Taking care of yourself

  • The best thing you can do for your child is to take care of yourself. By taking steps forward for yourself you will be helping your child as well
  • Do things that are just for you – pamper yourself, visit friends, read, find time for yourself and so on
  • Eat properly and get enough sleep and exercise
  • Try to limit the emotional energy you give to the conflict
  • Express your feelings by talking to a friend. Release the tension by exercising
  • Although separation is a painful process for parents and children, remember that things change with time.

Ask yourself ‘If I’m physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, how can I be available to best care for my child?’

You have a right to your feelings. However, what you do with them can make a big difference in your child’s life. It’s not healthy to keep your anger inside, to express it aggressively, or to use your child to get back at the other parent.

Tell yourself that it’s OK to feel angry or sad. You can express your feelings by talking to a friend or counsellor, by joining a support group or by exercising.

If you are the one who left, you’re likely to feel guilty about the separation and to be further ahead in the separation process as you’ve had more time to come to terms with things.

Nevertheless, as the process moves forward, you may find yourself grieving sharply and experiencing renewed anger as you may have done in the beginning. Again, the grief during the separation process is not straightforward.

If you have been left, you could feel betrayed and rejected, leaving you feeling insecure and jealous of any new relationship your ex-partner has. You might also not want to accept the end of the relationship and try to hold on to it. Sometimes conflict between exes can be the only way that people imagine they can continue to stay connected.

Sometimes it might seem that you have a mountain to climb, but with time the mountain can turn into a small hill.

It is important to bear in mind that time heals. Whatever you and your children feel now, you can be sure that you won’t be feeling the same way after six months, a year or five years.

Having a support network can really help you through any difficult patches. You could also consider using mediation.

Click below to download our support network activity. Name the person or people in your life who fulfilled each of the needs listed in the document, before your separation and then after your separation.

Extended family

Grandparents and other family members play an important part in your child’s life. Quite often, they suffer the fallout when parents are in conflict and feel that they have to take sides. Family members might feel strongly about what has happened; however, it is important to continue to allow your child to have a relationship with them.

Explain to your extended family that although you understand that they might have divided loyalties, it is important that they don’t speak badly about either parent as this could cause children to feel that they are in the middle of an even broader conflict.

Children benefit from the continuity, stability and sense of belonging that other family members can bring, especially at a time of instability and uncertainty. Spending time in another home where life carries on as it did before can be a great comfort to them.

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