Creating Stability in Periods of Family Change – Episode Overview
The statistics share that about half of marriages end in divorce. Many other families are affected by business travel, military deployment or even parent incarceration – all can upset the stability and pulse of the household. How do you create an environment to get your kids ready for life when things around you are changing? And, how do you work together to provide consistent, loving support for your kids when your emotions are challenged by life’s situations? Big questions that need answers to help us help our kids progress successfully to adulthood.
Attention and Intention
This week, my attention is on families interrupted by change or distance. My intention is to share some great information to help those in this situation create a constant, stable environment that has all parties unified in their parenting to stay focused on helping their kids get ready for life.
Meet our guest Nancy Fagan
Nancy Fagan is the CEO of Fairy Good Heart LLC.™ She provides parenting tools and resources to help parents and children thrive in times of separation due to divorce, military deployment, business travel, mental health issues, addictions, prison or foster care. She is a nationally recognized divorce and family relationship expert, a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Romance, Desirable Men: How to Find Them and Fables of Fairy Good Heart: Divorce—A Parent’s Love Lasts Forever.
Episode’s Key TakeAWays
- There are two types of situations that separate families
- Physical separation:
- Kids starting school, camp, daycare, school event – events that take the kids away from the parents that can be anxiety-causing.
- Business travel – parents who leave for work like truck drivers, merchant marines, military deployment – where work keeps parents away from family.
- Life changes – divorce, illness, incarceration, financial pressures, immigration – intentional or unintentional events that separate kids and parents.
- Emotional separation:
- Where parents are emotionally unavailable due to illness, addiction, depression, attending to another child (special needs).
- Where parents are emotionally unavailable due to technology (phone, Facebook, television), always work focused, preoccupation with status or money, personally disinterested in kids (step kids, etc).
- Physical separation:
Both types of separations create instability at home. Some are more extreme. The first way to address this to be able to create a stable and consistent environment for your kids is to NOTICE – to see which of these situations is affecting which of your kids (all kids are different and respond differently to separations). Being observant is critical to noticing when things are unstable and affecting the development of the kids.
- Dealing with family change as parents
- Remember you are affected by some of the situations affecting the family: divorce, separation, illness, depression, addiction, etc). Focusing on what you need to stay sane and calm is critical to being able to provide a stable environment for your kids.
- Know and watch your triggers in stressful situations – like a parent dealing with running the household while another parent travels, is deployed, is incarcerated, etc. What help can you get with the daily tasks and what ways do you make time for your own mental health?
- Sometimes a tough current situation can be solved by seeing the longer view – that what is a struggle today is getting you or the family ready for better, saner, calmer times ahead can help parents deal with the stress of separation or change – this could include job relocation, going to school while working and parenting, jobs with significant travel, military deployment, etc.
- Dealing with family change affecting the kids
- Tune in and pay attention to when the kids are feeling any kind of physical or emotional separation – be aware and responsive.
- Identify what is causing the separation response and create a plan right away with the child. This could be a parent that is always on the computer or phone and needs to create times in the day to be available. It could be a parent that works away from the area and is around only on weekends, and makes a more significant effort to make more time with the kids on the weekend.
- Divorce is a flashpoint for keeping a sane and consistent environment for kids. Commit to keeping the kids out of the conflict, commit to working together when it comes to raising the kids, commit to creating consistent living arrangements or life rules between households (parallel parenting). Put the child’s interests first. Saying negative things about the other partner or spouse is hurtful and challenging for kids, and creates future emotional challenges.
- Tune in, be observant, really listen and pay attention to what is happening, change what you can change, be intentional in your response to keep or provide some sort of balance, develop your support system to stay resilient as you handle or deal with the change.
Some question for parents:
- Are you a distracted parent (for any reason) – unavailable to your kids?
- What do you do to close the distance gap if you are separated from your kids for any intentional or unintentional reason?
- How are you keeping your kids first if you are in a divorce or adversarial situation with a spouse?
- Do you take into account the impact on the family and kids as you make life decisions and choices?
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