Christine Kutzner M.Ed., RCC - Counselling Services

Parenting Matters Printable PDF version

Volume 27, September 2010

We are full on into the Fall season, with Halloween just ending and where some parents are looking forward to the Remembrance Day long weekend, to stay inside, keep warm, and play board games with your children! Remember Moms and Dads to look after yourself if you suffer from Seasonal Effective Disorder! It’s quite common here in BC and our poor mood and poor sleeping patterns affect not only you, but your children as well.

I presented at the West Van Community Centre last week to a lovely audience of parents on How to be an Intentional Parent. I enjoyed the experience and the questions from the audience.

In the last newsletter, I wrote on Co-Parenting through a Separation and Divorce - Part 1. Volume 27 will focus on child concerns and parental coping strategies. I want to focus on sharing with you some ways to parent a difficult child. To head off this series, I will start with describing temperament.

Co-Parenting through Separation and Divorce - Part 2

Children and parents go through significant changes as a result of separation and divorce. All family members need to find a healthy way to deal with the losses in a family break up. In my experience in counseling families, I have found that children of all ages feel shock, anger and sadness. Finding positive coping strategies for children and parents will help in adjusting to creating a new family life.

Conflict often arises in the area of co-parenting. At the heart are values, attitudes towards parenting, schedules, new partners, school issues and extra-curricular activities, and especially the bitterness that can exist between partners who have split. The conflict children feel often comes from being “caught in the middle” of their parent’s conflictual relationship. Research shows that children who feel caught in loyalty issues between their parents experience longer lasting effects from the separation. For example:

  • Loss of concentration and attention
  • Poor grades and behavioural issues at school
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Anger at one or both parents
  • Delinquency
  • Emotional issues
  • Less self-confidence and general vulnerability

To help their children overcome this burden, parents need to deal with the break up respectfully. Failing this, parents need to be sensitive to the fact that their child will continue to maintain a relationship in most cases, and stop speaking negatively about their ex-spouse. Focus on spending one to one time with each child to help them feel connected during this time of change. Make sure your adult worries (finances, loneliness, legal issues) do not become the burden of your children. Stay organized with your children’s schedules so that one or both parents attend games/activities. Tell your child’s teacher about what is happening in the family so they too can be sensitive to the needs of your child. If necessary, have your child/children meet with a counselor for support and grief work.

The adults separating will be on an emotional roller coaster for a while. The adults will need to accept the loss of this relationship and family as it once was. It will mean accepting your co-parenting relationship for what it is and what it is not. In the short-term it’s important to reduce your stress by setting priorities and handle one thing at a time. Find a way to nurture yourself or relax a little each day.

It’s important to begin building long-term relationships that can be a support over the years as the divorce settles and families re-establish themselves. For example, find an objective support person such as a counselor, minister, life coach, a 12-step group, financial planner or a mediator. Use community supports such as book and resources, groups for single and divorced parents, or attend public forums. Remember to expand or create a new hobby or interest for yourself. It’s important to bring more fun into one’s life! Self-care also includes letting go of the past to be more open to future opportunities. Remember during times of stress to give yourself permission not to be perfect! Help yourself grow and develop new skills and always reach out to family and friends for more support when needed.

Christine Kutzner Counselling Services 604-339-5774

Christine Kutzner, M.Ed. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor providing services to children, parents and families in North and West Vancouver. To inquire, contact Christine.

Copyright Christine Kutzner, 2010. All rights reserved.


Christine provides counselling services to children, parents, and
families in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.

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