Divorce and separation; two issues we don’t like to think about. After all, isn’t it something that happens to other people? But with 43% of all marriages ending in divorce alone, many parents and children are living with the effects and challenges that divorce and separation bring. How therefore do we help our children through these struggles in a conscious, supportive and loving manner?
In August 2014, my now ex-husband and I separated, after 19 years. Our relationship had been dying for a number of years but like so many I wasn’t brave enough to end it. There were two main reasons for this: my husband’s intermittent mental health issues and our two children. Was it fair to withdraw my husband’s main source of support and was it fair to change the lives of my children so completely and so finally? After endless months of deliberation and heartache, and with much trepidation I decided the answers were ‘Yes’.
It hasn’t been an easy ride; understandably and expectedly my eight year old daughter experienced emotions that she didn’t know how to process. She found herself struggling to vocalise what she was feeling and even when she was able to say that she was unhappy or angry she was unable to say why. Imagine a toddler tantrum being played out by an eight year old and lasting up to 30 minutes at a time. Every time I went near her she would scream louder. There was no talking to, or reasoning with her and yet ignoring her went against every instinct I had. The following morning she was unable to explain what had happened or why.
I needed a plan. I needed to be able to find the tools my daughter could use to help her whenever she faced a challenge. I turned to what I know best: using complementary methods to heal emotional issues. What I didn’t anticipate was the profound effect this would have on my daughter. Her moods improved, she started talking about what the problems were, she slept better and she was able to channel her emotions in a healthy way. It also had a profound impact upon my emotional well-being.
The steps below outline the programme that my daughter and I created and followed for six weeks last year. It’s flexible, fun and provides parents with confidence and reassurance that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you are a loving, competent person who can handle it. Each week outlined below builds upon the previous one and you can do the activities as frequently as you wish.
Life Changing Amations
When you are in a challenging situation it can be too easy to focus upon the negative. I asked myself why I was focusing upon how challenging my daughter’s behaviour had become and blaming myself. I had to face the reality that if I continued to think about and focus upon a life in which my relationship with my daughter was strained because of her behaviour and my subsequent reaction to it, that is what I would continue to experience.
To change our experiences and perception of life we have to change our words and thoughts to create something new and positive. Affirmations are a great tool to use to achieve this. In the words of Louise Hay “Think happy thoughts…The way you chose to think, right now, is just that – a choice”. So I chose to think a different thought. The affirmation of Hay’s that I chose was ‘Life brings me only good experiences. I am open to new and wonderful changes’. This affirmation became my mantra; I repeated it to myself throughout the day whilst visualising a healthy and loving relationship with my daughter.
This week, choose an affirmation to use as you visualise your ideal outcome for you and your child. Affirm and visualise a couple of times per day wherever possible.
Energetically Cleansing your Child’s Room
Every emotion we experience, whether it be happy, sad, angry or joyful, affects the energy of the places we go to or spend time in. Your child’s bedroom will benefit from a touch of energetic cleansing and this can be achieved by using one of the methods below:
- Burning incense or essential oils in your child’s bedroom (and yours too). Good ones to use are sandalwood or lavender.
- Open the window wide to let the fresh air in – perhaps one of the simplest methods but still very effective.
Create a Crystal Grid in your Child’s Bed
The purpose of creating a crystal grid is to harness an energetic vibration around your child that will comfort, support and soothe them whilst they are resting. For this step you will need 4 pieces of tumbled amethyst and 1 piece of tumbled blue lace agate.
- Set your intention. Decide what you want to achieve by creating the grid for your child, being as specific as possible and phrasing it in a positive way. The intention that I set for my daughter was “May these crystals soothe, comfort and support my daughter in all ways that are for her highest good”. Say this intention in your head or out loud before you lay out your crystal grid.
- On top of your child’s mattress, under a securely fitted sheet place 1 amethyst crystal in each corner of the mattress and 1 blue lace agate crystal in the centre of the mattress.
Children have a natural affinity with crystals which is great news as these gifts from Mother Nature help us heal a multitude of issues. Below are a number of useful crystals to address common concerns children experience following separation or divorce:
- Anger – Blue Lace Agate
- Fear – Pink Calcite (Mangano Calcite)
- Anxiety & Worry – Kunzite
- Denial – Rhodochrosite
- Adandonment – Sunstone
- Depression – Green Moss Agate
- Blame & Guilt – Chrysocolla
Once you and your child have chosen your crystal let your child decide how they would like to use it. Options will depend upon your child’s age but could include keeping it in their pocket, having it in a water bottle or sleeping with it under their pillow.
Meditation helps children soothe their anxieties and worries, brings peace and helps them to find balance. The trick is to start off short and simple and build up. Experts often recommend that you start with one minute of meditation per year of age but only do as much as your child wants.
Make sure that you and your child are comfortable.
- Ask them to close their eyes gently. If they don’t want to do this don’t worry about it (give them something to look at and focus upon instead).
- Ask your child to notice their breathing. Ask them to place their hands on their stomach and notice the rise and fall of their body.
- Sit or lay quietly together for your decided amount of time. My daughter initially struggled with this and could not stay focused. As a result she chose crystals to use during meditation. Once she had chosen them she placed one in each hand and every time her attention drifted she focused upon the crystals in her hand. As she breathed in she would say to herself “I am peaceful” and as she exhaled she would say to herself “I am calm”.
- After you have finished your meditation sit together and if your child wishes, talk about how they found it and if there is anything that they would like to share.
Self Love for Parents
Let’s now turn our attention to loving ourselves and the precious role we play as parents. It’s said that loving yourself is the only thing that can truly solve any problem that you may face in life. When you start to love yourself you feel better, and then everything in your life will start to feel and look better to you. Self-love, how we feel about ourselves, and how we treat ourselves, affects every relationship that we have. Our capacity to love ourselves is a barometer for how much we are able to love others and how much we allow them to love us. This is what makes self-love so essential and it is why I made a promise to myself. I decided to refuse to be critical of myself, to forgive myself for anything that I felt I had or hadn’t done correctly and to take better care of myself both mentally and physically.
Yoga for Children
Ask any yoga devotee why they do yoga and they’ll give you a variety of different reasons but ones that you will hear time and time again are for stress relief, because it helps them to relax, unwind, feel peaceful, grounded or balanced. It’s no different for our children. In a world where parents are often hurrying them, there are pressures at school, they use technology on a daily basis and for ever increasing amounts of time, the amount of joy and relaxation that they experience can unfortunately be limited. After practising yoga with both my children I learnt some lessons which I’ve translated into my top 3 tips:
- Let go and let it be - have no agenda and no expectations of what yoga with children will be like / should be like. Don’t worry if they lose focus or get distracted, just gently guide them back to the activity when the time is right.
- Choose an age appropriate class that your child will enjoy; the format of which doesn’t matter - in an ideal world we’d all attend classes run by our local yoga teacher, but life’s not always like that. You may instead wish to use a DVD or book. Finding something that is age appropriate is really important. Start easy and build up gradually.
- Be consistent - remember to do your yoga practice at least two times per week; more if you are able to. Think of yoga as a journey rather than a destination. Teach your children that consistent practice is the way forward as this will lead to tangible results that they can both see and feel.
There are many lessons which we can show our children to help them deal with the ups and downs of life and for me gratitude is one of the most valuable we can pass on. Gratitude, as simple and free as it is to practice, is now being proven by research to increase our happiness, our self-love and our health and well being in general.
Start a Gratitude Journal. Every night before bedtime my two children and I sit together and taking turns we share three things that we are grateful for. For very young children simplify it by asking for three good things that have happened that day. The aim is to start fostering an appreciation for things that are present in their life.
Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)
Tapping works on the meridians (energy lines) of the body in a similar manner to acupressure or acupuncture, only with Tapping you are using your fingertips to tap rather than applying pressure or inserting needles. By doing this any energetic disruptions in your body or aura are cleared and as a result a plethora of emotional, physical and spiritual concerns can be resolved. The Tapping sequence is easy to learn – find resources below. The results that my daughter experienced with tapping were very fast and very effective at getting to the heart of the matter and then resolving the issues that came up for her.
Divorce and separation and the challenges that they bring do not have to be insurmountable. I hope that this programme will be as beneficial for you and your child as it has been for us. My daughter transformed from being extremely upset and frustrated to a much calmer and patient person with an appreciation of crystals, meditation, Tapping and yoga. Most importantly she now has the ability to speak about things that are troubling her. The benefits I have experienced have been life changing. I started seeing life in a more positive and supportive way – for me this was evidence that how you think and speak, and subsequently how you feel alters your world and the experiences you have. I also developed an understanding of how loving yourself changes your response to situations. I became less reactive and more understanding. Things no longer feel personal and it is far easier to remove myself from the drama that I often find myself surrounded by. This not only relates to parenting but to life in general.
If you are going through separation or divorce and you feel that yourself and your child would benefit from some additional support, this 6 week programme may just provide the support that you are looking for.
LEARN The Tapping sequence at sarahelizabethtodd.co.uk.