What do you do if you can’t see your child during the holidays, their birthday, or other special events? How do you even reach out to them? Can you connect to your child if they have rejected your attempts for contact?
Most people can’t imagine that children would actually reject a parent. The holidays and other special occasions highlight the loss of a relationship. When it’s with your own child, however, it’s excruciating. Parents don’t picture losing their relationship with their children when they hold their babies in their arms. Instead, parents typically think about what their children will be when they grow up. Suddenly, all those visions of your child’s future stop when you can no longer see them. It does hurt not to have a connection with your child.
Okay, so you can’t see your child; what can you do to get through this time in your life? The following are some suggestions that may be helpful for you to feel connected.
Keeping the Connection
For any parent who has lost the connection with their child, you can keep it going in spirit and continue to reach out. Who knows, maybe one of those times you reach out will be the one that helps them to open up to the idea of reconnecting with you.
Here are Some Ideas You Might Want to Try:
Send Handwritten Letters as Opposed to Texts or Emails
Sometimes it’s easier not to look at an email, but a personal note may tap into their curiosity. Keep it brief and positive. You can reminisce about one of your favorite moments and describe the feeling of that moment.
For instance, talking about when you built a birdhouse together or made a special dish in the kitchen is cheerful. When you bring these moments up, include a word picture of how special it was for you and what you remember. If you have one, include a copy of the photo. Just in case they throw it away or don’t read it, keep a copy of everything you sent them for the future. Then, you might have an opportunity to give it to them again when they are more open to contact.
Continue to Send Gifts on Holidays and Birthdays, etc.
I have met children as adults who said this made a difference. Even though they did not want to see their parents, some appreciated this later. Take pictures of the gifts and create a memory album of all the things you did to reach out, so someday when they come back, you can show them you always remembered and loved them. It could also indicate that you acknowledged these special days by reaching out to them.
Coping with the Loss
This period in your life may be a good time to seek support for yourself. Not having your child in your life is a loss. Even if it’s temporary, and someday your parent-child relationship could be re-established, you are grieving now through a high-conflict divorce.
Taking care of yourself during this time is essential for your mental health. There are different types of feelings people have surrounding custody disputes, as well. You may have recently broken up, or it may have been months or years. People find that they will grieve their:
- Previous lifestyle
- Friendships that get lost due to a split relationship
- Sense of community, if moving, with neighbors, extended family, etc.
- Old routines while having to start new routines to adjust to this new way of life
You may be feeling many feelings during this time. It’s important to embrace all of our emotions and recognize they are valid. We may even have multiple feelings that bubble up all at once. When we reject feelings, we get stuck. Embrace them all, and don’t be afraid to seek a therapist to help you cope with this moment.
Self-Care During a High Conflict Divorce
Parents sometimes feel guilty when they have to “move on” without their children. Usually, parents don’t choose to be cut off from their children. It is out of their control. When children reject a parent, parents need to continue to live their lives and honor their own needs. It’s not easy to figure out how to live without having children in their lives while in the middle of a high-conflict court case.
If you are going through a high-conflict custody dispute or divorce, it’s time to take care of yourself as much as possible while going through this ordeal with your family.
Examples of Self-care During a High Conflict Divorce Include:
- Exercising is a way to help reduce stress and has many benefits. For example, if medically possible, walking 30 minutes several days a week can help to reduce your stress.
- Meditating has been shown to help calm the brain and promote stress recovery. Many apps for your phone provide guided meditation, calming music, and visuals to help calm your brain.
- Journaling before bed, as a way to release racing thoughts, can help relieve stress. Try to list three things you are grateful for that day.
- Doing Yoga can be a powerful tool to calm our nervous systems. You don’t need to be advanced, either. There are beginner levels of yoga that give your body a gentle stretch and allow it to release the tension that’s trapped.
- Building up your Community is integral to coping during a custody dispute or divorce. Think of re-establishing old friendships for support or joining a club or organization that promotes healthy social interactions.
- Trying something new, such as something you never had a chance to: a sport like tennis, an instrument, dancing or singing, adult school, or developing new skills.
- Improving your Nutrition by eating healthy, wholesome foods. Good eating habits impact mood, energy levels, & ability to think clearly.
- Getting a good night’s sleep; we need enough time for repair. Take naps when you can, and be easy on yourself. A 10 to 20-minute power nap in the middle of the day can help boost your mood.
- Surrounding yourself with Nature by going to the beach, listening to the waves, or going for a hike in the hills.
Remember, Your Self-care is Critical During this Time
With all this stress going on in your life, it’s essential to focus on self-care. Learning to care for yourself during a high-conflict divorce and other stressful moments will hopefully increase your ability to feel joy. In addition, being in a healthy mental state will make it easier for you to be a positive force in reconnecting with your child in the future. Your children need you to take care of yourself, so you can be there for them emotionally when they are ready.
Begin A High Conflict Parenting Class in San Diego, CA
Our therapists can help you navigate high-conflict court disputes this holiday season. We would be happy to offer support from our San Diego, CA-based practice and across the state. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
- Request an appointment by completing our form online or calling (858) 776-8804
- Meet with a therapist from our team
- Start improving your mental state!
Other Services Offered With Family Connections Therapy
Our team understands you may deal with a variety of mental health concerns. We offer many options to support your mental health, including children’s therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, and reunification therapy. We offer services in person as well as online for your convenience. Some of our specialties include but are not limited to therapy for ADHD, LGBTQIA+, and depression, and our therapists are well-versed in play therapy as well as therapy for attachment and healthy development. Reach out now to learn more about our counseling services or visit our blog today!