Life Coach Alice Johnsen talks about the rise of family breakups and how best a family can try to cope with this upheaval.
Family breakups come in many different forms. The death of a parent or, God forbid, a child, is the cruellest, hardest crisis to cope with. The ongoing shock waves of such a tragedy rip through the rest of our lives and people cope in different ways.
However, the effects of other breakups can be just as long lasting. For the purpose of this blog I am going to use the term ‘divorce’ to cover all forms of relationship break down where one partner leaves the family structure.
So – divorce. An ugly, frightening word bringing a period of unknown and turmoil to a family’s life. Every situation is different, of course, but all situations will take time to adapt to and move on from. Whilst parents are dealing with the legal side of their break up they have also got to keep their eye on maintaining family life as best they can. Whichever parent has primary care of the children has the responsibility for providing comfort and stability in their children’s uprooted world. Again, situations will vary, especially according to children’s ages and the nature of the breakup (i.e. is there a third party to complicate matters, was it a slow breakdown of the relationship or a sudden, shock decision) but the importance of keeping the daily grind going, the routine of everyday life, cannot be underestimated. That alone will provide much needed comfort – we are, after all, creatures of habit.
How much you tell your children will again depend on how old they are or how much they have worked out already. Keeping the channels of communication open between them and you will never have been so important – or so challenging. Resisting the temptation to talk down your soon-to-be ex, their other parent, is crucial. They, your children, must be left to come to their own conclusions in their own time about their parents. They will, when they are ready. Where possible, making time to sit round the table with them after their day at school to share a meal and to talk – and listen – will strengthen that feeling of family despite the changes going on. If you are not sure how to start talking to your children about building a new family structure, you can’t go wrong with a “Daily Jobs, Weekly Jobs” talk about who is doing what. Handing out and sharing (possibly new) responsibilities of putting the bins out, emptying the dishwasher or walking the dog before school, for example, will all help to create the revised feeling of family. At the same time, it is important to resist the temptation to pass on jobs done previously by your spouse or partner to your children that they are, perhaps, too young to be doing. Remember, you are adapting to this new situation together. Hopefully this can lead on to discussions about family goals, joint activities, planning trips away. But let it all take time.
On top of all this, the end of a relationship will almost certainly have damaged your confidence significantly. This lowering of your confidence comes at a time when you face constant new challenges – setting up the new structure of your family life, moving house, changing your career or working life – not to mention going into legal battle with your ex-partner. So, at a time when you really need to be on top of your game, the chances are you are not.
That is where I can help. Not only will I listen and guide you through individual issues or challenges as they present themselves, I can support you when you are building your new family life, new routines, new habits. By getting these little daily things right, or as right as they can be, you will be better placed to face the bigger challenges of separation, and so will your family. My support will be objective, honest and constant. Together we can work to build your confidence back up so you can face the battles ahead on your strongest possible form. I will help you look at your new situation in different ways, from different angles, so you can see how things really are or how they could be. As your Life Coach, I will not be giving you any legal guidance – that is not what I am there for; but if the rest of your life is back on track and sorted out as much as possible you will be in a far stronger position to sort out the legalities of your divorce. Just as important, your family will be as strong and as positive as it can be and that, at the end of the day, is everyone’s number one goal.
Perhaps an informal chat with Alice could help you. Contact her on 07961 080513 or 01935 873112 or visit www.alicejohnsen.co.uk for more information.