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Parenting with Grainne Ryan-Life Changing Situations

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Moving home, new school, or mum and dad splitting up-these can be a child's worst nightmare-Grainne Ryan is here to help

Life doesn't always run smoothly. Every family is going to find itself with a spanner in the works some time. Now more than ever the recession is causing people to lose their jobs, downsize their home and move to a new area, or even split up. Often what happens is out of our control. When the unexpected happens, how do you cope with it? How do you guide your children through difficult times?

Today Grainne Ryan is here to talk about how to help your children cope with life changing situations.

Grainne Ryan:
Presenter of Baby on Board Series 2. Grainne is a public health nurse and midwife and mother of three children. Areas of interest child development, parenting issues, adolescent development and post natal depression and works as a public health nurse in Ennis Co. Clare.

At times of crisis, your children will look to you more than ever. It can be trying when you are pushed to the limit yourself to give them the support and the nurturing they need.

Pulling together to get through the hard times often makes families stronger in the long run. Parents often beat themselves up years after an event took place that was completely out of their control. But even when parents can identify the issues they should have dealt with better, blame and guilt don't solve the problem in hand. We all make mistakes. We're human. How we deal with the situation at hand is more important than dwelling on the past, refusing to let go. Mistakes are not mistakes if you learn from them.

Moving Home
. Be positive about the move (even if you have reservations) children will pick up on this. Children look to their parents in these kinds of situations and if you approach the move with some reluctance, they're going to pick up on that tool.
. Don't keep it under wraps for too long (children will know)
. Before you tell them the news sit down with your partner and discuss how you are going to approach this
. Stress the positive sides of the changes, advantages of the new location, activities, find out as much about local information, schools
. Tell them it will be an exciting new experience for the whole family. Be reassuring and confident. Your not selling them an idea its fact and its nonnegotiable.
. Change is unsettling for many children and some more than others. But coping with change is an important life skill.
. Don't force the issue but be on hand when they want to talk things over
. Point that their old friends can stay and that there are lots of ways they can still stay in touch.
. When you move get involved in the community. Some families react to a major move by isolating themselves in their family unit which sends out messages to the children that the new location is threatening

Moving School:
Some tips to ease the transition
. If possible bring your child to his new school and introduce him to his new teacher and class before year end. This help to reduce anxiety levels about new surroundings.
. Allow your child to keep in contact with his old pals arrange for them to visit each other, take them places together like park, pictures or to sports events which they like.
. Talk to your child about all the exciting things he will be doing. Many preschools/ schools have open days, if that's not the case you can always ask to bring your child in and have a look around.
. Play dates with children you know will be starting school with them is a good idea.
. Get your child involved in Summer Camps, Sports in the new area in an effort to make pals prior to start of school in September.

When you have reached a point of no return in your marriage remember you are still MUM and DAD to your children. These roles are for life. Its not so much the separation itself that damages children, it's the way their parents go on to deal with subsequent issues like sharing the responsibility for their kids.
When a marriage gets into difficulty, either you should resolve your difference, forgive, and move on, or take the decision to part. Drawn out conflict is what does the most harm to children.
When you have reached the decision what you must do as soon as possible is to tell your children what is happening. They probably have picked up on the stress and tension. Sit down together as a family and give the facts.
. Tell them that you are still their parents and that you still love them the same.
. Assure them that's its not their fault. Many children especially small children think that they've done something wrong when parents split up, especially if they have been used as a weapon in their parents' battle or if they have overheard conversations in which their names have been bandied about.
. Establish ground rules about how you will behave in front of the children.
. Don't argue or fight in front of them
. Don't break down in front of them
. Be respectful and polite to one another
. Repeated conflict is very damaging for children.
. Discuss financial/living arrangement out of children's earshot
. Listen to your children, lots of different emotions sadness, anger, fear, shame guilt and confusion
General Advice for Times of Crisis:
. Explain to them what is going on in simple terms.Silence just encourages kids to fill in the gaps. You may think you are sparing your children but their little minds may go into overdrive.
. Keep your adult conversations for neutral ground out of their ear shot.
. Try to stick to your routine as much as possible to keep your family framework in place.
. Don't load your children with information or unnecessary facts that are not relevant to them.

How to look after yourself:
What you will need to do as a parent is to get whatever support for yourself as is necessary, so you can work through testing times to the best of your ability.
This may come in the form of help groups, help lines, messageboards, doctors, public health nurse, family and friends. What really is important is that you realise that there is no need to struggle on alone. It's not a sign of weakness or failure to put your hand up and ask for help. When you are dealing with a crisis, its not just time management that you need to put in place, its energy management. The right support can help to put something back in the bank so that you can carry on.