Posted on March 15, 2012
When Mum and Dad have separated, Mother’s Day can be difficult for BOTH parents.
Here are my tips for Mums and Dads:
Dads- Put aside your personal feelings for your ex. Help your youngsters to make a fuss of their mum on Mother’s Day. You may no longer be a couple but you can still acknowledge your ex is a great mum to your kids. Chances are you won’t be with them on the day, so, before Sunday, prep the kids to make a fuss of Mum with helping them to make cards, buy flowers etc. Its understandable, if you are feeling a bit sad about the thought of not being together as a family on the day. Use all the time YOU have with your kids to make new special memories with their Dad. There is also always Father’s Day to look forward to!
Mums- It’s natural to feel a bit sad about the prospect of a family tradition now being different. Try not to dwell on the past. Whilst things can’t be the same as they were, you can still have a very special day. Create new happy memories for you and the kids. Use the day to celebrate the wonderful children you have created and raised, and let them show their appreciation by spoiling you….kids’ style. You deserve it!
Mums and Dads- whilst your relationship with each other as a couple, has come to an end, you continue to be parents to your kids. It is important to put aside your personal feelings towards your ex, and ALWAYS prioritise the kids when decision making. They didn’t ask for Mum and Dad to separate and they have their own feelings to process and come to terms with. In my mind, Mother’s Day is about the kids. It is their chance to show Mum they love her. Both parents can help them to make it a special day for Mum.
Have a happy Mother’s Day everyone!
Tel. 07970 231744
» Filed Under Changes through divorce and seperation, Children in Divorce, Divorce Tips, Helping children through divorce & seperation, Mother's day tips for separated Mums and Dads, Surviving Divorce | 3 Comments
Posted on February 7, 2012
Most people may have had the experience of those early morning dreams that so vividly make us experience a second life where rules are reversed, the gains have become losses and losses have become everyday presences.
We then wake up and for a moment we look around to reassign things their rightful place in our real life, until we are ready, reassured by this order, to start our day.
Surviving divorce can be like waking up from the early morning dream to find that reality is no better or different than that other virtual space, and to confront the fact that something has been re-arranged, if not all, and we cannot get our bearings or the meaning of what we find around us.
When this happens, it is hard to get up and go about our daily routine. This experience is disconcerting enough as it is, so what if, on top of our dismay, we also reflect upon the fact that we may be past our prime years, and the grey in our hair signals that the end of the road is getting near.
Times of major change are hard; losing one’s partner, stability, home, financial security, reputation – these are all elements that temporarily endanger the ability to survive as a fully functioning human being.
Like all bereavements, loss demands time in order to heal and to transform itself into something else. The cure in these situations is patience and an act of faith – the belief that life goes on.
When divorce hits us at midlife, the loss comes at a time of big readjustments. Midlife, like adolescence, is the moment for fundamental questions and for reorganising one’s existence accordingly to their answers.
There is opportunity in loss, for greater gain. Loss of youth as loss of marriage can open the path towards new possibilities.
This is a fertile season for new beginnings fed by one’s own experience, for bringing back all those dreams and passions that had to give way to duties and commitments.
Psychotherapy can offer support during the hardship of a divorce and a Life Review Therapy has often proven to generate a deeper evaluation and understanding of one’s potentials and the will to create a new beginning.
For supportive psychotherapy or Life Review Therapy, check my website: www.existential-psychotherapist.com
Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist
UKCP (accr.), MBACP,COSRT
Posted on February 7, 2012
Children often have difficulties coping with change. These could be everyday minor transitions such as moving from one task to another (such as packing up toys and coming to have tea) or from one environment to another (such as home to school). Or the changes they face may be much more significant such as dealing with bereavement or illness, moving house or school or the addition to the family of a new baby.
Some changes are unexpected and unwelcome and some are anticipated and (to their parents at least) positive. Whatever the change children often need help dealing with a multitude of feelings which they frequently don’t understand. Their discomfort may be reflected in withdrawn, sulky, regressive behaviours or ‘testing’ behaviour. Or they may get physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, eczema or stomach cramps.
Acknowledge feelings -To be effective and helpful to their children parents need to be able to look beyond behaviour to its causes -very often feelings of some kind – and help the child to deal with those feelings. Parents can help their children identify and manage their feelings and encourage them to express themselves through reflective listening. This results in better behaviour and a strong bond between parent and child.
Reflective listening isn’t about “making it better” or making the child’s feelings go away. Instead it is about recognising, understanding, accepting and naming the feelings the child has and making sure the child knows it is ok to have those feelings and that they are familiar to the adult. It is about encouraging the child to put his feelings into words so that parents can help him cope and so that those feelings don’t get suppressed and later emerge in behaviour or physical problems
Prepare for change -Where there is big change what is familiar and safe disappears and the future feels uncertain.
When there is loss through death or divorce a child may wonder if the rest of his life is secure. Will other loved ones go? Will other certainties disappear? When a new baby is expected or has arrived a child may wonder if he is still loved. When going to school for the first time everything is unfamiliar. Fear is the primary emotion. Since there is a lot of fear in the unknown parents can help by talking a lot about the change, helping the child understand what is happening and making it more familiar.
Some children also need help adjusting to smaller changes. They need more warning of transitions so they can get used to the idea even if it that only means giving 5 minutes warning that they will need to pack up their toys and come to tea. These children need to be told in advance if someone else is picking them up from nursery or if a parent is going away on a business trip or if granny is coming to stay or even if both parents are going out and a babysitter is looking after him. It can spectacularly backfire and result in lack of trust if parents try to ambush a child with this kind of temperament because they fear his reaction. What works is a combination of preparation and reflective listening.
How to reflectively listen:
Stop what you are doing and pay attention to your child. If they are talking convey with your body language that you are listening. Convey that you have the time and interest to listen to your child. You might sit close to him, cuddling him, maybe making eye contact if it is appropriate. Some children will find it easier to talk when they’re doing an activity alongside you or when the lighting is low. Use empathetic noises, such as ‘umm’ or ‘I see’
If they are not talking about how they feel take time to look for the feeling behind your child’s action or words and imagine how he is feeling; reflect it back to him in words. Give your child the sense that this is manageable, that it has a name, it is recognised, that you’ve had that feeling too.
Give wishes in fantasy Giving your child her wishes in fantasy shows you understand how she feels without suggesting that the fantasy is really possible.
Don’t try to make it better, children don’t need protection from feelings of sadness – they need to be able to cope with it.
Moving house: “I think you’re worried about moving. Although you are excited about your new room you are also going to miss this house as you know it so well. It is hard to adjust to changes. When we pack everything up it might feel strange”
Changing schools: “You might be wishing you didn’t have to change schools. You feel sad about leaving your friends and teachers. Maybe you are worried you won’t know anyone and you won’t make friends quickly. You might miss your old school for a while and that is really normal. Maybe a part of you is also looking forward to making new friends and having more activities. It can be confusing when you feel two different feelings at the same time.”
New baby -Pre-baby: “Mummy is having a baby and it will be different for you. You are used to having me to yourself (or there just being you and Freddie) and it might feel strange for you to have to share me. You might feel jealous of the baby.”
Post-baby: “The way you snatched that toy from the baby shows me you might be feeling a bit jealous. He has so many new things and so much attention. Maybe you feel a bit left out. It has been hard to share mummy since he came along”.
Small transitions: “In five minutes you will need to pack up the lego and come and have your bath. I know you love your lego and you have been working on it for ages. What a wonderful house you have built! It might be hard for you to drag yourself away but that’s the kind of self control you showed yesterday when I told you it was time to leave Jamie’s house. You wanted to stay but you hardly made any fuss at all and you said thank you to Jamie’s mummy.”
“I know you sometimes feel sad when I drop you off at nursery. You wish you could stay with Mummy all day. Miss Emma tells me that sometimes you feel your ‘magic stone’ in your pocket and that helps cheer you up a bit. That’s very brave of you!”
Wishes in fantasy: “I bet you wish Spot was still here with us, wagging his tail and jumping up in excitement when you came home. Maybe you wish things never had to change.”
Set up for success;
Children, like all of us, find it easier to succeed/cope when well prepared, even if what we’re asking them to do is different or a challenge. One of the best ways to prepare for success is by talking through situations, events and changes in advance. Prepare a child well in advance for upcoming events particularly if they don’t react well to change. Don’t ambush them. Tell them as far in advance as possible and repeat often – they may react adversely but every time the reaction will be less until by the time the dreaded event comes round they will be used to the idea. Involve the child as much as possible in any solutions
“This afternoon we’re going to the doctor. I know last time we went you got a bit upset because you needed to have an injection and it hurt. Today I want the doctor to have a listen to your chest because you’ve been coughing so much and you haven’t felt well. He will listen with something called a stethoscope. You’ve got one in your doctor’s kit. He might ask you open your mouth so he can look inside and he might hold your tongue down with a special stick. We can practice using those things in a minute.
You might feel a bit nervous. People often feel that way when they don’t know what’s going on. I’ll try to explain everything to you or the doctor will. If you feel worried will you tell me or shall we have our own secret code so you can let me know? Is there something else you could do or take with you that will help you to feel comfortable?”
Starting/changing school. Prepare by:
• Talking about common concerns:
o Will the teacher like me?
o Will the other children like me?
o Will I be able to do what’s asked of me?
o How will I know what to do?
o What if I get lost?
o What if I need to go to the loo?
o I don’t like the look of the toilets.
o I don’t like the food at lunchtime.
o It is too noisy and confusing at lunchtime/sports or I don’t have anyone to play with.
o How will I remember where to put my things?
• Familiarising your child with the school. Visit or look at pictures of the new school often. See the parts that will affect your child- his classroom, the loos, the dining hall, the assembly hall, the playground. Explain unfamiliar things like bells and what they signify.
• Getting any uniform well in advance and try it on. Practice getting in and out of it.
• Role playing conversations with other children to help make friends.
The Parent Practice
Posted on February 2, 2012
Naomi, The Kids Coach, has just brought out her first parenting book. Called ‘The Parents Toolkit’ it helps give your child the confidence and skills so they can be the best they can at school, home and play.
In the book she shares the key life tools she uses and teaches so that you can help your child successfully navigate childhood problems and grow up into a happy, confident and resilient young adults. As coaching is a collaborative process her tools include teaching your child positive self-talk, simple problem-solving techniques to encourage your child to arrive at the right solution to an issue, and specific advice for you as a parent to hone your own listening and coaching skills.
One of the chapters that is included in the book is separation and divorce. The issues that are raised in this chapter are based around the many questions children have about their parents separation and the circumstances that lead on from it. It gives parents a great insight as to what is going through their child’s mind, their thoughts and their feelings.
Aimed at parents with children aged 6+ and divided into the most important areas of a child’s life, ‘The Parent’s Toolkit’ is packed with real-life examples, useful hints to help you in conversations with your child and creative ideas to help solve problems.
Upbeat, insightful and incredibly practical, ‘The Parent’s Toolkit’ is essential reading for any parent wanting to give their child the best start in life.
The book can be bought from her website: http://www.thekidscoach.org.uk/the-parents-toolkit/
What reaction can I expect from my small children when I tell them we’re separating and in the months following?
Posted on January 10, 2012
While no child wants to hear that their parents are breaking up, children often have predictable responses when you tell them that you are separating that relate to their developmental stage. Knowing what these might be will hopefully make you more prepared for the emotional, behavioral and physical changes that will follow. Young children do not fully understand the concept of marriage and separation. They will only understand that mommy or daddy will no longer be living together. Be prepared for them to find it difficult to grasp what is happening. Try to make them understand otherwise they will be frustrated and confused.
Children under the age of 5 years old will have various reactions depending on their personality. They will either cry, pretend you never mentioned the separation, they may change the subject because they want to stop their feelings or they go back to focus on what they were doing before you started talking to them or they may show no emotion at all at the time but then leave the room to process their feelings.
Once they have been able to process some of the information you tell them they will have lots of feelings and fears about the future. The fear of abandonment is very common and is expressed in a variety of ways. Children may cling, whine and have tantrums when left at childcare. They want the security of being with their main carer and don’t want to be left. When you pick them up they may also be upset because you left them but also relieved and pleased to see you.
Children may get upset when moved between parents during access visits and will feel unsettled if their main carer changes e.g. they may have a new person looking after them if mum has to go to back to work. Being around unfamiliar people can make them tearful and anxious. Often they will struggle with a new routine and having to be moved between both parents. Some children often regress in their behaviour. They may return to the comfort of a security blanket or a toy they had outgrown or they may have a lapse in toilet training. It is not unusual for children to have disturbed sleep either. Bear with them, as it won’t be forever. These types of behaviour rarely last for more than a few weeks.
Some children may become irritable and engage more in physical activity and fighting. This is because of the hurt they feel and the anger towards the situation. Other children may become more fearful of aggression and being hurt. Children under five may become less imaginative and co-¬‐operative in their play. They may prefer to play by themselves rather than with friends and they may show a preference for adult company as being near adults makes them feel secure. They can show more anger and apathy in their play and in their interactions with peers and adults as they act out how they feel and the situation they are in e.g. when dad comes to the house to pick them up for the day.
Many children grow up emotionally together and psychologically strong even though they have had the adverse childhood experience of their parents separating. Young children do not necessarily carry their wounds through into their adult life.
If a young child’s life improves and changes, especially during the ages of two and six, the negative effects of early childhood can be reversed. Young children are likely to do just as well in school as they did before the separation.
The Kids Coach
Posted on January 10, 2012
Solicitors Journal Publication – Austin Chessell offers practical tips on how to resolve Christmas holiday- or other holiday contact through mediation, and considers the first prenuptial agreement case after Radmacher
Christmas is fast approaching. Nurseries and schools will be closing shortly for several weeks making Christmas holiday contact one of the main issues being mediated at the moment at Family Mediation In Action (FAMIA).
Below are some of the factors and common topics that are raised and explored with our clients to reach agreement for Christmas contact between our clients and their children.
1. Telling the children. If this is the first year that the parents are separated, how will the separation be explained to the children before contact issues are resolved?
2. How old are the children? Infants and toddlers compared to teenagers are going to need different lengths and frequencies of contact that need to be considered. When the children get older should there be trigger points for reviewing the contact schedule over Christmas? e.g. after a year.
3. How would the children like contact to be over Christmas? The parents need to decide the final contact arrangements but it is important when the children are old enough to find out their views. The children can also be part of the mediation process if both parents consent to this. Everything said to the mediator will remain confidential apart from what the children want to be passed back to the parents. The welfare and wishes of the children is of central concern to the court. We try and get both parents to keep this at the forefront of their minds while mediating.
4. Other relatives. What are the grandparents’ and other relatives views for contact who may want to see their grandchildren over the Christmas period?
5. Travelling abroad. If one parent is to travel abroad, ensure that the other parent will have a telephone number or contact details so that they can have telephone or even Skype contact on Christmas day.
6. Alternate Christmas contact. A lot of families now like to spend Christmas abroad. The clients therefore are often happy to alternate who has contact with the children each year.
7. Keeping the other parent informed. The Christmas period can have a lot of festive events, religious ceremonies and activities. We try and get the parents to agree how far in advance they should communicate with each other so that if there is a clash of events a compromise can be reached.
8. Breaking the Christmas period into slots of days. Sometimes one parent has the children for contact on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day while the other parent has contact Christmas Day and other days. Or one parent has contact over Christmas and the other parent then has contact over New Year. This then rotates yearly.
9. Having Christmas together. In some mediation agreements (memorandum of understanding) we have prepared, the resident parent has wanted it documented that the non-resident parent can spend Christmas Day at the resident parent’s house so that both parents have contact with their children on Christmas Day when the presents are opened.
10. Morning and evening contact on Christmas Day. One parent has contact with the children in the morning of Christmas Day and the other parent has contact in the afternoon.
11. Shared Christmas contact. If there is a shared residence order in place and contact cannot be divided 50/50 over the festive period, it is explored whether there are other points in the year where more contact can be granted so that there is a balance of contact between both of them.
12. Good communication between parents. Is this best done by email, phone or face to face where there is an acceptance by both parents that over this busy period flexibility is needed? Good communication can also work if the parents agree to arrange a neutral point for contact handovers, agree an agenda of items in advance, looking to the future rather than to the past, and agreeing to a time limit for discussions so that everything talked about is focused.
13. Keeping the other parent informed. If there is important information that the other parent needs to know – for example new dietary needs or their general routine – write this down and keep the other parent informed so that the child’s transition is not disrupted between parents.
14. Business partnership. If communication is strained and difficult can you liaise with your former partner as you would with a work colleague? And if things do become heated find a way to calm down before continuing discussions?
15. Passport and travel. Discussions centre on giving consent for passport applications, and, if the children are travelling abroad, on consent being given for how long they agree to them being outside of the jurisdiction. If there are child abduction or relocation concerns we always recommend both parties seek legal advice from their respective solicitors.
Finally we tell both clients to make sure that they have spare batteries to hand for Figit (a robot that can dance and tell jokes), which is predicted to be the must-have Christmas toy of 2011.
At a recent mediation seminar in Twickenham there was a Q&A session to an expert panel at which someone asked why a mediator should be instructed instead of a solicitor. The answer given by a mediator was that mediators and solicitors should both be instructed and work together collaboratively if the situation is suitable for mediation.
Mediation has some advantages over litigation because in the mediation process communication is maintained by the clients working together in the same room, which is important where there are young children involved as both parents will need to communicate directly with each other for a long time after their separation and after the consent order has been sealed.
There is a positive energy in the room when mediating with parties both keen to shape a contact agreement that fits around their work schedules and commitments. A court order may not always reflect this. Also, in the current financial climate, clients who do not have a lot of resources do not always have the funds to litigate through several hearings.
If the matter of Christmas contact goes to court, the hearing date may be listed sometimes after several weeks by which time Christmas may have come and gone, or, if the plan was to go abroad, travel will be a lot more expensive, whereas usually mediators can see clients within a matter of days.
Solicitors obviously do have the advantage over mediators on technical legal issues as mediators cannot advise the client on his or her rights, which can be very important if there is a power imbalance between the parties, e.g. if there are child abduction or relocation concerns or if one party has a better understanding of the situation than the other.
The mediation process is also voluntary, so, if one party does decide to opt out of mediation or not attend, going to court is really the only way left to reach a resolution for a Christmas contact dispute.
At the High Court on 3 November 2011, Mr Justice Moor considered the merits of a French prenuptial agreement and delivered judgment in Z v Z (No 2)  EWHC 2878 (Fam). This is thought to be the first reported post-Radmacher prenuptial agreement case.
The prenup was signed by the parties in France in 1994 in the presence of two notaries, days before the couple’s marriage in France. The agreement excluded the sharing of the couple’s wealth on separation. They moved together to live in England in August 2007.
The wife was aged 50 and the husband was 53. The marriage duration was 14 years with four years of cohabitation before the marriage. The couple had three children aged 14, 12 and nine.
In February 2008 there was a trial separation for a period of three months. The husband signed a letter to the wife before leaving in which he agreed that he would not seek to rely on the prenuptial agreement if he commenced divorce proceedings and that if he did commence legal proceedings he would agree to share the couple’s assets.
The assets in this case were valued at £15m. The wife had over £1m-worth of assets in her name while the husband was a big earner.
The wife started divorce proceedings in London in 2008. The husband contested the divorce proceedings in Paris where he challenged the jurisdiction of the High Court. Ryder J considered this issue in 2009 and ruled in favour of the wife.
At the four-day trial in October 2011, the husband put forward a case that the prenup should exclude the sharing principle and that the award to the wife should be made on a ‘needs’ basis.
The husband initially made an offer of 35 per cent of the assets to the wife, which was not accepted.
The wife argued that the prenup was not entered into freely and said that she had been induced to enter into it. She also added that she had given up her job, had children and came to the UK with her husband when the marriage was not going well.
The wife was seeking 50 per cent of the assets and argued that if her claim was to be dealt with on a ‘needs’ basis she should still receive 50 per cent, which amounted to £7.5m. The judge did not accept the wife’s arguments and upheld the prenuptial agreement. The terms of the prenup could not be varied by the husband’s letter as legal proceedings had by then been initiated by the wife. The wife was awarded 40 per cent of the assets, amounting to £6.03m, including her own assets. The award was made for the wife on a ‘needs’ basis rather than on a ‘sharing’ basis, as the sharing of the assets was not provided for in the prenup.
Income needs were assessed at £100,000 per year for the wife and £75,000 per year for the children, which were determined according to English law. The wife was awarded a lump sum of £2.28m.
Radmacher v Granatino  UKSC 42 gave prenuptial agreements ‘decisive weight’ and Z v Z (No 2) does not change the current law.
In 2012, the Law Commission is due to report on whether there should be a change to the law on the recognition of prenuptial agreements.
Austin Chessell is a family mediator with Massy Ellesmere at FAMIA
Posted on December 12, 2011
Christmas is a very religious time for some and not for others but for all it is a time for families being together.
For parents that have recently split this time is incredibly difficult for the main reason of when they are going to see their children but also what can they buy their children that are going to be better than the other parent. As you know I am not interested in the parents but the interest of the child their thoughts and feelings.
The children will hopefully want to spend time with both parents unless one parent has turned the child against the other. They will want to receive presents from both parents but want them to be thoughtful and full of love – not like the parents have been competing to give the biggest/best/more expensive one and they will want to be involved in the planning and preparation of the special day.
They will have concerns about Christmas so parents please listen and address their fears. These may be:
Ÿ Why can’t we all spend Christmas together?
Ÿ Where will I sleep on Christmas Eve?
Ÿ How will I spend Christmas day?
Ÿ Who else will be there?
Ÿ Can it be just you and me?
Ÿ Will I have to cook lunch (if I am at dads – he can’t cook)?
Ÿ What is expected of me (dress, schedule etc)?
Ÿ Can my brothers/sisters stay with me even though they don’t like mum/dad?
Ÿ Will I still be able to do the special activities I like to do at Christmas with mum/dad?
Can we have day without arguing?
They will want Christmas to be a time of togetherness, which can only happen if separation was amicable. If not, you will need to discuss options of how they can spend Christmas using the knowledge you have of yours and your ex’s movements. If there is only one option for the child to spend Christmas with one parent explain the reasons why.
If you are both around ask the children how they would like to spend their day and the rest of their holidays and try and accommodate some of their wishes where you can. Think about the practicalities of how they are going to get from one location to the next. You don’t want to arrange Christmas Eve with mum and then Christmas breakfast with dad. If the child wants to have you all to themselves – is it possible for you to do something special just the two of you for part of the day and then be with others for the rest of it.
When it comes to receiving presents get them to write down what presents they want from mum and those they want from dad with the mindset that one parent may not have the same finances available. The each parent will know what to buy and it will alleviate competition and possible bribery!
By: Naomi Richards The Kids Coach
Posted on December 12, 2011
I feel very fortunate that I have not had first-hand experience of a divorce (apart from my parents when I was a teenager). However, I have joined in helping some of the parents of my children’s friends when they were going through divorce (the simple and the messy) and have also had the opportunity to talk to a good few divorced people in the course of my work with Motivating Mum.
Many couples seem to be arranged with one partner as the chief income earner, and the other as the chief homemaker or raiser of children. In this article, I will occasionally use the term ‘mum’ (and ‘she’) to define the homemaker role, because it so often is ‘mum’ who has the children, however, this article and my site Motivating Mum, is equally relevant to mums or dads, anyone, in fact who is looking for ways to make an income from home.
The tragedy of divorce in many cases, is that the person who is left looking after the children, finds herself with the same amount of caring and expenditure, but significantly reduced income. Work options can be limited, because of the need to be there for the children. Added to that there may be confidence and self-esteem issues following a messy break up.
It doesn’t surprise me then that , having got over the original shock of the break up, many of my friends that have divorced, and many divorced mums I have met with Motivating Mum, go on to set up a small business for themselves. This can have several benefits:
• A business of your own can allow flexible working, to fit around your own childcare commitments.
• It can provide additional income, to see you through troubled times
• It is a project which is just for you, which does not require any contact or co-operation with your ex-partner, and can provide a feeling of ‘new beginning’
• You can learn new skills and rediscover long-forgotten ones, which is fabulous for rebuilding confidence
• It forces you to get out and meet new people, thus getting you out of yourself and taking your mind off relationship problems.
Nowadays there are lots of ways in which mums can dip their toe into the water of business ownership, to find out whether or not this option is one that suits them. One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking on a franchise or distributorship business. These businesses typically have very low start up costs and an established business model. You sign up, often in the team of a named mentor and sponsor, and off you go, following an established pattern. I wrote more about running a distributorship on my website (http://www.motivatingmum.co.uk/articles-a-features/264-running-a-distributorship-business).
Of course if you have a small amount of savings or a lump sum settlement following your divorce, you could embark on a more radical way of re-inventing yourself and starting a business. I have recently been inspired by several strong women, who have overcome various levels of adversity and set out to retrain themselves, leading to new and exciting careers: one is running a cake-making business from home, one has retrained and is practising as a reflexologist, another has invented and patented a new child’s toy, yet another has started a money making blog.
Whatever you decide to do with the next stages of your life following divorce, there are loads of places where you can get advice and support nowadays. In the first place, make sure you brush up on your computer knowledge, because the online world is teeming with useful information which you can access from your home, whether you are wanting to learn some skills, connect with other people in the same situation as you, or even start dating again.
If you are looking to work from home or start up a business then you can join lots of online forums, attend networking events (with toddlers if needs be) and get access to relevant training, all at the click of a mouse. All you need is a spark of an idea, a small amount of motivation and support, and your new life can begin.
Debbie O’Connor runs Motivating Mum, a website which provides support and advice to mums (and dads) in business and anyone wanting to start to make money from home. Motivating Mum provides (amongst other things):
• Business mentoring
• Networking events
• Training workshops
• Blogs, articles and newsletters
• Business forum
For more information about all things business related please contact Debbie (email@example.com)
Posted on December 7, 2011
Elaine Halligan is a parenting specialist and corporate speaker with The Parent Practice and has had 8 years experience working with parents to ensure they have the skills and strategies to bring out the best in their children and ensure they survive and flourish in a post divorce world.
How children respond to family separation very much depends on the individual and of course the age group. This follow on blog looks at the older child through to the teenagers
Five to ten
By this age children are already developing personalities and have learnt quite a lot about the world and will have absorbed ideas about safety, love and attachment. The imaginary world is very strong in this stage. Sometimes if their reality is disturbing or unwelcome they may try to build an alternate reality or make sense of it through their imaginations. They may need help accepting an unpleasant reality through gentle talking through of what’s happening. They do not yet have much of an emotional vocabulary and still express their feelings through behaviour and body language.
‘Misbehaviour’ is the strongest indication that they are suffering. Hitting, lying and stealing are not unusual and lack of concentration at school is the norm. Playing the class clown and being aggressive in the playground can lead to lowering of standards of work and alienating peers. This in turn upsets the adults around children and if they don’t understand the emotional disturbance at the root of it may react by criticising and punishing or by ignoring poor behaviour. Children in this age group often worry about losing the other parent and behaviours may emerge which involve checking that their resident parent is still there, (getting up in the night) or not allowing them out of sight (refusing to go to school).
Well meaning but false promises by adults (that everything will be alright) serve to remind children that adults are not to be trusted, that bad things happen and the adults cannot prevent them. We cannot promise that nothing bad will happen but we can promise to be there when things are upsetting. Children need to feel safe to be able to explore and to learn.
Children often believe that they can get their parents back together again, and may even seek to destroy new relationships between a parent and a new partner. They need to be helped gently to see that this is not going to happen.
Ten to thirteen
Children in this age bracket are getting ready to and leaving primary school and making the transition to secondary school with all the anxieties that brings. While boys and girls are outwardly ignoring each other they are secretly fascinated with the opposite sex and there will be experimentation with appearance and wondering about sex. By now they know what boundaries are in place and are aware of tensions in relationships.
They will try to work out what is wrong with their parents and will look for evidence (especially girls). Phone calls and other conversations may be listened to and messages or emails read. It is ineffective to give children in this age group half truths. A child in this age group may understand what is going on but not have the emotional vocabulary to express how they feel about it.
Children often have difficulty at school at this time. Transferring to secondary with all its challenges including increased academic demands and social challenges is hard enough without a background of emotional distress occasioned by family breakdown. Some children fail academically at school and some put all their energies into doing better and better in the academic or sporting arenas or by being very good as if they are trying to control a life that has spun out of control. Some children end up walking on egg shells to prevent bad things happening and become very fearful.
They need to be able to trust that the adults can look after themselves and they don’t need to be responsible for their parent’s happiness. They need to be encouraged to do activities they’ll enjoy outside the house. It’s important that children don’t become too adult and neglect their childhood.
Some children in this age group will feel they have to take sides and try to be two different people for their two parents.
During adolescence children need to complete the following developmental tasks: they need to learn who they are, what they think, who they like and who likes them, find out about sex, grow up and away from parents without breaking necessary family ties. Parents who are in a stable relationship find teenagers hard enough (with rudeness, sulkiness, defiance, lack of organisation, self absorption, untidiness and secretiveness to contend with) but when the family has broken down it is doubly difficult. One difficulty for parents is that a teen will very often seem not to care on the surface and will need help to give voice to emotions that may otherwise overwhelm him. Allow a teen to have his privacy and be secretive. They feel they need to look as if they can cope. Offers of help by well meaning adults should be made in private.
A teenager may react to a breakdown in a parental relationship that actually happened some time before but his reaction is not being expressed until adolescence. Parents need to work on the basis that the behaviour makes sense given what the teen is dealing with and then think about ways to change it. Allow some latitude but don’t give in where it’s important.
At this age teens can choose whether they want to see one parent or not. If they refuse to see one parent the teen will suffer because they need both parents. They need male and female role models, they need to feel that 100% of their genetic make up is ok, need a sense of history which is provided by both parents, and they need to be able to turn to the other parent if one is unavailable. Practically teens miss out when they only have one parent (with support at and encouragement of activities and attendance at functions, help with academics, advice about choices for the teen’s future, money, holidays etc) and developmentally they are short some support.
He only has 50% of the eyes and ears looking out for him and the parent he is with may be distracted. The custodial parent suffers too from too much responsibility and too little freedom while the non-custodial parent may be feeling hurt and powerless.
If parents do not have clear structures and agreed rules for co-parenting, if a teen has too much power or not enough support there may be troublesome behaviour which shows up in the moment or there may be problems sown which don’t materialise until later in life. Teens need the security of a safe base while exploring the adult world and their place in it –they need to have something solid to fight against.
Parents often feel guilty about the impact of the divorce on their children and feel sorry for them having to grow up without one parent –this can lead to them wanting to protect their children from all difficulties and bad feelings which doesn’t teach them to cope.
Next blog on “What are the signs of difficulties in our children “
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Posted on November 21, 2011
I took my son swimming today and had to pop into the shop for some milk on the way home. I didn’t exactly look my best, wearing no make-up and wet hair pulled back into a ponytail.
It reminded me of just how important it is to feel good about how you look and the impact that this has on your confidence, your outlook on life and self-esteem.
Wearing a top which is a bit tight and makes you feel self-conscious for example is likely to make you less confident and shy away from attention rather than welcoming it.
Conversely, wearing an outfit which makes you feel fabulous will make you behave in a more confident manner and you’ll welcome bumping into someone you know because you know you look great.
I’m sure we’ve all been there; you’ve dashed out to the shops in old, ill-fitting clothes and your heart has sunk at the sight of someone you know and haven’t seen for ages.
Do you hide behind the tomatoes or front it out?
Well, a life changing event such as divorce or separation can be a great time to reinvent yourself and updating your image can give a real boost to your self esteem.
How you feel about yourself can affect your ability to do the things you want to do in life.
How you look has a significant impact on how you feel about yourself and so it follows that a new look can kick start a catalyst of positive changes in your life.
My advice? Don’t even own clothes which make you look or feel rubbish, that way you won’t be tempted to put them on.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, your clothes don’t have to have a designer label – you just need to spend your money wisely by choosing the right styles and colours of clothes to best suit you.
Review each item in your wardrobe one by one and ask yourself:
• Does the colour suit me?
• Does the style flatter my body shape?
• Does it fit me properly? If not then perhaps it can be altered by a tailor.
• Is it appropriate for my current lifestyle?
• Is it age appropriate?
• Have I worn it in the last 2 years?
• Is it appropriate for the current season? If not then put it in
storage rather than letting it clutter up your wardrobe.
And most importantly….
• Does it make me feel good?
Sometimes clothes can tick all the boxes in theory but if they don’t make you feel great then get rid of them.
It may take a while but the results will be worth it. You’ll have fewer clothes but we only wear 30% of the clothes in our wardrobe anyway -at least you’ll be left with things you enjoy wearing and which look good.
As you go along build up a shopping list of items which need replacing or any key items missing from your wardrobe. This will help you to stay focused on the things you actually need when shopping rather than impulse buying or choosing clothes which are similar to what you already own.
If you have any questions or would like help with your wardrobe then please get in touch.
Personal Stylist and Style Coach™
07938 135 585