You are a family – it may not be the average mum, dad and 2.3 kids, but you are a family. This can take some persistent changing of your mindset to engage with this mental picture. Encourage your children to embrace it also. It is important to see yourself like that and not be paranoid about what others think of you.
Ask you kids to draw their family. This will clue you in on how they see it. Many years ago my daughter did a project on her family for German and created ‘her family’ by picturing her brother and herself in the centre with her dad, stepmother and step brother on one side, and me (and our pet dog!) on the other. Earlier she did a piece of artwork for the school fundraiser art show labelled ‘My family’ with the three of us.
Do you reference yourselves as a family or do you use language that implies you are not eg saying when mummy finds a new partner then we can do family things or referring to yourselves as a broken family?
8 steps to help you see yourself as a family
- Don’t describe yourself as a broken family. You are whole and complete.
- Develop family time with specific activities that everyone enjoys and can participate in.1
- Support each other, going to concerts and sporting matches. Be each other’s cheer squad.1
- Keep family traditions and start new ones. 1
- Have fun. Create enjoyable snippets of time that will be the children’s memories of their childhood.
- Do things as a family (leaving the paranoia of judgment at home).
- Encourage contact with extended family to help create a sense of larger family. 1
- Find a surrogate family for your children if you don’t have family close by or willing to be involved. Remember be safe!
You can grow your sense of being family by being cheer squads for each other attending football matches and music concerts, keeping family traditions and starting new ones, and finding family activities that everyone enjoys. You can create a larger sense of family by encouraging contact with extended family, this includes your parenting partner’s family.
For more tips see the blog 8 Steps to see yourself as a family – not a broken one
For some help to plan your year as a family click here
- Hart, A. (1996) Helping your children survive divorce, Word Publishing, USAp181-182