March 2004, Message of the Month

Open Heart - Artwork by Kelly Winter Happy March!

One of the difficult things about two-home families can be the moment of saying goodbye to one parent or the other for children. The emotions that arise for children can be due to a number of things. They could be overtired, over-stimulated, or unwilling to let that parent go at that particular moment. We might not be able to prevent every variable from creating a difficult moment, however we can do a number of things to help our children and ourselves experience these moments with more ease.

My son Niky was having difficulty saying goodbye to his father after eight years of us living in two homes. Niky is now eleven years old and it was apparent that he needed some new tools to use when parting from his dad. My son is also at an age where his relationship with his father is extremely important to him. Nik is identifying more with his father as he grows into a young man. His need for me as his mother is still present and yet, it has changed. He relies more on his dad to discuss guy things and things that happen socially at school. All of this is wonderful until the moment that he separates from his dad for his time with me. We do have extra family time together in between, but there was still a problem.

I realized at this point that Niky needed something more than just my validation for his feelings when parting from his father. I let him know that it was truly his creation, the moment of separating from his dad, and that it could be anything he wanted it to be. Niky looked at me immediately when I spoke to him on this level. We discussed how he could choose sadness and tears or humor and laughter, but again, it was a choice. We acknowledged that saying goodbye can be sad, however, if we focused on being together in two days we could lighten the sadness. I asked Niky to make a vision of what he wanted to create with his dad. I then, called Jav and asked him to participate with Niky to make this vision. They could use a code word or a hand signal that no one else understood, or they could tickle fight and be goofy. While they night not have a routine, they seem more comfortable with parting than they did before. The awareness of consciously creating helped my son tremendously to take charge and create something fun instead of being caught in an old pattern of sadness and loss.

It is important for us to model for our children that we have complete faith that they will be well when they are away from us for a night or a week. They must know we are there if they need us, and that we will come if we are called to them. If we can set them free to love the other parent and to have fun, then, they will be well. They will have the power of loving freely and knowing that they are safe and trusted. This will enrich their experience with both parents. They are safe to love both their parents without judgment and recriminations. It is the best gift we can give our children.