After 20 years of helping children and families as a therapist and through my own personal experiences, I’ve seen a lot. As a therapist who has specialized in high conflict divorce and gone on to train therapists world-wide on how to navigate high conflict divorce cases, I have some advice for parents going through divorce.
I, myself, am a parent who went through a divorce nearly 20 years ago and as a step-parent had to navigate a necessary and very complex custody court case 15 years ago. So, I do understand on both a personal level and as a mental health professional how hard divorce is for the children and the adults.
This is an open letter to any and all parents who are going through a divorce. It’s a letter about the urgent importance of YOUR self-care and about your children’s wellbeing.
Dear Parents Going Through Divorce,
Divorce is hard on everyone. Maybe it’s human nature or maybe it’s the way our legal system is set up. Regardless the reasons, divorce is hard on everyone. You are likely experiencing a vast array of intense emotions with anger and resentment often leading the charge. It’s understandable.
It’s important, first, to simply accept that divorce is difficult and you will need to employ important strategies to get through it and get to the other side of it with as little damage as possible. There are specific things you can do to survive and have the process go more smoothly for yourself, your child’s other parent and for your child. You can make a difference.
- Set up your own self-care plan and system. You need and deserve your own support. This might come in the form of…
- Your own personal counseling
- A support group for divorcing parents
- A weekly gathering of good friends
- Regular exercise and healthy nutrition — avoid self-medicating with alcohol, food or other things that are not good for you
- Forms of relaxation such as gentle yoga, meditation or breath work
- Regular opportunities for laughter (comedy shows, comedy clubs, laughter-yoga classes, hanging out with funny friends)
- Reading uplifting books and articles