Parenting after Separation, making the most of family changes

22 January 2012

Parenting after Separation

Making the most of family changes is not that difficult to achieve if you are open to cultivating a positive and flexible approach to family life after separation.  Looking ahead without dwelling too much on what has been helps to approach parenting issues in a realistic and light-hearted way, anticipating and adapting the extra dimensions in your family, seeing them as a challenge rather than as a hassle.

This is not to say that separating can be made to be positive just by will power.  Most go through a really bad time as we come to terms with what we are facing.  However, your children will do better if you are positive and confident with how you approach life in general.

Appreciating one another’s point of view on different standpoints is an important step towards successful co-parenting.

Helpful and unhelpful attitudes

Every parent wants to be a successful one.  We hope that our children will achieve everything we would like to have achieved ourselves.  We try to improve our parenting in all the areas where we feel our own parents got it wrong, and to give our children all those things we value about our own childhood.  We worry quite a lot about the effect our separation will have or is having on our children, and we want to do all that we can to make up for the changes they have to make.  We want to ensure that our children don’t miss out on all that is important.

There’s no doubt that parents separating is usually a sad and disrupting experience for children, but they generally get over it in time, and will certainly do so faster if it is handled well.

If you are able to put aside notions of blame, disappointment, failure, injustice and instead learn to understand how these factors will influence your and your children’s attitudes and behaviour then you are able to take on board a commitment to self-responsibility, personal awareness, patience and the potential for growth.

Language and labels

The last decade has seen a marked change in assumptions about parenting after separation.  It’s not just about ensuring that fathers have an equal right to parent when there is a family break-up.  It would seem that more and more parents are opting for shared parenting on an equal basis.

Therefore, instead of referring to your child’s other parent as “the ex” or  more formally “previous partner”, a more positive approach would be to refer to him/her as “John’s dad” or “Jenny’s mum” or even better, use the other parent’s name in reference rather than avoidance.  We were all given names and by using each other’s names in a kind manner allows our children to observe and reinforce our positive behaviour towards other people.

I read a blog the other day and the heading is “Put your words away” (written by earlbrussel).  It refers to a teachers who taught her children to “put their words away” shortly before crossing the road.  This has struck a chord with me.  If we as adults remember to “put our words away” before saying something negative, then the process of acceptance allows you to focus on what is important right now.

Accepting your ex for who they are allows you to focus on the needs of your children

Taking care of yourself

It is easy to get so caught up in the new parenting role that we neglect our own wants and needs.  We might feel guilty and selfish wanting to take “time out” even while our children are around, thinking we have to be there for them 24/7, play with them or attend to their needs all the time.  This is a trap most of us fall into at one point or another.  Don’t think that self-reflection , and looking after your own interests, is self-indulgence.  Children demand and hold your attention but why not show them and expose them to your world.  Do something that is important to you and share it with them.

Working towards successful co-parenting is a gradual process of attitude change.

♣ Image credit: office.microsoft.com/images/ MP900399506 & MP900409455

There’s a little man invading my dream….

17 January 2012

There’s a little man invading my dream….

It’s been a few days since I last posted something on here and I think I am having “blog publishing withdrawal symptoms”  (BPWS)

This happened partially due to work commitments but also the good ol’ writer’s block that has crept in on me.  The weather has played its part on my feelings too.  After having had several very hot days it has been raining non-stop.  I don’t mind the rain, just a ray of sunshine every now and then would have been nice, thank you very much….

So instead I thought I will share with you a poem that I have had for many years and read it every now and then (meaning every couple of years actually).   I do not claim my name to fame in writing this.  I pass this on to a girl who visited me in another country many years ago.  Her name is Stephanie.  Last name unknown.  She passed it on to me when I was going through a particular tough time.  This poem reminds me that WE DO HAVE OPTIONS and helps me sometimes with making some tough decisions.  I hope this may help someone out there too.

So if you recognise this as your poem, Stephanie, please contact me so that I can give you the credit where credit is due.

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There’s a little man invading my dream

I cannot see him, and they can’t hear me scream.

I’m no hero, I want to save no souls

Just deliver me from evil as they say the story goes.

God cannot help me, for man he did create

And seemingly, intentionally, to leave me in this state.

No-one to hear my story, they’ve stories of their own

So other than a letter, I’m in this one alone.

A deep breath now, the tears bite back

And I’ll sit here at this table ’till I know how to attack.

First examine feelings, this much I have learnt

Carefully discover if I’m angry, or I’m hurt.

The second step are options, what to do and when

and once I have them sorted, confront the man,

and then….

Oh dear, he’s being nice to me, with this I cannot cope

All my well strung arguments in my throat are choked.

So I’ll resort to writing poems, they are my saving grace

And I’ll sleep on this tonight, perhaps the morning I can face.

(this poem is copyright protected)

When Your Kids push Your Buttons…

15 January 2012

When your Kids push your Buttons…

Who would have thought that a book written in 2003 by Bonnie Harris “When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, And What You Can Do About It” would spin me out tonight.

I had this book sitting on my bookshelf for ages.  It was for sale on eBay but no-one seemed to buy it and then I finally sold it today, hurrah!  I fanned the pages to make sure there is nothing in there that should not be there before wrapping it up for postage.

As I fanned the pages a certain heading caught my attention:
“She’s out to get me!”
  I stopped to read the rest.  I could not put the book down.  Little Miss M will be 3 in May and oh, how can she push MY buttons at such a young age!  I know she is a very clever, strong-willed individual and I certainly don’t want to break her spirit but I also had to find a way around our occasional conflicts.  Already in kindy she seems to be the leader by initiating games and the other kids follow her instructions.  I always admired that about her when I first heard about it from her teachers.  I was a follower, still am sometimes.  Although, I have to say, I never, ever thought or said my daughter is “out to get me”, it was just the heading that caught my attention.

What rattled my cage were the next few pages.  It made me review my own childhood.  Just to make it clear from the start, whilst I do believe we are shaped by our childhood, I never really thought there was anything terribly wrong with my childhood.  To this day I maintain I had a great childhood, in many ways very innocent too.  For the first time in my entire life I realise now that all I ever wanted to do was to keep the peace at home and gain my parent’s approval.  My sister was the feisty, fighting one, pushing my mother to the end of her tether until she exploded in anger.  I, on the other hand, did everything to please my mother.  To this day it is still the same!  I’m not saying I’m Miss Goody Two Shoes.  Oh yes, I was quite a rascal and tomboy from time to time too and certainly did get into trouble just as much.

So, back to the future, ….

What has this all to do with my daughter and I?  Well, from time to time since her toddler years started, we have our occasional battle of wills and thus far I believed that it was just a matter of me guiding her into doing what is the right thing to do and not really understanding why she won’t do it.  That is until I read further…

In essence, because I grew up trying to please my parents; unintentionally I wanted Little Miss M to please me too (per se).  Thus unwittingly I was trying to shape her into conforming to MY way just like my mother did when I grew up.  Most importantly, I know I am a very good mum to my little girl but sometimes when the battles of wills raged out of hand I doubted my ability to raise this child and occasionally thought that I wasn’t a good mum (just self-doubt).  I didn’t know how to get around these feelings until today.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have “mother issues” or any issues for that matter… it was just a lightbulb moment where I realised how I was raised is not necessarily how Little Miss Independent should or needs to be raised.

At a deeper level…

It also then occurred to me that since my separation from my daughter’s dad my confident levels have dipped considerably.  I thought it was just normal to feel that way and that it would take time to heal from these wounds.  I realise now that growing up and wanting to please everyone is something I continued doing throughout my adult life and in my relationships with partners and friends alike, putting their needs ahead of my own.  This is not something that can be changed overnight but certainly something I will be mindful of.

Another point I would like to make is that, as parents we are bound to make “mistakes”.  It is never our intention and we have the best in mind for our children.  Our parents made mistakes too but they may never realise it.  It is how WE perceive those mistakes and whether we choose to blame our parents for these “mistakes.  I don’t, do you?

Self-realisation is incredibly powerful and a great healer towards something better to come.

  (Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Goody_Two-Shoes_%281%29.jpg)