It is essential to engage in self-care practices to help maintain your physical and emotional health. This is like putting on a life vest when you’re on a sinking ship. Looking after your emotional health is crucial to help you on the journey that is ahead of you and help you connect with your child or children by keeping you in a healthy frame of mind.
Emotional self-care means different things to different people. The key to emotional self-care is being in tune with yourself. Think about a time when you felt happy and healthy, and consider asking yourself the following questions:
What fun or leisure activities did you enjoy? Were there events or outings that you looked forward to?
Did you write down your thoughts in a journal or personal notebook?
Were meditation or relaxation activities a part of your regular schedule?
What inspirational words were you reading? Did you have a particular author or favorite website to go to for inspiration?
Who did you spend time with? Was there someone, or a group of people, that you felt safe and supported around?
Where did you spend your time? Was there a special place, maybe outdoors or at a friend’s house, where you felt comfortable and grounded?
Good physical health can support you through this time. Think about a time when you felt physically healthy, and consider asking yourself the following questions:
How were you sleeping? Did you have a sleep ritual or nap pattern that made you feel more rested?
What types of food were you eating? What meals made you feel healthy and strong?
What types of exercise did you enjoy? Were there any particular activities that made you feel more energized?
Did you perform certain routines? Were there activities you did to start the day off right or wind down at the end of the day?
Setting healthy boundaries involves taking care of yourself and knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want.
It also involves:
Be honest with yourself and with professionals. In high conflict separations often both parties have contributed in some way to the current situation but on different scales. Accept responsibility for any past unhelpful behaviour.
Children are more likely to be drawn to someone who displays remorse and humility rather than someone who is denying unhelpful choices, is arrogant or is defensive.
Here is a helpful link to an article "Take the Warshak Test Before Talking to Children About Your Ex" by Dr Richard A Warshak, author of Divorce Poison. Link HERE
Remember your behaviour, including your words spoken and written, which includes your texts, emails, Facebook and so on, can be used against you by the other parent and submitted as evidence in court. Always speak calmly, speak assertively and never lose your temper.
On-going conflict has a major impact on children, parents and extended family. When a child sees or hears a parent being hurt verbally, emotionally or physically it is similar to children being hurt themselves.
We recommend the following book:
"Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You" by Amy JL. Baker and Paul R. Fine.
And the link below will take you to a very helpful article by Dr Amy JL Baker and Paul R. Fine.
"Beyond the High Road: Responding to 17 Parental Alienation Strategies without Compromising Your Morals or Harming Your Child."
The loss of a child is devastating. Alienated parents experience complex grief for the loss of their child who is still alive. This loss is compounded by being denigrated and vilified as part of the alienation process. Alienated parents experience despair, helplessness, frustration, anger and confusion.
Many alienated parents experience significant financial and emotional costs associated with trying to find a resolution in a legal system and mental health services that do not understand parental alienation.
It is most important that you practice self care every day. Make sure you get regular check ups with your local GP, including blood tests to make sure everything is functionally normally. Stress can have a big impact on the body.
You can get a referral under a mental health plan to a psychologist for additional support and tools to cope with your situation.
Alienated children display unjustified contempt for the alienated parent and an attitude of entitlement toward the alienated parent. They are taught to have a perception of an “all-wonderful” alienating parent and “all-bad” targeted parent. As a result of this alienated children experience disrupted social-emotional development as a consequence of parental alienation.
Alienated children experience a complex grief for the loss of a parent who is still alive. Because this loss is the result of emotional manipulation, alienated children experience psychological difficulties associated with this type of trauma and abuse. Parental alienation causes emotional pain for children.
The long-term outcomes of parental alienation on children include: social isolation, fragile sense of self, anger, depression and anxiety.
Ask yourself these questions: Am I being constructive with my time and energy today? Am I helping my situation with my actions? If my child was to look in on my life would they be attracted to who I am?
Sometimes thoughts can carry you away or they can bring you down when you are grieving for your child or children. It is normal to grieve in these circumstances, but if you are not bouncing back it is important to get additional support through a support group or make an appointment to see a psychologist or counsellor.
When you feel down try to push yourself to go for a walk, turn on some upbeat music, go and catch up with friends that are uplifting or simply try a change of scenery.
The best thing to do is move into self-care mode. Don't feel guilty for taking time out for yourself. Your children need you to look after you so your equipped to handle the situation better.
Sleep is a really important part of our lifes. It helps us to feel well, focused and happy.
Studies say that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation can affect mood, concentration, gastrointestinal systems and our ability to learn information, and solve tasks, amongst other effects.
Be aware that any hurtful or negative comments your child makes about you are not necessarily an accurate reflection of their truly held feelings and thoughts.
Your child or children love you and need you to look after you, so you can be there for them, when the time comes. They need you to understand how difficult their situation is too.
Most children that get stuck in these very difficult situations are not equipped with the tools to cope or stop what is happening. They just want to love both parents.
The situation can change at anytime. But you need to be ready and able to pick up from where you left off. You will need to create a space where your child can come into your life and be able to think and feel for themselves, without any additional emotional pressure from you.
Although many parents want to tell their story to their child, it is best not to. Tell someone like a close friend, people in a support group or a psychologist.
Parents must do their best to protect their children from further emotional and psychological harm and keep them far away from the conflict.
You are never alone. There is support out there. Below we have shared some links.
There are many other parents out there in similar situations. And there are many parents out there reuniting with their children every week. But you must take constructive steps to look after you first so you are in a healthy mindset to reunite.
Call Triple Zero (000) only in life threatening emergencies. When you call:
Stay focused, stay relevant, stay on the line
Lifeline. Crisis Support. Suicide Prevention.
Support - Advice - Action
BeyondBlue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Interrelate specialise in supporting parents and children, and strengthening family relationships.
MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns.
Services and Resources
An extensive list of phone number and resources for men from One in Three.
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