COPING WITH FAMILY STRESS

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Learn how to cope at mychildcontact.com with our in residence expert

Kenn Griffiths.

Life's lessons come at a cost and believe me mine have proved to be very expensive over the years. It's because of this life long learning and my work as a child contact and access consultant that I am now in a position to use my experience and knowledge to offer support to anyone experiencing emotional difficulties.

Losing contact with your children, or the thought of it, can have the effect of bringing you down and testing your confidence and self-esteem. But it does not have to be a negative…

• View change as a start, not an ending.
• Use the experience to learn from.
• Use it to build confidence, not destroy it!

What's gone on in the past can't be changed. You may feel regret or disappointment and given the same situation again you would probably do it all differently. But, accept that you are not going to be given the same set of circumstances again. You may be given some similar experiences, but what's gone, is gone and can't be re-lived. Accept this now! Don't keep torturing yourself. Going over the past events in your mind will not change the outcome so learn from it and move yourself forward. By all means use it to enhance you, to develop a 'better' you if that's what you want but don't dwell in the hurt.

In my work I am often instructed to carry out a parenting assessment and report my findings to the Court. This is usual in child contact disputes. One parent brings allegations against the other in an effort to demonstrate that the accused is an unfit parent and should not be trusted with the care of children. A person's self-esteem is often a window into the current ability of a parent to offer unconditional love and support to their children. Low self-esteem is an indicator to a parent's low opinion of themselves. If a parent does not believe that they have any worth they can internalise this and view themselves as a failure. Add to this the trauma of separation, divorce and the possible loss of their children and you can see how they could struggle with the day to day difficulties of being a parent.

Positive parenting is not easy even when everything is going well. Children need a lot of care, love and understanding. They quickly pick up on adult's moods, and even when very young, they learn how to alter their position to 'accommodate' their parent's difficulties.

Keeping yourself positive and 'up-beat' has a settling effect on the children. You owe it to yourself and them to take care of yourself and to have a positive outlook.

DEALING WITH UNRESOLVED ISSUES.

All of us at some time or other have had times in our lives when we have not dealt with some difficulty that has arisen. By dealing with it I mean that we have not addressed it emotionally. It has been left unresolved and every now and then it comes to the forefront and evokes a negative emotional response, a inner hurt. For some people there are many of these unresolved issues that sap emotional energy and have the effect of stopping them moving on, effectively keeping them a prisoner with them as the gaoler.

The starting point to change is this: YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE PAST, what's gone is gone, you now have to live with the effects. What you can change is the perception you have about the past and it's effects. If you only view it as a negative it will cause a negative in you. But if you can use the experience, no matter how bad, in a positive way then you move yourself from negative to positive. Using life's difficulties positively means using the experience to make you a better person. A person that you can live with, a person that you like! No matter what the problem you will not be able to move forward effectively without ridding yourself of your self imposed gaol. That place that you keep yourself in, the place that stops you from enjoying your future.

Try this, imagine that you have a magic wand, and when you wave it your unresolved problem is now resolved. Ask yourself, "what would my life look like if I resolved this problem". Well, what does it look like? How do you think you would feel? What would you do now you have rid yourself of the burden? Would other people know something was different about you? How would they know? What would you do that signalled to them that you were different?

In reality you can not remove the past but you can resolve your issues about it by dealing with you!

Now try this.

Let's say that your issue is absolutely unresolved, it has never been viewed in any form of positive light and you can not live with it. On a scale of 0 to 10 this is ZERO. Now at the other end of the scale you have dealt with it in a positive way. This doesn't mean that it never happened. It has, and you can't remove the past. However, 10 is 'resolved', you can live with it and you have changed the experience from a negative to positive, you've used it to help you grow.

Now decide where on the scale you are. Let's say you are living with the effects, but you do reflect on the issue regularly and it depresses you. The fact that you can think about it moves you from Zero. So you are not there. You have not moved through it so you are not at 10. You are however, wanting to resolve it and work through it. Sometimes you feel a little positive but not for long. You're probably at 4. Moving forward, what would you have to do to get to 4.5 or even 5? It could be something very simple like telling yourself that you are going to deal with it eventually or simply accepting in yourself that you can not change the past. Whatever it is, is entirely up to you. You know what is needed. No one else has your experience and no one understands you better than you. So when you look to resolve issues you resolve them for you not someone else. Only you know what your preferred outcome should be.

• Don't become a prisoner of your past
• Unresolved issues are your gaol
• Turn your negatives to positives
• Let go of your past, you can't change it
• Don't suppress problems, deal with them
• Dealing with problems gives you experience so that future problems are dealt with more easily

Exercise:

Clarifying Preferred Outcomes.

If you are playing a tune on a trumpet that no one knows how can they join in?
This exercise is to help you to define what is realistic and can be resolved, bringing your from a no tune to a tune everyone knows and can join you in.

Let us say that your problem is that you become angry when you are trying to sort out the children's contact with their other parent. You would like to be able to handle your anger better and talk about the contact without it becoming a volatile situation. Now make a list briefly describing the problem as you see it and what needs to change.

Next ask yourself how you will know when the problem you are facing is no longer a problem. Then write down your preferred outcome. Be specific using positive language in your writing.

Example: I will know that I am handling my anger better when I am able to talk to the other parent without anger driving my responses.

Use your notes to help you define what your preferred outcome looks like and to give you the direction to move forward.

If you are struggling with any issues and need to talk about them why not take advantage of the mychildcontact.com expert's page:

Copyright 2010 Kenn Griffiths, All Rights Reserved.

Author Infromation:
Kenn Griffiths

Kenn Griffiths is a writer and founder of the internationally acclaimed website http://www.mychildcontact.com
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