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By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
A friend of mine, Nancy Michaels, a woman I respect in many ways, shared a personal story in one of her blog posts: At the lowest period in my life about three years ago, after a painful separation from my husband, a life-threatening illness, custody loss of my children, and having to return to my parents’ home for them to take care of me – my father said this on a particularly bad day, “Nancy, the only thing you have to do today is get better. Don’t worry about anything else.”
As simple as those two sentences are, it was exactly what I needed to hear and I started feeling grateful that that truly was my one and only responsibility. If I got better, the rest would fall in place. Thankfully, it has, Dad.
I know Nancy is not alone. There are days – yes, weeks and months – when life can seem awfully low. Often overbearing. The weight can seem just too much to carry. Life changes related to divorce frequently play a part in these circumstances. And when you’re a parent at the same time … well, you know how it feels!
Just know, as well, that you’re not alone. Parenting is tough for everyone, even under the best of circumstances. Parenting through and beyond divorce takes enormous focus and a continuous need for compassion, both for yourself and your children.
If you take it day by day, you will find the strength and even the wisdom to make decisions that tap into your innate wisdom and love for your children. But it’s also essential to parent and nurture yourself at the same time. Take a tip from the airlines when they instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first before providing oxygen to your children. You need to be alert and functioning well before you can make decisions on behalf of the children who matter so deeply to you.
So get the help you need to recharge, de-stress and unwind from time to time. Share your frustrations with a caring friend or a compassionate counselor who specializes in divorce issues. Join a support group for divorced Moms or Dads. Reach out to churches or other spiritual resources that empower you. Treat yourself to a massage, concert, evening out, weekend away from the kids or other activity that energizes your psyche.
Don’t suffer or brood alone. We all need help, support and encouragement from an outside source that we respect. We can’t always give it to ourselves – but we can and must let others know when we need a shoulder to cry on, a babysitter for an occasional indulgence or a team of reinforcement when the burden of moving on feels too heavy.
And keep my friend Nancy’s advice in mind. Sometimes all you need is to take care of yourself for a day – and you’ll have the clearer perspective you need to make sound decisions on behalf of your children. Whether you’re a divorced co-parent or single parent, remember your first obligation is to parent yourself with loving compassion. Your family will thank you!
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!. For free articles, her blog, coaching, valuable resources on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com. © Rosalind Sedacca 2009. All rights reserved.