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The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

Emotional Support

It is not uncommon for separation and divorce to be a life shattering experience, so if you feel that way, you are not alone. Everything that you care about, including the relationship with your children, your financial status, your ability to function at work and your health can be put at risk through prolonged proceedings.

Try to think of ways to help yourself continue to be able to function under these extremely difficult circumstances. Try to do things that you know are good for you and stay healthy. This will help your children, because they need you to be well. If you feel sad and angry, which is totally normal, try to find ways to deal with this. Find people you can talk to or ways to express your anger and sadness. Maybe going to the gym will help, but do whatever will help you.

One of the most important things to realise is that we are here for you. We have a helpline which you can call  on 0300 0330 363 (9am - 10pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends), and we have branch meetings across the country.

For online support you can sign up to FNF's online forum, open to our members. You can share your story, hear others and receive support and advice from our other members. For more information about the online forum and the many other benefits of FNF membership please click here.

You can also access DSG's local counselling support groups, provided by trained psychotherapists, on 0844 800 9098 www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk.

If there is something you don’t understand please call the National Helpline on 0300 0300 363.

We are keen to hear from you about how you cope, which might help others in the future. If you would like to add to this page, if you have found a website of real help, or you have read a book which you would like others to enjoy, please e-mail admin@fnf.org.uk.

Health and mental well-being

Anxiety and low mood

Anxiety and low mood are common after family breakups. This is distressing but normal and will settle with adjusting to the new situation. Having said that, times of divorce or separation are bound to have an impact on your emotional and mental well-being.
In order for you to keep on going and because your children need you to be there for them, do find a source of help, sooner rather than later.

The first port of call is your GP. They will be able to offer you support with regards to the emotional impact of separation and divorce. They can make an assessment if you require a referral for counselling or to the well-being team. They may also advise taking a course of medication should this be required.

Do try to find understanding sources of support - family, friends or other people within FNF, who will help you through the journey ahead. If you require professional support it is important that you get it. Professionals are obliged to maintain confidentiality in a way that other people might not.

“After I split up with my girlfriend, I felt jittery and I suffered with a lack of confidence”
“I was isolated and I couldn’t sleep”

If you are feeling anxious or low your GP can help, or click here for NHS Direct.

Feeling anxious?

Suggested links:


 www.livinglifetothefull.com
 http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anxiety/Pages/Introduction.aspx
 http://www.sane.org.uk/AboutMentalIllness/Anxiety
http://www.hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk/articles/anxiety.html

Feeling low?

Suggested links:


http://www.separatedfamilies.info/families/about-you/taking-good-care-of-yourself/
http://www.mind.org.uk/
http://samaritans.org.uk/
www.counselling-directory.org.uk - the purpose of the site is ultimately to provide the UK with a huge counselling support network, enabling those in distress to find a counsellor close to them and appropriate for their needs. This is a free, confidential service that will hopefully encourage those in distress to seek help.

Can't sleep?

Suggested links:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/mentalhealthproblems/sleepproblems/sleepingwell.aspx
www.menshealth.co.uk/chatroom/topic/370565

Feeling angry?

Suggested links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/mental_health/coping_angermanagement1.shtml

http://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/anger.html

end faq

Drugs & Alcohol

Looking after yourself

After a family break-up, it can be tempting to stop looking after yourself, and to turn to alcohol or drugs. But they do have negative effects.

“I started drinking bottles of wine a night”
“Cannabis was the only thing that would get me to sleep”

If you are suffering with these problems it is a good idea to go and speak to your GP.

Suggested links:

http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/?gclid=CJTY8_LthZ4CFcGAzAodOTcDqg
http://www.wikivorce.com/divorce/Support-Groups/Addictions/Drink-Aware.html

 

Keeping Fit

Eating well

Meal times can be especially painful, but it’s always important to eat well and drink a lot of water.

“Meal times are the hardest”

Easy and healthy food recipes

Suggested links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/
http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/

Keeping Fit

Try to fit some exercise into your day as this may help you too. It may be the last thing on your mind but is worth trying.

“I felt going to the gym helped, it cleared my mind”

Suggested links:


http://www.need2know.co.uk/health/keeping_fit/article.html/id=310
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/healthy_living/fitness/

 

Personal relationships

New relationships

After divorce and separation you can often feel wary of starting relationships with new people. There are no rules as to when you should or should not start a new relationship. Sometimes new relationships can have an impact on your parenting arrangements and your children might feel upset by this new development. Remember to be sensitive to the fact that children might take some time to get used to a new person in your life, but you should not feel guilty for this and try and make sure you reassure them that you love them just the same. It is crucial to spend some special parent time alone with your children.

If you are a member of FNF you can receive some good feedback from other members on our forum or through our local contact list. Other people have gone through the same situations as you – it really is good to talk.

Changing relationships

After separation and divorce your relationships with family members and friends can change. Some for the better with renewed bonds, but some relationships can be tested. Sometimes you can feel that nobody understands how bad it is. If you are feeling this way please pick up the phone to our helpline, go to a branch meeting or get on our members forum.
What you are feeling is normal, and many others have felt the same way. You may feel alone, but talking to others may reassure you that you are not alone and FNF is here to support you.

 

Time management

What can I do?

Depending on your own resilience it can sometimes take as long as a couple of years, or more, before any change starts to become your new ‘normal’.

Nevertheless, what do you do in the meantime? When we focus on personal emotional problems time has a habit of slowing down. What will be a great help is to try and put some structure into your days, even when it may not be necessary. Try planning for the next day the night before, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go to plan. Try and recognise the small achievements. The point is: at least you tried to have a structure to your day, which may help it flow more easily.

Some people find that volunteering helps bring structure to their week, to volunteer with FNF call 0300 0300 110 or e-mail admin@fnf.org.uk.

You could also contact your local CVS for more information about voluntary groups in your area.

 

Work life

Are you struggling?

Separation and divorce can also have an effect on your work, productivity and your performance can sometimes slump. Understandably, as your thoughts are else where. Some of our members have not been able to continue working, but some have thrown themselves into their work. There is no one size that fits all. Try and speak to your employer. Sometimes employers can be very understanding, they might have even gone through it themselves. Or sometimes, they are not so sympathetic. This can depend on the size of the company you work, for example. People who are self-employed often find it particularly difficult.

Try and speak to somebody if you are struggling to cope and if you can let your employer know what is going on. If you are experiencing difficulties with your employer, please get in touch with our helpline 0300 0330 363.

It might also help to read our time management section and our financial problems section.

 

Trauma

Sharing

When someone has suffered trauma of any sort, it is advisable to share these feelings with someone who is able to help. Often your doctor will have a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) attached to their practice who can help even if you don’t want anti-depressants. Many therapists or counsellors in private practice can help but it is important you check their qualifications and most importantly that you feel comfortable with them.

 

Talking to your children

Do you find it difficult to talk to your children?

It can be difficult to know what to say to your children based on their age and their own grasp of the situation. Rather than focus on talking to them you could try asking them if they have any questions they want answering. Letting them talk will give you a greater understanding of what they feel which will help you respond to their needs. Helping them cope will also help you cope. If they don’t feel comfortable asking questions, you can try “what do you think about…?” “How do you feel about?” “What would you like?”

Often children can feel anger, upset, confusion and sadness and you may struggle with how best to talk to your child or deal with their behaviour. Their feelings and needs can be expressed through their behaviour, which on the surface can just seem like they are misbehaving or being difficult. It is also worth considering that their anger may surface some years later when they approach teenage years when their body and hormones are changing and they start to develop relationships for themselves. Children can often compare their ideas of what makes a happy relationship with what they have experienced, and get angry or confused.

If you need any support call our helpline on 0300 0300 363.

 

Financial Problems

Financial support

Divorce and separation is expensive. If you have financial problems one excellent source of help is your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau: more details at http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/. It is best to communicate early with any of your creditors, in an effort to reach agreement with them about a sensible and affordable way for you to repay your debt. For further advice, see the Money Advice Service.


If you are struggling with child maintenance payments visit http://www.cmoptions.org/ or call our helpline on 0300 0300 363 or contact www.nacsa.org.uk.

If you need debt advice you could visit the website of the Debt Advice Foundation

 

Suggested Books and Organisations

You might find these helpful

Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert

Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerly

Overcoming Low Self Esteem by Melanie Fennell

The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams

The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

 

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  • New conference on #SharedParenting from #ICSP - It's in Strasbourg on Nov 22/23 https://conference.twohomes.org/Home The Fourth International Conference on Shared Parenting: Shared Parenting, Social Justice and Children´s Rights
  • A study just published concludes that over-controlling parenting harms children's development. Another reason for supporting greater involvement of fathers in the care of their children, particularly after separation? The research did not focus on separated families, but it seems likely to follow may well follow that exposing children to the diversity of two parenting styles will of itself better equip them for life. Family separation seems to also bring out more controlling behaviours, not least denying involvement in parenting by ex partners when there is not an adequate reason for this. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/18/over-controlled-toddlers-grow-up-unable-to-cope Please support FNF by following us on Facebook, liking our posts, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • Father’s Day is our opportunity to celebrate fatherhood. It is a chance for all dads to be reminded that they are loved. It is a recognition of the unique and vital role that fathers play in their children’s lives. Tragically, at Families Need Fathers, we all too often work with dads whose children will not be able to celebrate Father’s Day with them. Many will have court orders to see them that will not be obeyed. Other fathers will have no hope at all of seeing their children on Father’s Day, because they have been “awarded” indirect contact - to send them a letter a few times a year – in the hope that it reaches them. Worse still, many of their children will feel pressurised to reject their much-loved dads. Sometimes this will happen through coaching, but more often it will be because their main carers make coldly clear to these young minds their feelings towards their ex-partners. Why do they do this – could they have valid reasons? More often than not it is because they would not accept that the relationship had ended, because they started a new one of their own, because they were upset that their ex has started a new relationship or because they fear that their ex’s new partner will somehow usurp or diminish their role as a mother. Of course, these reasons are driven by adult emotions and it is harmful to burden the children with them. Children have more than enough capacity to love both their parents and extended families whether they live together or apart. Parents collaborating can do so much to help children to get over their parents' divorce or separation. It is amazing that in 2018 there are still Cafcass Family Court Advisers, judges and social workers who don’t recognise alienating behaviours or appreciate their effect – putting a child in a position of having to suppress and deny their love for their father - a love that dare not speak its name. Over the last year or two Cafcass have accepted that parental alienation is child abuse and they are beginning to develop pathways and tools for identifying it and hopefully for dealing with it too. That said the message has not reached all of them yet. Only last week we heard from an entirely reasonable, good dad whose child has been turned against him - yet neither the Family Court Adviser nor the judge showed any interest in why this might be. Incredibly, they described the father as arrogant and naive for challenging the professionals' views when they had considered the wishes of his brainwashed child. The judge’s decision was horrifying – condemning a father simply for loving their child above all else – for wanting to remain part of the child’s life. They should do better. They need to be better trained. They need to have a far better understanding of research into child psychology and the long-term impact on a child of having to keep secret or trying to destroy their own love of a parent in order to protect themselves from the fear of loss of the other parent. It is amazing that, despite alienating behaviours being recognised by Cafcass nationally and by many experienced judges there are still those who look out to the horizon and conclude that the earth is flat. ‘Professionals’ who ignore all the evidence from those who have sailed those seas. Why for example might a child phone and say "I really wanted to see you on Father's Day, but mummy said no" and then a few weeks later, having not seen him, say "I never want to see him again"? Why do some 'professionals' not exhibit curiosity as to why this child suddenly changed their mind? Of course, there are abusive men and women and a small minority will seek to hide their abuse with claims of alienation. This does not mean of course that alienation does not happen and experienced professionals can easily tell the difference. The earth is round, and no amount of denial will make it flat. Today our thoughts are with all the good dads out there, but most especially with all those children and their dads who are needlessly apart, failed by their main carers and failed by a broken family justice system that is behind the times. Those dads will continue to suffer every single day, as will their children, many of whom will grow up living with the effects of the daily guilt of having to deny their love for one parent in order to hold on to the love of the other. It will be very hard for these children and their alienated parents to forgive the Government and the courts for their obstruction and inaction. But if we all work constructively together, for the sake of all those children of separated families, progress can and will be made. We wish everyone a Happy Father's Day. If you are a father, and you are in touch or with your children - have a great day. If you are a father and for whatever reason you cannot be with your child or children, we hope that they will be happy and much loved and appreciated in your thoughts throughout the day and in the future. Please support us in our work to change things for the better. Support us by becoming a member, making a donation, or becoming a volunteer. You can register on our site to receive our Newsletters, surveys and other information - or just follow us on Facebook and share our posts.
  • It was refreshing to see the Women and Equalities Select Committee strongly supporting extending paternity leave. They proposed a month being offered at 90% of salary. Their reason was essentially to do with bridging the gender pay gap. But there are other excellent reasons for supporting them, Involving fathers more in care of their children brings wellbeing benefits to the children and in nations where paternity leave is more generous, fathers care for their children more not just whilst together, but also when parents break-up. The Government's rejection of the Committee's recommendations is dispiriting. Their claims of supporting equality seem hollow. They are letting mums, dads and children down whilst desperately hugging onto the past - failing to recognise that most families have two working parents and two caring parents. Most fathers are no longer to be 'providers' and mothers to be 'carers'. https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/news-parliament-2017/fathers-workplace-government-response-17-19/ Please support FNF by liking our posts, following us, registering with us for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • Today we heard the news that an Education Select Committee report on school exclusions is due to be published soon. It is expected to be "damning" and will show that exclusions have reached 35 per day for every school day of the year! We very much hope that it will include statistics and will report on how many excluded children come from separated or "single parent" families where one parent or the other is not involved in a meaningful relationship with the child - broken down by parent and child gender. We are certainly a gender-inclusive charity, but we cannot condone ignoring the effects of increasing fatherlessness on society. We suspect that much of today's violence, knife-crime and many other public disorder offences could relate to offenders who have not benefitted from the involvement of their fathers when they were growing up. Let's see the media start to ask tough questions about this in future!
  • Child abduction is devastating for any parent from whom a child is taken. It is also damaging to the child. In the case reported here the six year old boy was living with his father, but was not returned after a weekend visit to the mother. Around 3 children a week are abducted by a parent http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5785797/Police-hunt-British-boy-6-feared-abducted-Spanish-holiday-resort.html If you have reason to believe your child might be abducted then make sure their passport is safe. If the child does not live with you, consider getting a Prohibited Steps Order, preventing the child from being taken abroad and ask for their passport to be held by a third party such as a solicitor. If your child has not been returned and is missing, inform the police as soon as possible and ask them to put out an All Ports Warning. If it is too late and the child is abroad the next step will depend on the country they have gone to. Some are easier to deal with than others. However, it is almost always easier to try to manage with these issues before the child has been taken to another country. Support the work of FNF by liking this page, following us on Facebook, registering for free, making a donation or joining and becoming a member.

FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

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