Custody Preparation for Moms

A support site provided by those that have been through the process.
   

 

 

Getting Healthy, Strong and Independent

 

A major life change like divorce can be harrowing for women's mental and emotional health. Insensitive and untrained court personnel in conjunction with a no-holds barred former spouse and his aggressive attorney can use your emotions against you. Do not let them! Be aware that courts have pathologized women's emotional responses to life stresses and deemed them to be mentally unstable. Regardless of the fact that depression is a typical response to prolonged exposure to abuse, forced separation from your children, divorce/custody litigation itself, the source of the depression is often overlooked. Some judges have gone so far as to deem a women unfit because she cried in the court room. Get determined not to give them ammunition. Keeping yourself calm and mentally prepared to deal with stress is good for you personally, good for your case and it's good for your children!

When reading the suggestions below, keep in mind that now is a time to be good to yourself.  Think back to a time before you were married or before children came along.  What interested you?  What gave you joy?  What were you passionate about?
Have you always wanted to do or try something that you just never got around to doing?  Find something just for you that you can focus on and go for it

If you have recently become non-custodial or have experienced significantly lessened time with your children, these suggestions may also help you to fight depression, keep busy and make new friends:


Suggestions:

Do something nice for yourself daily--Small things can have a major boost to your self esteem.  Maybe a little purchase such as a CD, a cup of "designer" coffee, a new book.  Cook a nice meal for yourself.  Take a bubble bath.  Use some nail polish.  Call up an old friend.  Indulge in a piece of chocolate.  Above all, talk positively to yourself.

Take a class--doesn't have to be anything costly or major--could be underwater basket weaving--it doesn't matter; it is a way to meet people, occupy your time and maybe have fun.  What have you always wanted to explore but never had the time?  Crafts? Gourmet cooking?  Tennis?  

Volunteer your time--find something that interests you and give back to your community. You get a boost from doing something nice, it occupies times, and you're likely to meet very nice people.

Become active with your children's school if they go to school near you.  It helps the school, your kids love it, other kids love it, the teachers love it, and it is good for the community.  If they don't live near you, get in touch with school personnel and set up a system to receive school and class newsletters, progress reports and report cards.  Find out the methods your child's teacher prefers to communicate--e-mail, fax, phone, snail-mail.  

Exercise - Invite others you meet to exercise with you. There are always people wanting to lose weight, reduce stress, improve their lung capacity and heart rates, get generally fit, etc. It doesn't have to be an expensive gym--walking qualifies as exercise. Often others are just waiting for someone else to give them a push.

Join things - Look through your local newspaper for clubs and activities that interest you. Your local community calendar in the newspaper is a good source for a variety of free or low-cost activities and events to attend.  Are you religious? How about singles groups at a church or other activities at your church? In this way you find people with interest common to yours. Considered Parents Without Partners? I checked into it--never used it, but am always getting e-mails about family activities that you can bring your kids to and not have to feel odd because you're single--because everyone else is too.

Consider your strengths - You might feel like you need others to entertain your kids, but what your children will enjoy is quality time with you--the relaxed and confident you. Work on being the best you that you can be. The rest will flow naturally. Its nice to have friends along but not necessary for the kids to enjoy their outings with you.

Work - If you work, are there social activities there you could join in? Some of the best friendships can be found through work or work-related activities and networks.

Reach out to others - Keep in mind that other people may need you as much as you need them. Take the initiative with people you might meet through the above ideas--casually ask them to join you for coffee, spur-of-the moment lunch, maybe later invite them over to dinner, or to a movie. Sure, you might encounter some rejection--so what? You also might not!

Read relevant books--Browse your local library for books that will help you in any or all of these categories: healing from abuse, parenting, child development, empowerment, mothering/importance of mothers, divorce/custody, etc.  Some days you will find you don't have the strength to read books on certain topics.  Be kind to yourself and do what you can.  

Effect Change - Consider becoming an advocate for moms and children in similar situations to yours.  One person can have an incredible force for change. In fact, women have historically been a driving force in social change.  


Good luck! You can do this!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." 

Margaret Mead (1901 - 1978) US anthropologist



 

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