Parenting During Separation and Divorce
Divorce can be a painful experience and parents may find it difficult to respond to the needs of their children, for extra emotional support and attention. To help your children cope with divorce, you need to learn to manage your own feelings and new circumstances. Like many other parents in similar circumstances, you can move forward and help your children move forward too.
Divorce is not a single event, but a process that unfolds over time. It involves a series of family changes and reorganizations that may take several years. The events and emotions that accompany these changes cannot be dealt with overnight. It takes time for everyone in the family to adapt.
Separation and divorce can be an emotional roller coaster. You may experience feelings of anger, isolation, anxiety, euphoria, depression, guilt, loss of control, fear, incompetence and insecurity. You may doubt your ability to deal with the needs of your children because you also face pressing needs of your own. Sometimes parents may feel that they have failed their children, and may doubt their own worth. These emotions and difficulties are a natural part of going through a separation and divorce.
The process of separation and divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences in an adult’s life – socially, emotionally and financially. Most parents are ill-prepared for all of the challenges and adjustments they may face, including:
• Changing homes, neighbourhoods and schools, which may lead to a sense of instability and the loss of relationships and support systems.
• Economic changes – two households cost more to maintain than one. Some parents may face a sudden financial crisis.
• Difficulty in concentrating on your job. Or you may immerse yourself in work, especially if you are no longer living with your children.
• If you are not living with your children, you may feel cut off from their lives.
• Increased demands and responsibilities if you have the major role in caring for the children. It may seem like there are not enough hours in the day to spend time with your children, and still find any time for yourself.
With all the pressures of divorce parents are under even greater stress. It is important for you to carve out some time to take care of your own needs. Schedule time for activities that help you get in touch with yourself, whether through a hobby, physical activity or simply relaxing quietly. Allow yourself occasions to break away from the momentum of “doing” and simply “be” even for a few minutes to help you regain your balance. It will give you a better sense of perspective and will help you stay on top of the day-to-day stress of work, children, and the separation or divorce.