7 tips to help children thrive after separation
Supporting children through separation can feel like going to the supermarket with an empty stomach. It is easy to end up wandering through the aisles, feeling confused and overwhelmed, getting some snacks, and not enough ingredients to make a wholesome meal.
These tips can serve as “a shopping list” to help you save time, energy and focus on being there for your children while dealing with the challenges of separation or even completely reinventing yourself and your life.
How it works:
There are seven weekly emails, one for each tip. They are connected and stack one on top of the other. Once you have implemented the first tip, the second one will make more sense and so on.
The first tip will be on its way to your inbox as soon as you have completed the subscription form below.
To read a short description of each tip, scroll further down this page.
Tip 1: How to slow down and make space to enjoy being with your children
Think of your relationship with your children as a protective bubble that surrounds them everywhere they go. Imagine that their life events are outside that bubble and get filtered through it before they get to your children. Your relationship plays an important part in how your children experience events in their life. I believe that focusing on nurturing your relationship with your children is the best way to soften the impact of separation. Their experience of being known and understood by you can help them to make sense of what is happening in their world and keep it intact.
In this email, I share a 9-minute guided relaxation that will help you to:
Take a break from your to-do list
Connect with what you love and appreciate about your children
Set yourself up for parenting feeling calmer and more present
Tip 2: A simple practice to help you feel more confident and relaxed with your children
We know from attachment research that the foundation for children’s emotional security is their parents’ emotional security. Luckily, it is not set in stone. With care, you can grow and deepen your sense of security. Nurturing your sense of security is a gift to yourself, your children and many generations to come.
This email introduces a simple practice that can help you strengthen your sense of security and share it with your children.
Tip 4: How to welcome your children's big feelings, even when it is uncomfortable or scary
As parents, we want our children to be happy. Of course. When dealing with separation, this inside pressure to keep it all ok for your children can rise to a whole new level. However, when it gets in the way of your ability to welcome your children’s uncomfortable emotions (sadness, disappointment, anger, hatred, shame), it limits the bandwidth of your connection. It limits your conversations about separation and how much you can support them through this transition.
In this email, I talk about four simple steps that can help you ease this pressure off and move towards feeling more comfortable with your children’s big feelings.
Tip 3: Two simple questions that can help you to connect with your children
When you have so much to deal with, it can be easy to slip into autopilot mode, and days can go by without really connecting with your children. Those moments of connection are important. They fill up your children's cup, help them regulate their emotions and trust that all is well in their world.
In this email, I share a way of creating more moments of connection in your day. I love this approach to creating more moments of connection with your children because it is not about doing more. It does not require elaborate planning or more of your time. It is about coming to the same situations with a slightly different awareness. You can become more present with your children by asking yourself two simple questions.
Tip 5: How befriending your triggers can save you time and energy
Recognising when you are triggered, pausing to take a few breaths and then carrying on parenting from a calmer, more grounded place is a true parenting ninja move because the very nature of triggered states is about acting quickly, not about stepping back and reflecting. When you take the time to pause and breathe, you give yourself a much better chance to parent in a way that feels good to you and safe to your children.
This email is about a fast and reliable way to recognise when you are triggered and how you can look after yourself in those moments.
Tip 6: Simple listening tips that will help you understand your children
Children often need help to make sense of how they are feeling and to put it into words. These 5 tips can be helpful in any conversation and especially when children ask questions about separation. Think of your children's questions as the tip of the iceberg - often, there is more to it. Here are a couple of examples of what children might be trying to express with their questions:
Do you still love daddy? - Will you love me no matter what?
Will you get back together again? - I desperately want you to get back together. I am struggling to accept that this is happening. I feel stuck and confused.
Why can't I stay with you tonight? - There have been too many changes in my world recently. I feel lost. I need a break.
Mummy lets me eat in my bedroom, why can't I do it here? - Please show me that you can take charge of this situation here in a thoughtful way so that I can feel safe with you.
In this email, I share some listening exercises that can help you shift your focus from answering the first question that comes to embracing this opportunity to connect with your children. Approaching children's questions this way can help you to:
Let go of the pressure to come up with an answer and relax into knowing that you can figure out the answers together
Help your children trust their gut instincts, feelings and judgements (especially if they might be are hearing confusing, contradicting messages)
Feel confident in your parenting
Understand how your children are feeling, what they are hoping for, what is important or challenging for them
Tip 7: Conversation starters to help you begin a difficult conversation with your children
I know all too well how tempting it can be to avoid talking about difficult topics because I have done it over and over again. Yet each time I managed to show up for the conversation, I noticed that talking often feels way less scary than thinking about talking. On the other hand, if we don’t make ourselves available for conversations about separation, children tend to blame themselves for what happened and carry that heavy burden all by themselves.
In this email, I share:
Ideas to help you summon your courage for difficult conversations
Four questions you can ask your children to start the conversation
If you would like to hear more, fill in the form below. The first email will be on its way as soon as you have done that, and the subsequent emails will arrive weekly. I hope you will find them supportive, helpful, inspiring, encouraging and empowering.
I am Una Archer, the founder of Parenting after Separation and Circle of Security Parenting facilitator. My experience of going through separation and supporting other separated parents helped me to develop an approach that puts children’s emotional security at the heart of every decision. Using this approach helps parents to:
Soften the impact of separation on their children
Confidently support their children in difficult situations
Help their children feel safe and loved
To find out more about this approach subscribe to my 7 tips to help children thrive after separation.