Posts tagged “How to help children”

Father’s Day is on Sunday – how will you be celebrating? 
 
For many of us, Father’s Day brings about memories and thoughts that may be painful. Here are just a few of the situations that can make Father’s Day a difficult holiday to enjoy: 
Having lost a father (or father figure) 
Wanting, but not being able to, have children 
Having a difficult relationship with your father/children 
Being a widow with children who will miss their father on Sunday 
Being a father who has no contact with his children 
Being a father whose child has died, gone missing, run away 
Growing up with an absent father or a father you never knew 
Having a serious illness and spending Father's Day in hospital 
Father's Day when you're grieving
Whether it be to a new home, a new school, or to a different country, all of us will have moved at some point in our lives. 
 
Many moves happen during childhood, when young families expand and build homes, experience a job transfer, or find a better suited school for their children. Well-meaning parents, anticipating that the move may be difficult, scary or painful for their child, try to ward off any negative feelings by making positive, hopeful statements. 
 
Whether you always made a big deal of Father’s Day or it barely raised a mention in your household there is no doubt that this year it will feel like it’s everywhere and unrelenting.  
 
Continual reminders of the life you no longer have, rubbing salt into your wounded heart. 
 
Unfortunately, however much you want to put your head under the duvet and not come out until Tuesday you can’t. You have to continue to be both parents to your kids who also are being bombarded with images of kids playing or bonding with their Dad’s. So what can you do to get through this as best you can? 
 
1) Make it a team effort 
Talk to your kids ahead of time to discuss what they’d like to do to mark the day or not mark it at all. Be sure to let them air their ideas and show them you have listened equally you have your say too – if something is going to be too difficult for you it is OK to say so. 
Father and child in the sunset
 
All relationships are unique – so an article like this can only serve as a starting point for you and your unique situation. If you have more than one child, then each of them will have had their own unique relationship with their Mum, reflecting their own unique lives and experiences so it won’t be surprising to find that feelings around this annual event will be different for each of you. 
Therefore, our first suggestion is to talk about Mother’s Day before it happens; have some suggestions on what to do on the day and ask them what they want to do, either by talking about your idea and asking for reactions or letting them go first. Even the very youngest may have strong feelings, be prepared for this. 
In the wake of the terror attack in Manchester which was even more horrifying as it seemed to target children, many parents are left lost as to what to say to their kids and how to say it. Parents left with a strong emotional reaction themselves, are having to do an emotional juggling act between the strong natural urge to protect their children and the need to not let the terrorists win. At Grief Recovery we know that the definition of grief sums this up: "Grief is the conflicting feelings following a change or end in a familiar pattern of behaviour." So having acknoweldged that what you and your kids is experiencing is grief here are some practical tips to help you address this. 
1) Remember everyone and every experience is unique so there is no magic set of words that are appropriate for everybody. 
 
2) Kids are people too. The guidelines are the same no matter what age of person you are talking to. The only thing that changes is age appropriate language. 
 
3) It is important to acknowledge that sad, anxious, painful feelings are real and are the completely normal and natural response to loss of any kind. In these circumstances, there may be a range of losses including loss of sense of safety. This means that when your child expresses their fears or anxieties it is important allow them to fully express those fears uninterrupted rather than cutting them off in your rush to help them feel better. When they  
A question we often get asked is “should I take my young child to a funeral?” At Grief Recovery, we believe that all feelings are normal and natural including sad or painful ones so it would be easy to say “yes of course”. The real question is whether your child is old enough to hang around relatively quietly while the adults do what they must do. If they can do that then yes, they should go. 
Crucially before that happens the child needs to know what to expect and what your expectations are of them so you’ll need to do some explaining before the event: 
I often get asked about what to say to children who have experienced loss so I thought it would be helpful to put some helpful hints and tips here passed to me by John W James and Russell Friedman. 
 
Do Go First. As the adult you’re the leader. 
 
Do Tell the Truth about how you feel. Telling the truth about your own grief and about how you feel will establish a tone of trust and make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings. 
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