By Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS
Having a hard time falling asleep worrying about your kids?
How are they doing in school? Are they making healthy friends?
Am I preparing them for all that life throws at them?
Does worry about how your child is coping with the new parenting plan or worry about their safety at the other home keep you up all night and hypervigilant all day?
You are not alone. Parents worry a ton in general, however if you have experienced domestic violence or narcissistic abuse or are dealing with family court with your abuser, this is likely not an every-now-and-then issue. You are probably chronically losing sleep.
Is there anything we can do about it?
Focus on Connection
If you are dealing with family court and it truly feels like your child's safety is based on how perfect of a parent you are, I'm telling you that perfect is not real. And that this is not what is going to keep your child well.
I'm asking you to take a deep breath and trust me when I tell you that when you shift your focus from being the perfect parent to focusing on connection with your child and with yourself, you will be the best parent that you can be.
Our goal as a parent is to do what is best for our child.
The thing that will offer our child the best chance at resilience and positive relationships in the future is a secure attachment. What exactly am I talking about here?
A secure attachment is formed when a caregiver meets the needs of their child a large percentage of the time, like 80-85%. It is not realistic to meet their needs 100% of the time...not possible. I'm talking about physical needs, nourishment, emotional needs, etc.
This happens when our infant cries, we go to them and investigate what might be wrong (remember the importance of curiosity as you parent), and then we fix the issue. Oh, a dirty diaper...let's change that. You're having a hard time soothing yourself, I'll rock you. This continues as they grow older. They fall on the playground, you are available to get a band-aid and soothe them. They are nervous about swimming lessons and you are right there cheering them on and showing them you know they are capable. They do something naughty, you help them manage the emotions of the natural consequences that occur.
Basically, you give them a safe place to fall.
Focus on Connecting with Yourself
As you go through the hell of post-separation abuse and the journey healing from relationship abuse, this can seem overwhelming. So, I am going to ask you to also connect with yourself. Be curious about what is going on for you; physically and mentally. Take a moment or two or three and be mindful of what is in the present. Do you notice some tension in your shoulders? Do you need to stretch? Maybe a walk outside to the mailbox to take in a breath of fresh air and get some vitamin D. This does not take hours, just a moment several times a day. As you connect with yourself, you will be more able to connect with your little person.
Remember, when you are with your children, you get to be human. When you can't be human anywhere else, you get to be human with them. And your humanness will allow that connection and attachment to feel safe and secure.
Wow, what would that feel like to allow yourself to be human?
So, as you go through the ups and downs of healing from domestic violence or narcissistic abuse and the ongoing trauma of family court with an abusive ex, remember that you have so many things you need to help your child. Starting with connection will pave the way for their resilience and yours.
Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse.