What if there was a place where everybody who wants to be a more positive and focused parent could meet, no matter what kind of family they are in or what they are going through?
Parenting is often tough, but parenting before, during and after a separation can take the challenges to a whole new level. So here at the coaching company ParentingSuccess we have started running special support groups for separated Mums and Dads, in collaboration with Emma Newman of Stowe Family Law.
The sessions are carefully designed for parents, to help them learn to control what they can control and to let go of the rest, whilst also encouraging them to have clear, fair and productive communications with their ex –to keep things clear and be fair to the children too. The sessions are an opportunity for parents to meet like-minded Mums and Dads, equally determined to do what’s best for their children, while also being a forum for them to learn and support each other.
Here are some of the themes we regularly explore:
- No place for hate: It is very important for us that the sessions are kept positive and are not a place to ‘slate’ the ex, as this will not be helpful for anybody. So we make sure we manage the group well, even though we do understand that parents need a place to ‘offload’ any challenges. Throughout our sessions we always make sure that we keep things focused on how we can move forward in a constructive and positive way!
- Controlling yourself: We work from the principle that we can only control ourselves, our behaviour, feelings, actions and words – and we should not try to control anybody else! We support parents to move away from, ‘I want my ex to…’ to staying ‘clean’ in what they say and do by controlling strong feelings and emotions. If it is outside their control, ditch it as it will only cause more worries and problems. We want to be able to say ‘yes, I did the right thing and for that I am a great role model for my kids’. We want them to be able to say ‘I am proud that I stayed clean’.
Challenges become topics. Each session has a focused topic based on the main challenges that parents bring to us. Examples of these include:
- Supporting your child before, during and after separation: In this session we support parents with strategies that will help their children stay strong and positive and come out the other side with as little negative impact as possible. We talk about staying connected, but also the importance of fair and clear boundaries and not spoiling them!
- Communication with the co-parent: The relationship has changed and will never be the same again – but in this session we help Mums and Dads to develop a ‘new’, more business-like relationships. Their job is still to raise their children: now separated but still working together! We talk about how to communicate well to support your children and reduce any negative effects on them: h ow to agree, meet in the middle and move forward in an effective and positive way.
- Talking about the “D word”:: It can be really hard to tell the children that Mum and Dad are separating, without causing them to feel guilt, anger or confusion. Here we explore words to use and equally NOT to use. What to say but also what not to say. It is not only about communication at the beginning of a separation; but also how to talk to a child about the situation during and after it.
- Looking after yourself and developing coping mechanisms: Separation can be hard on parents’ mental and physical health and this can affect the way they cope. So it is important to offer coping tools that they can use in order to stay fit, healthy and strong. We talk about support (good and bad), food, and exercise and how parents can develop a new ME!
- Signs that your child is not coping and what to do: Kids are good at hiding their emotions from adults. So in this session we review some signs that a child is not coping and what we can do about it. The parents are often so deep in the difficulties of their situation that they can miss these signs.
- Your new normality: Last but not least, we explore the different ways that parents can develop their ‘new’ life. It might not be how they had imagined things, and their new situation may not be particularly like the stereotypical family, but it is important that they accept what is real to THEM and create a new and positive everyday life around it.
The combination of Emma Newman and ParentingSuccess works really well. Emma is there to offer any suggestions and support on legal matters and ParentingSuccess provides parenting tools and coaching strategies.
But a huge amount of support also comes from the parents themselves! Everyone is in the same boat, so they truly understand each other and can offer real support and comfort. And it is also a safe space to talk openly without feeling judged, misunderstood or undermined.
It is a place for anybody who wants to be a more positive and focused parent, no matter what they are going through!
We are here to help you make sense of it all.
Originally from Denmark, Mette Theilmann is the founder of ParentingSuccess Coaching. She is an experienced and qualified parent & family coach. Her qualifications include a degree in social psychology; a Level 3 City & Guilds ‘Working with Parents’ Qualification; Webster Stratton Group Leader; Family Link Parent Facilitator and NLP practitioner. She is married to an Irishman and has three beautiful children, aged 16, 18 and 20. She set up ParentingSuccess Coaching in 2006 and has a passion for helping people with their parenting skills.