Are you a collaborative family lawyer; barrister; social worker; teacher; counsellor or therapist? Want to help make a difference for separating families all around the UK? Why not order your copies of our practical guidebook to pass on to parents today!
‘For Kids’ Sake!’: Practical Support for Separated Parenting
Parents can now find many of our workshop materials & research articles compiled into one handy publication!
This A5 size booklet has already proven to be a fantastic resource of practical support for all separating/divorcing parents.
We’re asking family law firms, mediation services and any other parenting community services to help support us by ordering copies of the guidebook to pass on to your clients so parents can benefit from our practical, child-focused, collaborative guidance.
A donation of £7 per copy is all we ask and you can purchase copies (min. 10) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07789497275.
All funds received from the sale of our Guidebook allows us to offer subsidised or free support & training to parents who are experiencing financial hardship.
Download our recommended booklist for children: Childrens Booklist
The Family ‘Solar System’: Emotional Impact of Separation on Children
The realisation that parents are no longer together can feel pretty devastating for children. It’s like tectonic plates shifting and experiencing the effects of an earthquake. But as with all dramatic change it is how we support ourselves that is indicative of how well we recover. The more we nurture and take care of ourselves, the better and quicker we will heal and move forward into acceptance. Children and young people are incredibly adaptable, robust and resilient if given sufficient support.
With all the emotional losses and endings, just as in experiencing a death, this series of unexpected and unwanted dramatic changes can make us feel like our entire solar system has been thrown into turmoil. Sometimes losing a parent might feel like our sun or moon has disappeared as it’s true to say that parents are the planets that children revolve around. And they certainly want to be seen as the centre of your universe!
Whenever there is gravitational discord between two parents, children are the first ones to pick up on these signals, just as tiny bees feel vibration through their finely- tuned antennae, children can feel confused, disorientated and express discomfort.
Their reference points are quickly out of sync. Similarly, when parents separate, it feels like one planet (or both) has been eclipsed for a while but hopefully, not for too long, whilst you work out the practicalities, support and recover yourselves and begin your own healing process too. Our gravitational pull will go awry for a while until we have mourned, grieved and healed and it can take a while for our (solar) family system to find a new dynamic.
Through all of this, you and your children will be feeling incredibly ‘raw’ – like being severely sunburned out in the desert. And yet you have to seem to be functioning normally when all of this has happened. It’s hard to muddle along when you are feeling so sore and sensitive and many other relationships will be put under strain when you’re not feeling like ‘yourself’. Trying to grip onto some sense of normality when your usual references are no longer the same takes time to adjust and adapt.
Listen to the Voice of the Child of Divorce
Riding the Cortisol Roller Coaster: anxiety and depression in children
Concerned about your child who seems fatigued, frazzled and lacking in motivation? This could be linked to their cortisol levels and over exposure to stress when younger.
Research has discovered a link between child behavioural issues, high cortisol levels and poor performance at school. Cortisol is the steroid hormone produced by the cortex of the adrenal gland that helps in responding to and coping with stress, trauma and environmental extremes. It regulates our blood glucose, the immune system and helps to increase energy and metabolism and regulate blood pressure. But when cortisol is over-secreted during our ‘fight or flight’ panic response, it can cause physical and mental health issues and over time can become considerably diluted.It would seem that the body adapts to long-term exposure to stress by diluting or shutting down the cortisol system – which affects our overall health if not functioning well and helping regulate our hormonal responses.
Children demonstrating either ‘internalising’ behaviours, such as depression and anxiety or ‘externalising’ behaviours, such as aggression or attention deficit are on the cortisol ‘roller coaster’. Over time, too much internalising or externalising can create a blunting affect to cortisol levels. It’s like shaking up a cola bottle. The bottle once containing a normal amount of bubbles, becomes so full of energetic bubbles that it either explodes or erupts in short, sharp bursts until there is virtually no fizz left or it’s all gone flat.
Teenagers who deal with prolonged stress issues may become disengaged and less reactive to normal stresses. They often don’t seem to ‘step up’ academically or get busy studying for their exams as quickly as their peers. A frazzled seemingly ‘not bothered’ attitude can become the norm. Fatigue can ensue and this impaired stress response can lead to further anxiety and depression.
Mood disorders, as well as ongoing anxiety and depression can manifest and lead to physical changes in the brain. The brain shifts into less functional patterns, altering mood and affecting short-term memory function.
So what are contributory factors to high cortisol levels? Over-worked at school; separated or divorced parents and exposure to their conflict; bullying; long-term friendship issues; poverty; family loss and abandonment are just a few indicators.
How can we tackle the issue? By seeking help from nutritionists and therapists; trying to avoid stressful situations and keeping the channels of communication open. Following a healthy diet, regular exercise, reducing caffeine, ensuring more rest and better care of oneself is key. Don’t let it get to a state of crisis! If young children are showing signs of stress then seek help as soon as possible.
CREATING A ‘SAFE-ROOF’ EFFECT FOR CHILDREN
How is it possible to work together as parents when it seems you disagree on everything? When you are both so wound up by the personal conflict that this can often be ‘played out’ in front of your child.
Remember, children can be very astute and pretty clever at figuring out how to get what they want. They can be especially good at achieving this when they observe that you don’t speak or see each other. This in itself is not necessarily bad, (particularly when there is high conflict) however, you don’t want them to be keeping secrets or lying to both of you and potentially finding themselves in an unsafe situation.
The beauty of being a parent is that you want to pass on all the good stuff you were given to your children. Often, in the process of divorcing or separating we lose touch with ourselves, no longer recognising our skills & strengths as parents. We’re no longer able to celebrate our children together, which can lead to an extremely sad and fragmented family situation. The opportunities to share the good moments and our children’s achievements are very rare when separated.
It’s easy to compare and criticise each other’s parenting styles more then ever when separated, especially when we really don’t see eye to eye. The love ‘glue’ that was once applied to heal and patch up your differences or help you find a compromise has dissolved. So how do you find a way to work together when the foundation you once built up has collapsed?
Some see this as an opportunity to finally bring up their child as they see fit and even more reason to have their own unique parenting style. Whilst this is perfectly fine, it’s best to agree on and stick to at least 3 core values that you both want for your child – such as manners, boundaries, swearing, mealtimes, etc. The rest can be flexible, allowing each of you to enjoy your time with your child, demonstrating your individual styles of parenting whilst still respecting each other’s skill set. Remember, difference is good and offers more opportunities for your child!
Your children need to know they have a ‘safe roof’ over their heads. Not only a literal one but a metaphorical one provided by you both.