Happy Parent, Happy Child
My parents were divorced in the 1970s. They succeeded in creating a truly positive separation, and their divorce set the example for my own separation over ten years ago.
At the time of my divorce, I had three young children. When things got rough, I kept reminding myself to apply the “oxygen mask” principle: take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. If I wanted to be a great mother, I had to do whatever it took to make myself feel balanced and happy, and make my positive future my highest priority. Then, I could share my happiness with them, because I’d be operating from a more positive baseline.
Children can―and should be allowed to―love both of their parents, regardless of whether those parents love each other. So you have to open your heart and allow that, no matter what you think of your ex. This gets much easier when you follow the simple tips below.
8 tips for positive parenting in separation
Pull yourself out of the pit Do not make it even more difficult for yourself by diving deeper into the well of fear, anger, tears, and chaos. Stay away from the negative spiral, even if your friends and family are pushing you in that direction. Instead, focus on yourself and your behavior, and dedicate your energy to creating a new start.
Get clear on what kind of parent you want to be. Are you focused on loving your child or countering your ex?
Remember that children follow your example. Are you positive? Then they will be, too. Do you care for yourself? They will do that too. Getting good sleep, exercising together, eating healthy meals, and spending time being cozy together are great ways to start a new, positive routine.
Get professional help! Sometimes, you just need an objective perspective to get moving in the right direction. Getting professional help also steers you away from unhelpful (although well-meaning) advice from family and friends. Your kids will benefit from seeing you doing what’s necessary to help yourself. They may benefit from professional support of their own, too!
Be consistent. Keep your promises to both your children and your ex. Make sure your kids can count on you.
Be a person your child can be proud of. Negative behavior increases your kids’ stress, too. When you display a positive attitude toward life, your future, and your current situation, your children will experience more stability and be more likely to see you as a strong, safe haven in their current upheaval.
Laugh every day. Even if it takes effort, try to find something to giggle about. Laughter really is the best medicine!
Remember that your children have two parents. Unless there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse, addiction, or other dangers, try to divide your kids’ time fairly between you and your ex. Don’t compete for time or attention from them, and try to make special events you are both attending―like graduations, concerts, sports games, etc.―all about your kids.
Choose a Star Action as a
Gift to Yourself Today!
The Star Actions are part of my Positive Separation Method and give you a positive boost in the direction of happiness. You can learn more about Star Actions in this post.
Spend 30 minutes with your kids. Even if you have a busy night, sit down for half an hour extra and join your kids in what they love to do. Even if you have to sit next to them playing their favorite game. Let them explain to you why they like it so much or listen to all their favorite songs. Joint fun = best fun, and it heals hearts.
Prepare a craft activity for the weekend, even if your house gets a little messy or you feel you do not have the energy. Share some of the photos with family and friends. They will love to see you smiling and being positive with your kids.
Buy or pick a little bunch of flowers. Give each child a little vase with flowers for their room. Even boys and cranky teenagers will like the gesture!
Eveline Jurry is the creator of the Positive Separation Method™ and the author of three books, including ‘Happy Again! The Art of Positive Separation’. From her home base in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, she teaches people how to create a happy future during and after divorce or separation.