You’d think it would get easier as time goes on to separate from loved ones. Weather it is from your child who is in a two parent home OR from your young college aged child going back to school OR a newly married daughter going back to her new home OR maybe from a spouse or significant other who travels a great deal – it is hard. We are creatures of connection and bonding, so it does hurt when we separate from our loved ones. We can adapt and develop healthy strategies to work with these normal feelings of upset when we must be away for extended periods from our family.
Here are some things to consider in easing the hurt of separating from loved ones:
- Acknowledge your feelings of upset. Sharing your feelings of upset with another loved one or a friend can help. If need be you can just acknowledge them to your self. Maybe writing your feelings in a journal to validate and externalize them. The important thing is to honor and respect how you feel. It is ok to grieve a bit.
- Put the separation in context. Looking at the bigger picture can help. IF your child lives in two homes, then you might think about what are the healthy parts of this situation. You might concentrate on what is best for your child as to having contact with both of his or her biological parents. IF your child is going back to college, you might focus on the fact that they are preparing themselves for a future that they desire and will hopefully bring joy and happiness to them. Something you want for them. IF your adult child is going back to their new home, you can be happy for them in their ability to have a relationship and live an independent life of their choice. This is a normal, natural progression and one that shows you did a good job. IF your spouse or significant other travels a great deal, you might look at why he or she does this – possibly to provide for the family or make a living doing something that uses their skill set or makes them feel satisfied or happy. The point is to broaden your look outside of yourself. This is not to discount your feelings of upset, but to possibly add to the view by seeing the broader context.
- Retrieve and replay the “Good Times” to become your touchstone. Your memories of good times together are always there to bring back up for reflection and for looking back on in your mind. Even if we are feeling upset, we can let the “good times” we have had come back up to enjoy. Let the “good times” continue to shine and warm your heart.
- Create a solid plan of how to stay connected. This is one of the things that can most help in being separated from the ones you love. This can be a collaborative effort in finding ways that you can still connect if you are not in the same physical place. With today’s technology this is so much easier than it was for past generations. Not only can you call but you can text and email and Skype and what ever else that is available. Let us not forget the handwritten note. It is now a bit of a treat to get a hand written note from a loved one. Small packages or gifts can be exchanged. And of course planning as much physical time together as you can. The trick with all of this is to of course just take time to schedule and plan to do these things that keep us in each other’s lives when we are away from each other. I want to say I am not talking about being invasive or over the top having
to be with another each moment, I am talking about collaborating and finding a mutual plan of action that works on both ends. With of course some spontaneous acts of connecting too.
- Live your own life to the fullest. You now have time to focus on you and what you want to do and achieve. Use this time to really be with yourself and do what makes you happy – whether it is a new work project or an activity that brings you joy or a feeling of satisfaction or fulfillment. You might even see this as a gift of time for you to create or explore or renew yourself, whatever it is that you may need. Choose to be happy and fulfilled.
- Use positive self talk to keep yourself on track. This is saying things to yourself that show you are confident that all is well and will be ok. For example you might say to yourself some of the following: “I miss . . . . . . but I know we can stay connected.” “I am planning on a weekly call to . . . . . . . . so I know we will stay in touch.” “I know this is a good thing for . . . . . . . I am happy for him.” “We are setting up a plan of when to see each other. I know we will stay connected and close.” “I now have time to work on . . . . . . . I am going to enjoy this time working on this.” “Even though I am sad, I know I will be ok.”
So yes it can hurt to separate from your loved ones, but you can stay connected and you can find ways to use this time to still find happiness. Talk with your loved one and make a plan on how to stay connected and then decide for yourself about how you can find your own happiness too. Best wishes on being both separated and connected.
Are you wanting to let go, but find it hard? Holding on and being stuck in our upset can cause much unhappiness. Learning to “let go” and “be happy” is easier than we may think. So what does it mean to let go? Here is a summary of my take on what it means to let go and make room for happiness to come into your life.
First of all what letting go is not about. It is not about letting others be abusive or treat us badly and decide it is ok. It is not about letting a situation continue that is unhealthy.
Letting go is about – CHOOSING to let something not be the “focus”and move on to a different place, CHOOSING to let in the good, CHOOSING to be happy, CHOOSING to live in the now. It is about focusing on OUR response.
What do we need to do to get to the place where we can feel we are ready to let something go? Here are a few things to consider as you think about incorporating more “letting go” into your life.
- First of all, acknowledge and give honor to your upset feelings. Your feelings are important and your guide posts as to helping you know what needs to be addressed and possibly not addressed. Regardless, how you feel is important. You have a right to your feelings, all of them.
- Consider what you are upset about. Is it worth your time and energy to carry it with you? Our upsets can be put on a very wide continuum. For example: A store clerk is rude. Traffic is extra tough and you get home 15 minutes later than normal. Someone does not agree with your idea in a meeting. Your husband forgets to tell you about a change in plans. Your child does not study for a test and gets a bad grade. Your cat throws up on your carpet. Most of the household chores are being done by you and you are not happy about it. All work and no play. Your partner is depressed and not responsive. You need more connection with your spouse or significant other. The doctor’s appointment does not go well and you have a serious diagnosis. Your mom dies and you are devastated. So, yes we have a spectrum of what may be upsetting us.
- Are the small irritations and disappointments worth our time and focus? Probably not. We can acknowledge our feelings and decide to let it go. If it increases as a problem, we can choose to do something different. If your upset is moderate to big, we will have some additional steps to work through.
- Larger upsets may require some action on our part. CHOOSING what to do after some thoughtful consideration is a part of this plan. Here are some possible things to consider.
- Would it help to talk to someone? A neutral or supportive party? Or the person who is involved in the upset?
- Simply talking about our feelings and acknowledging them helps to begin to lessen the power of these feelings. The intensity of how we feel can lesson and we can begin to see more clearly. 1) If you are choosing to talk with a supportive friend, consider one who is more of a listener opposed to telling you what to do. 2) If you choose to talk with the person who is involved in the upset, then try to do it when you are not in a high reactive state, but one on in which you feel you can talk in a low, calm thoughtful way as much as possible with a respectful tone. This will help to create an atmosphere in which the other person will be able to hear you without becoming defensive and be able to respond in a thoughtful way.
- Deciding what you need to feel better and taking action to make that happen. If this involves another then it may mean exploring ideas that will work for both of you. This may be a process, but just beginning this interaction will take you where you want to go. It may mean letting go of rigid ideas of what has to happen to make it better. Seeing both sides and coming to a point that peace and what you both can live with may be the answer. This said, there may be some things that do not have a middle ground. For example a third-party involvement in a relationship or an ongoing drug or alcohol issue. A decisive stance or action on your part my be part of what is needed. If this is an individual issue, it may involve deciding what is best for you and then moving toward this action.
- Forgiveness may be a part of the plan. This is a letting go process and one that is not always simple. But it is attainable. Forgiveness is not saying you are ok with a betrayal or a hurtful interaction, etc. It is about choosing to come to a place of letting it go to let the good come back in. And beginning the process of re-building and healing.
- Shift to a happier place. Begin to focus on what makes you feel happy. You can build on this, creating more of what you want in your life.
We all have to decide how much power we want something to have over us. Sometimes we may need to have a time of grief, especially with a significant loss. This is normal and part of what we may need. At some point with small or large things we can come to a point of deciding if we are ready to let go or at least partially let go and let the good stuff back into our life. Happiness and joy is something we all deserve. We have the power to create the life we want.
Balancing helping your child to feel loved and nurtured AND setting limits can feel challenging. At first look they can feel like opposites. But they are not. I see nurturing and limit setting as the two sides of the same coin. Both are needed to make a whole. One without the other does not work. If it is all nurturing and no limit setting, the results may be children who have difficulties with self control. If it all limit setting and no nurturing , the results may be children who may feel they cannot do anything right or have a low self esteem or who do not feel loved by their parent. Let’s look at what we can do to make sure both of these sides are covered in our families.
Strategies to Create a Well Rounded Parenting Style of Nurturing and Limit Setting ♥ + ( ) = Ÿ
- In families sometimes parents get stuck in playing out one of these roles as the other parent plays out the other role. For example one is the nurturing, listening and I’m here for you parent and the other is the limit setter / enforcer parent. It has a bit of a good cop / bad cop feel to it. And it can cause some problems and issues to evolve. For the parent who is only the limit setter, it can feel like they are the “meanie” to the kids as they are only seeing this one side of the parent. And for the parent who is only playing the nurturing role they appear to be the “fun” or “nice” one. There are lots of pieces to this dynamic. One is that one parent may see a strong role being played by the other parent, so they take on the other to balance things out. Understandable, but it gives a one sided view to the child of each of the parents. It is so much more healthy to share in these two roles, each nurturing and limit setting.
- Communication as parents is critical in the balancing of the roles that the parents play and in making sure in general that both parents are nurturing and limit setting. Really seeing the pattern in your family can help to assess and shift if need be to create a more healthy balance.
- Listen to what your children are saying to you. Are they calling you “mean”? Are they saying something like “Daddy always lets me.” or “You never listen to me.” We can learn a lot from what our children say as to how they view us. Really tuning in to what your children say to you can help you to see if you are balanced and covering both roles. Of course, children are not always happy with a limit, even if they are getting lots of nurturing. But the intensity of upset and the depth of feeling will be very different. And the ability to accept a limit will be more apparent with a child who feels nurtured and loved.
- If you catch yourself feeling like you only are playing one or the other role, then you can shift and change that. If you are more of the disciplinarian, then you can purposefully do more engaging, relationship building with your child. If you notice your spouse is the one who sets all the limits and you hang back as it looks like it is being taken care of, you can change this by on purpose being more involved in setting limits or boundaries.
- If you are a family in transition, with a separation or divorce in process, it is very important to try to communicate and create a healthy balance with these roles. So many times the parent who has the children in their physical care the most, tend to fall into more of the limit setting role and the other may fill the weekend “let’s have fun” role. I might note, it is the opposite in some cases. Both is needed of course, but if only one role is played at the one house, then there is a missing piece to the puzzle and an in-balance that is not healthy.
- Let children know why you limit set or have boundaries or ask that they do a particular thing. It can help when they know that you limit set to protect and you do this because you love them. You might look at an earlier post I did on May 8, 2014, Setting Boundaries with Love. https://creatingbranches.com/2014/05/08/setting-boundaries-with-love/ It has some example of how you can combine limit setting with words of love. This makes limits and boundaries so much easier for children to accept.
Last of all I feel I should say limit and boundary setting is a topic of it’s own. Positive guidance and discipline and how we do this as parents does make a difference. Future blog posts will feature some key ideas in regard to positive guidance and discipline.
Just remember you are providing a solid foundation for a child who feels unconditionally loved with a high self esteem and a child who can self regulate and care for others when you act both as a nurturer and a limit setter. This is one of the reasons why being a parent is one of the most important roles you will ever hold.
My favorite, simple, easy to navigate, concise book for divorcing or divorced parents is the TransParenting Parent Handbook. It’s been around for a while, but I really like it. The purpose of this book is to provide information on how to help children adjust to a changing family structure due to divorce. To access this book go to their website: www.transparenting.com . Go to the Purchase Transparenting Materials tab. It is currently about $16. to purchase. This has been used in the Helping Kids Cope with Divorce program.
As I was recently in this site, I found it refers to another website: www.UpToParents.org . This is an excellent site that contains information in the way of articles and videos that are to help divorcing or divorced parents to reduce conflict and focus on the needs of children. It contains a Parent Corner and a Professional Corner.
In addition I discovered a website called: www.ProudToParent.org , which is intended for parents who have never married.This is a unique website set to address a group that is not always included in the conversation of two homes for children.
One last new discovery is a website for parents who still feel they can save their marriage and are trying to manage this in between, difficult situation. This website is: www.whileweheal.com . So if this would be a situation that you are trying to manage, I hope you will check it out.
This is a challenging time for children and parents both, but with collaborative, co-parenting it can be managed in a way to help chlldren adjust in the most healthy way possible.