All too often, when a couple with children separate, the focus is on how those parents can work together to continue in their parenting roles for the benefit of the children. In mediation, we explore this carefully and I help couples find a way to communicate and work through their differences to be able to focus on the most important thing to them – their children.
The hope is always that both parents will continue to be able to play a part in their children’s lives. We often assume that this will always be possible and something everyone must strive for. However, sometimes, one parent walks away from their children. Occasionally there is so much conflict and aggression that it is not possible to find an immediate way forward. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stuck.
What we don’t often touch upon is how parenting alone after the trauma of family breakdown can leave you feeling overwhelmed, loney and stuck. I was pleased to come across this book written by leadership coach to lone parents Nina Farr. She not only suggrests that it is possible to work through a plan b and find good out of the situation but goes so far as to say that parenting your children by yourself can be wonderful. A snippet of her promise is:-
‘If you’re reading this book, it’s a safe bet that you’re feeling overwhelmed, unhappy and quite possibly afraid of the next decade in your life. Being a lone parent of children who have experienced a traumatic family breakdown wasn’t part of your life plan. In fact, if you even had a life plan, it went up in smoke a while ago.
Right now, it probably feels like you’re standing in the trenches, battling to survive each day as a lone parent. Life may seem like one long fight against the feeling that you’ll never manage all of this chaos on your own. Taking a peek over the top of that trench to figure out what’s on the horizon may just feel too risky to attempt today. Even though you desperately want things to change, it feels like there’s safety in sticking to what you know.
If getting through the day with no greater ambition than closing your eyes at night knowing that ‘everyone’s fed, nobody’s dead’ sounds familiar. If you’re sick of crying with frustration because it all feels do damn unfair. If you’re aching for the joy, love and freedom to enjoy parenthood that you once assumed would be yours – take heart.’
This book takes you through the journey of parenting alone in a way where you really feel that it speaks to you, that the author is in the room with you, that she understands through her own experience of parenting alone the emotions you are experiencing and it really does give you tools to find a way forward.
If you need help navigating your way forward, all you need to do is reach out. We need to talk more about the loneliness of parenthood, particularly after a family breakdown. It is ok to feel trapped and isolated but it is essential to get help so that you can find your way forward. As Nina quite rightly says, ‘you will ultimately realise that you are the perfect person to parent your children, just as you are, just as they are.’
I wish you strength in your journey forward.
With thanks to Nina Farr for gifting me a copy of her book ‘I am the parent who stayed – joyfully parenting alone.’