Parenting in the war zone of parental alienation is a devastating experience. When we aren’t questioning our own sanity, we are fending off underhanded attacks on our character. After mustering up what it takes to put food on the table, to manage activities and to launder clothes, we may still fight an uphill battle against the anger our kids take out on us because it has nowhere else to go.
But we must keep going, and we must make it. We owe it to ourselves and to our children. So for the inaugural issue of Parent Survival Guide, we published eleven coping tactics that have helped parents just like you. Here is one we've found to be particularly helpful.
We know that children thrive with structure and rhythm. However, how the heck are we supposed to do that when adjusting to their ever-changing needs often takes all we’ve got; when our ex always has us on the back foot; when they may withhold the kids even if we could afford to book an amazing annual ski trip?
My answer: simple rituals are better than none. We sit down for one meal a day together even if it is take-away. Every night, I sit with each child, even if for one minute, and they expect to recite a bedtime prayer they learned as toddlers and say what they are grateful for: focusing on gratitude actually apparently changes how we see the world.
Having these rituals gives both me and the children something to fall back on regardless of how tumultuous the day might have been, ensuring that we close it out in a positive way and as a family.
Every time the children are home, we have a family meeting on the last morning. Most last under 20 minutes and we have a consistent formula: what worked really well for us this time; what didn’t; what do we want to focus on next time. Importantly, I can’t play the parent card during the meetings: we all have equal voice. It helps me to demonstrate that alongside them, I am committed to creating the family we want to be, despite our challenges. And I am often amazed at their insights and willingness to try new things. The meetings are becoming a safe space and a mechanism we can all count on, to make our family time work better for everyone.
Read Parent Survival Guide for more tactics that help parents just like you parent your children despite an alienating ex.