With divorce and separation common in our society it can be easy to take it for granted and fail to recognise the stress it provides for children caught in the middle.
The impact this event has on the children involved depends on many factors. These factors can include, the age of the children, how the adults speak to each other, what the adults tell the children, whether the parental split results in a less stressed home environment, the shared care arrangements, and the personality and temperament of the children. There are so many things going on at this time and often children are left to cope in their own emotional turmoil whilst the adults are battling it out.
...imagine how your child may be feeling. ... They don’t know what is going to change, what will stay the same. Where is Christmas going to be? Who is going to come to the school concert? Can they go to a birthday party that is on when it is the other parent’s turn to have them?
Using Mindfulness to manage your transition stress
So where does mindfulness come in? The short answer is everywhere. But let's focus on transitioning between homes. Before you first see your child when they come home from their other parent take time to check in with yourself.
How do you feel about them coming home? Do you want to know what they did, what your ex has said about you, whether they did their homework? Have you been lonely without them? Do you wish they didn’t have to be away from you? Do you wish they didn’t have to come home? Do you wonder whether they had such a good time away from you that you can’t match the experiences your ex provided them, or do you think your ex has neglected them?
You may find you are experiencing some strong, and/or perhaps surprising thoughts and feelings. That’s normal.
When you spend time becoming aware of and acknowledging your own thoughts, feelings, urges etc you are better placed to manage them appropriately. Whatever comes up for you, you may then be able to do something about. This may be talking to a friend, journalling, practice acceptance, tweaking your child's transition routine, practicing assertive communication with your ex, examining your self-care routine.
This aim is to reduce your tension that can occur during this transition time for your child. This then allows your focus to be on your child.
If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness and can help you in these and other areas contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0408533515.
If you are going through a separation it can be useful to take a formal course such as https://lifeworks.com.au/programs/parenting-after-separation/. Relationships Australia also have a shared care parenting plan template http://www.relationships.org.au/relationship-advice/publications/pdfs/share-the-care-parenting-plan.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.