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When parents move on from relationships, they sometimes leave a wave of fury in their wake. It’s not always for the reasons you would expect. Men and women cheat and still leave partners on good terms while others never seem to be happy no matter what their former other-half might do.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s damaging to children when parents let their anger affect the kids.
One mother in the South Eastern district of London began lying to her children about their dad, who they see on a regular basis. She convinced them to say nasty things about him to other people too, including accusations of abuse.
After observing the family members’ interactions, Circuit Court Judge Charles Atkins determined the mother’s bitterness had become psychologically damaging to the children. Her actions were extreme enough to be considered emotional abuse. Social services had similar concerns, and in the end, the woman lost primary custody of her children. The court awarded sole custody to their father, and social services will be monitoring her visits until they determine she’s a healthy influence in their lives.
How to Process Your Pain in Healthy Ways to Protect Your Children
The end of a long-term relationship – of a family unit – is a lot like death in some ways. You have to mourn the end of what you thought your lives were going to be. It’s important to deal with the pain in healthy ways, so you don’t get stuck at any one stage of grief.
Why is it doubly important for parents to stay on top of their mental health? Your kids are going through the same process and will need your help!
Here are three ways you can shoulder the stress:
- Focus on your physical health. At the start of your divorce, you might have been in the worse shape of your life. The additional stress won’t help. It could push you into a health crisis. The good news is focusing on simple tasks can help you handle the emotional chaos that comes with a serious breakup. Keep track of how often you drink water, sleep and exercise. Make it a point to eat healthy food. While mundane, these small steps lay the foundation for a sturdy new beginning.
- Find emotional reinforcements. Shock, guilt, anger, depression. You’ll have to face them all at some point, but you shouldn’t go it alone. Doing that puts you at risk for leaning on your children for support. They have enough to worry about on their own, right? Don’t be ashamed or afraid to see a counselor while dealing with the pain of a divorce. A neutral third-party can help you process your emotions and keep appropriate boundaries. If necessary, a therapist can also prescribe antidepressants to get you through the worst.
- Reinforce the connections that count. Many people leave one relationship and jump into another to heal their wounds. Bringing a new person into your grieving process will do more harm than good. Instead of investing time in becoming a better romantic partner, spend that time becoming a better parent, a better child, a better sibling. Focus on making your current relationships the best they’ve ever been before you head into a new one. Your children aren’t the only ones who will benefit.