Father’s Day without the kids

Whether it is your first Father’s Day as a single parent or your tenth, being away from your children on a special day can be tough.

One of the key challenges is if Father’s Day does not fall on your weekend with the kids. In this situation, who the kids spend the day with very much depends on how amicable you are.

Hopefully, in most cases, flexibility and respect will be in place and the kids will spend the day with their Dad. However, we know this is not always the case, so the five tips below will help you manage the day, the best you can.

Think ahead

If Father’s Day does not fall on your weekend, then some pre-planning will help. Talk to your ex-partner months in advance to see if weekends/days can be swapped so you can be together. And ensure that you do the same for Mother’s Day.

Communicate in a different way

If seeing the children is simply not possible then look at other ways to communicate. Pick a good time with your ex-partner, calling during screen time or lunch is never good, and call them for a video chat. Depending on the age, why not read a bedtime story?

Do something different with your day

If you cannot see them, then do something with your day. Get friends together for who Father’s Day is difficult and get out even if it just for a quick drink. If possible, spend time with your own Dad. You will miss your kids and it will not be the best of days, but you can control it not being the worse.

Pick a different day

Father’s Day is just a date. So, move it. Plan something for a day when you do have the kids and organise something for you all to do something together.

Stowe top tip – Stay off social media

Our number one tip is to AVOID social media. Nothing worse than scrolling through hours of #blessed posts about father’s celebrating with their kids.

Put your phone down and disconnect for the day. Instead, focus your attention on having the best day possible and creating a special day for you and your children later.

And remember, being a father is a lifetime job so do not let 24 hours overshadow all the rest of your good times together.

If you are struggling to deal with Father’s Day after a divorce or separation, the following websites have some useful tools and advice.

Families need Fathers

Hear other father’s experiences

Separated Dads

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Author: Stowe Family Law

Dating after divorce: 5 dating terms you need to know in 2019

Dating after divorce can be brutal, particularly if your marriage / long relationship lasted for a couple of decades. If this is the case, the last time you dated, back in 1999, there was no dating apps, no ghosting and certainly no bread crumbing.

Instead, it was a world of speed dating, matchmaking and a ‘little black book’. And, the most popular dating term was the straight forward “He’s Just Not That into You” popularised in an episode of ‘Sex in the City’ in the ‘00s.

So, if you find yourself “back out there again” (something that strikes fear in anyone at any age) after a relationship breakdown, we’ve rounded up some of the latest dating terms you need to know to survive.

First up, dating apps. According to Glamour Magazine, the best dating apps in 2019 are Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Happn, Wingman, Pickable, Badoo and Coffee Meet Bagel. The article also declares “one app is SO 2018” so you can find out more and select your choices of digital dating here.

Next stop, dating terms. Well, there are plenty out there, here are our favourite (?) five.


Things have ended or, maybe they haven’t? It was not clear. Either way, they have continued to like all your social posts, spy on your Instagram stories etc to make sure you know that they are still there. Not quite in your life but not entirely removed.

Bread crumbing

Bread crumbing basically means stringing someone along. Think, suggesting a date but never with any actual plans or commenting on your latest Insta but screening your calls. To be blunt, they are not forgetful. This is tactical. They are not interested in you but having you around boosts their ego.


If your first experience of zombies was the film ‘24 days later’ with the now Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders in lead, zombies are not the first thing that pops to mind when dating. Today, however, it is a sort of non-committed ghosting. So just as you realise you may have ghosted, they return from the dead (like a zombie) and get back in touch.


You have dated for months and things seem to be going well but you realise that you have never been introduced to anyone: family, friends, colleagues. In fact, you only see each other when the ‘pocket-er’ wants to or has nothing else planned.  It’s like they have just stuffed you in their pocket to keep you hidden.


You are dating someone but get the feeling they are dating others.  They want to see you, but it is clear that you are their plan B or C whilst they keep looking for a better option. They do not want to burn the relationship bridge, just yet.

Dating after divorce 

Wow, welcome to the complicated and slightly terrifying modern world of dating. It certainly is a minefield and its digitalisation brings both benefits and challenges.

So, if you are getting ready to date again after divorce, take your time, go with your instinct and remember sometimes, they are just not that into you and that’s fine.

Good luck out there.

Disclaimer: I left ghosting out of the list as it has been around for a while, even I at 43 years old have heard of it before.

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Stowe guests: Why do I need a divorce coach?

Today for Stowe guests, we are joined by Rebecca Spittles, a Divorce Coach from Bristol.

Rebecca offers one-to-one coaching sessions and workshops that focus on the emotional and practical issues surrounding separation and divorce.

She joins us to explain how a divorce coach can help you to stay focused and make clear and well-informed decision before, during and after a divorce.

“Why do you need a Divorce Coach?

Whether you have left, you want to leave or have been left, a Divorce Coach will sit beside you steering you through the myriad of information and emotions that will come up during and after your divorce process.

Unlike a psychologist or counsellor who will analyse and give advice, a coach is there to motivate, guide and inspire. A coach will focus on the outcome, and then break that down into sections (maybe weeks or days) so that you can make clear and well-informed decisions with the help of your solicitor.

A Coach is there for YOU as a sounding board and empty space for you to fill with the EMOTION of your Divorce.

But I have fabulous support from my friends and family.

Yes, and that is amazing, you can tightly wrap them around you. However, your coach will be there for you to rant at, to be angry at, to look for solutions for you, to help you find the light at the end of what can be a very long tunnel.

The most important thing is that your coach is unbiased, non-judgmental and wants the best outcome but isn’t your mum, sister or best friend who have their own personal feelings regarding your situation. A coach allows you to manage your own feelings and find strategies to deal with the emotions of the people closest to you.

What about the cost? I am already paying for a solicitor.

It’s no secret that it costs to get divorced, but by working with a coach you can speed up the process, save the frustration and unnecessary emotional turmoil and, in turn, save money. You can fully utilise your solicitor to do their job: to make your actual divorce as straight-forward as possible, sort out the financial element and the child contact element. You won’t feel the need to lean on them for emotional support – which they are not trained to give.

The benefits of a divorce and separation online course

This course is designed for anyone who has been through or is going through separation and divorce and is run in a group setting via Facebook.

It includes interactive Zoom calls once a week as well as my regular presence on the page – not forgetting the chance to ‘meet’ people in the same place as you.

Small 5 minute ‘Game Changer’ challenges will be posted daily as well as inspirational stories and techniques to assist you at this truly challenging time of your life.

My next course starts on 1st July for further details go to my website or call 07427 173839 or by email: rebecca@rebeccaspittles.com

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Stowe guests: How play therapy can help children and teenagers of divorce and separation

For children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation, expressing their emotions can be difficult. To start, they do not communicate as well as adults by talking and do not understand how to verbalise the emotions that come from a family breakdown.

Instead, they often use play to express themselves. This is a non-threatening approach where they are not asked to talk but instead just play. However, through play, a lot of what they are feeling, and thinking is projected.

So, for this instalment of Stowe guests, we asked Penn Wall from Penn Wall Play Therapy to join us on the blog to explain how Play Therapy can help children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation.

“Play is an essential part of every child’s development emotionally, socially and spiritually; it helps to develop the child’s personality and character. It is necessary for children to reach their full potential and can result in long-term positive health effect both physically and mentally.

What is play therapy?

Play therapy empowers children and teenagers to cope with problems in their lives and to increase their self-esteem and confidence. It improves their emotional wellbeing and may be used to help and support a mild to a moderate, emotional or psychological problem that is preventing them from functioning normally. Play therapy is called special time for the younger children and chill out time for teenagers.

What will my child do in play therapy?

There are many activities for children and teenagers to do in play therapy. Sand tray, art, clay and role play are generally the most popular. There are musical instruments, art & crafts, dolls, puppets, dressing up clothes and props, as well as a selection of objects that they use in the sand tray. The child/teenager chooses what they want to do and at their own pace.

I am getting a divorce and worried about my children, how can play therapy help? 

If your children are showing signs of anger, frustration, sadness or depression, it might be that they are struggling to deal with the enormity of the situation that they find themselves in and over which they have no control.

Children and teenagers often feel that a situation is their fault, or their mother’s or their father’s fault. Their upset and frustration can result in emotional outbursts, becoming withdrawn, being physically/verbally aggressive and acting in a way that parents may not have seen before.

This behaviour is completely normal, but it naturally causes great concern. This is where play therapy can help.

By creating a safe permissive space, children and teenagers can process things that are going on in their lives through play. Play therapy is about reflecting feelings back to the child/teenager in such a manner that they gain insight into their behaviour. It is about acknowledging that you are listening and have heard what they are expressing. This does not necessarily need to be verbal.

It is giving the child the empowerment to make choices and institute change. During symbolic play and through using metaphors the child/teenager is able to express their emotions. This enables them to release their emotions in a way that they discover their inner self and strength. This is a pathway to believe in themselves.

What are the benefits of play therapy?

Play therapy really works as a way to handle a divorce or separation, by enabling children and teenagers to express, process and deal with their emotions.

I recently worked with a young boy who was struggling to deal with the changes brought about by divorce and this was impacting on his school, home life and relationships.

We worked together in weekly sessions and as his Mum noted, “He changed into a confident and happier little boy. For me, the biggest impact was he was able to communicate how he was feeling, something that he found really frustrating before.”

To find out more.

To find out more about how play therapy can help children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation you can visit my website: Penn Wall Play Therapy or email: penn@pennwallplaytherapy.co.uk

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Stowe guests: Three tips to help children through divorce

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.

Today, she joins us with three tips on how to support your children through divorce (they also work well for adults). Over to Claire to explain more…

I see a lot of clients who are worried about the impact their divorce may have on their children, and they ask how they can best support their children through the process.  Many of the techniques I use with my clients are simple and work brilliantly with children, with very positive results.

Here are three of my favourites:

Help them to find the upside

I worked with a mum recently whose daughter was finding it very difficult to adjust to life after her parents’ relationship broke down.  My client felt that she wasn’t best equipped to help her daughter handle her emotions at a time when she too felt bereft and low.

We worked together to find the upside, and to reframe how my client could look at her situation so that she could see a different perspective.

“Flip it to find the positive, and concentrate on that” – Sara Davison, the Divorce Coach

You can help your children to do this too.  Try asking your child:

  • If there was one tiny upside to this, what would it be?
  • If you could see a silver lining, what would it be?
  • If there was just one good thing about this, what would it be?
  • What are you glad about today?

These are fabulous questions that can help your child to see a positive even if it is only small right now.  I used to look for the upside all the time during my own divorce, and it really helped to be able to see glimmers of light.  When you practice asking these questions, it becomes a habit and gives you a whole new way of approaching any challenge.

My client’s daughter responded that she enjoyed going swimming with Daddy on her own last week and that they’d had fun in the park on Saturday.  She was also enjoying the opportunity to do more craft activities with her Mum when they had time together.

Your child might resist and say there is nothing good about this at all, but persevere, “I know it might not be obvious, but if there was one good thing about this, what would it be?”.  You could give them your examples of the tiny good things:  it could be that you can now cook with ginger whenever you fancy, or that you don’t need to watch EastEnders any more. And show them that you can find the upside yourself.  Watch them follow your lead.

Show them how changing how they stand can change how they feel

“The way you move determines the way you feel” – Tony Robbins

Sometimes all that is needed to kickstart a change in mood is to change your physiology.

Have you ever felt low and fed up, but then done something silly or fun, or jumped up and down or struck a power pose – and immediately felt better?  It may not seem like the obvious thing to do, and you might resist doing it at first, but I promise it will make a difference.

I have been known to get clients to jump up and down 5 times, or strike a Superman pose in the middle of a session.  Or I get them to stand with their arms outstretched and put a massive grin on their face.

If you haven’t tried this for yourself, do it now!  See what happens.  Try it with your children.  If nothing else, you will have a laugh together – which will send endorphins, the feel-good hormones, flowing around your body.

Show them how to be in ‘control of the clicker’

“Whenever I’d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice – darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie” – Arianna Huffington

Wise words!

Your brain will try to answer the questions you ask it.  When you ask questions like “why is this happening to me?”, “what did I do to deserve this?”, “will this never end?”, the answers can cause your mood to spiral downwards very quickly.  If it can spiral down that quickly, then asking better questions can reverse that downwards movement.

I spend time with clients creating lists of better questions to ask themselves, such as:

  • What would my best friend advise me right now?
  • What would help me to feel better today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What choices do I have right now?
  • What have I done that I am proud of?

Often clients write their questions onto post-it notes and stick them up around their house, to remind them to ask those better questions.  These questions work equally well with children, and they encourage them to model the resilience that you are showing yourself.

Children learn by experience and by modelling the behaviours they see in those around them.  When children see and model a parent who is calm and collected, who responds with dignity in a crisis, and who has strategies to handle stress and challenge, they too grow in resilience and confidence. By passing on techniques and tips to your children, you empower them to process what is happening and move forward themselves.

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Coping with divorce and depression

Marriage break-ups can often be followed by periods of depression and anxiety for divorcing husbands and wives.

And no wonder. The end of a long-term relationship can spark a range of emotions and fears for the future. It is important to remember that this is completely normal. You will have good days and bad days, just as everyone else does.

Below, we have detailed five tips that will help you to build resilience to navigate the process of separation. And remember, marriage takes two, and if one person is unhappy the other will suffer. Try to shift your thinking from “it’s the end of the world” to “it’s the beginning of the new.”

Feel your feelings

Feeling emotions helps you deal with them. It’s completely natural to feel sad, disappointed, angry, scared… sometimes all in one hour. Do not shy away from them. Burying these feelings leads to bitterness and you will not move forward. Don’t carry the undealt negative emotions into the next stage of your life.

Stop thinking you are a failure

Divorce can rock your self-esteem and self-worth.  Whatever the circumstances, you will ask yourself, what went wrong? Was it my fault? Am I not good enough? However, remember this is your bruised confidence talking. Of course, your self-esteem takes a hit when a relationship ends, but the way to fill the hole left by divorce is through acceptance of and kindness to yourself.  Learn to believe in you again.

Surround yourself with support

Identify your support network and talk to them.  This is the best way to stop yourself from becoming isolated. Connect with friends and family who are supportive and boost your mood. This is not the time for judgement. Often people who have been through a break-up themselves and know what you are going through can offer useful advice.

If you prefer to talk to people you do not know, then seek out a counsellor or local support group. There is a list of useful contact numbers at the end of this article.

Meet a new side of you

You are no less by being single. You are just not part of a couple which is okay.  Often, in a long-term relationship, you can lose a part of your identity which is normal, but you were your own person before and you will be again. Think about what you like doing but stopped because married life took over. Return to them again, or think about what you have always wanted to do and give it a try.

Be kind to yourself

Take time to do something purely for you. Think about what you enjoy, such as a long walk, a soak in the bath, get out running, practice yoga, read a book or bake for friends and family. Also, remember to cover the basics: eat well, get plenty of sleep and rest when you need to.

Getting help for depression

If you’re struggling with the emotional aspects of separation and are concerned about depression and anxiety there are some useful contacts below. Please do seek professional help and support.

Mind Information, advice and support on all aspects of mental health

0300 123 3393

NHS Provides information on what depression is, its causes, how to spot the signs, where to get help, and treatment.

Samaritans Provides confidential emotional support for those experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including suicidal feelings.

116 123 (Freephone number)

SANE A national helpline offering emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness.

0300 304 7000

Hopeline UK Non-judgmental support and advice for children and people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Call: 0800 068 41 41 / Text: 0778 620 9697

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Do we need a domestic abuse register?

A headline on BBC News before Easter read: “Mother calls for ‘domestic abuse register’”. The headline refers to the mother of Jayden Parkinson, the teenager who was brutally murdered by her former boyfriend, Ben Blakeley. Blakeley was found guilty of strangling 17 year old Jayden, who was expecting his child, and burying her body in his uncle’s grave. He is currently serving a life sentence, with a minimum term of twenty years.

Crucially, it came to light in the course of the murder trial that Blakeley had a history of violence towards previous partners. Three former girlfriends gave evidence against him, including one who said he had pushed her down the stairs when she was seven months pregnant.

Now Jayden’s mother is calling for a register to be kept “to keep track of the activities of perpetrators of domestic abuse, violence and stalking” (according to the BBC report). She is quoted as saying of Jayden: “She’d be here now, because for all the agencies at the point when Jayden went missing, to them she was a pain-in-the-butt teenager… and if that register had been here, and they’d all looked at it, they’d have seen how vulnerable she was.”

But what exactly would such a register contain, and do we need it? Or to put it another way, would such a register make a difference?

Now, this is a complex issue, and I could not possibly do justice to it in one short blog post. However, think it is worthwhile to set out a few initial thoughts.

The first question that comes to mind is: Who goes on the register? Is it just those who are convicted of a criminal offence related to domestic abuse? Or would those against whom a family court has made a domestic abuse injunction also be included? If the latter, then two further thoughts come to mind.

Firstly, that many allegations made in the family courts are of a quite ‘low-level’ nature – would all of these trigger inclusion on the register? Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not trivialising domestic abuse. There is no excuse for any of it, but it seems rather extreme to put someone whose actions were not particularly serious on a register. Remember, being on such a register could seriously affect the liberty of that person.

The second, linked, point is that this could lead to an awful lot of people going on to the register. That could lead to one of two effects, both of which would ‘water down’ the idea: that it is impossible to gauge the risk posed by any particular person on the register, or that everyone on the register is considered to be ‘high risk’, even when many of them are not.

And can a perpetrator ever get their name off the register? As I said, being on the register would be a serious matter. Save in the most serious of cases it would surely be unfair to be on it automatically for life, but what must the perpetrator do to show that they are no longer a risk? Or would they simply come off it after a set period of time, as with rehabilitation of offenders? These are questions that would have to be answered.

But the biggest question is the one I’ve already asked: would such a register make a difference?

As suggested by Jayden’s mother, the register could be checked by any agencies involved in the welfare of a vulnerable person. I suppose those agencies could have procedures in place to ensure that the register is checked, when appropriate. However, such cases will surely be comparatively rare. Presumably, the register could be viewed by any member of the public who is concerned about a (potential) partner. However, realistically, how many people entering into a relationship will do this? If you have any concerns about a partner, you will act on those concerns (if you are able to), without needing to look at a register.

And lastly there are already two mechanisms in place which have a similar effect to such a register, both of which were mentioned in the BBC article. Firstly, convicted domestic abusers and stalkers are already captured on the Police National Computer (although that cannot of course be access by the general public), and secondly, we already have the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, better known as ‘Clare’s Law’, which allows the police to disclose information on request about a person’s domestic abuse history. I’m not sure how much a domestic abuse register would add to this.

Nobody knows for certain whether Jayden would still have been alive today if there had been a register. Certainly, the possibility that she could be makes a powerful argument in favour. However, there are clearly some serious questions to be answered before a register is put in place.

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Author: John Bolch

What should I do if my husband/wife is having an affair?

Finding out that your spouse is having an affair can be devastating and place a severe strain on a relationship. Sometimes it spells the end of the marriage. Other times, couples repair the relationship, often making it stronger.

There is no right or wrong answer here. However, if you are married, there are some legal considerations for you if you partner has an affair. So, we asked Gabby Read-Thomas from our Altrincham office to take us through what you need to do if you find out your spouse has / is having an affair.

“Shocked, betrayed and confused are just some of the emotions that I see my clients dealing with when their relationship has broken down due to an affair.

In the beginning, I advise them to allow themselves some time to consider next steps rather than lashing out in an act of retaliation which they may later regret.

Once the initial dust has settled, communication is crucial, whether you want to try and save the relationship or have decided it is over and need to plan a way forward.

Staying together

Relationship counselling can be extremely helpful in supporting couples to open-up, explore the problems between them and get back on track.

There are many counselling services available, such as Relate, and a simple Google search should help you locate someone in your area or try the National Counselling Society, find a counsellor directory.


If there is no way back following an affair, then I would recommend taking early advice on the divorce process.

In English law there is only one ground to petition for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Although there has been a lot in the news about the new era of ‘no fault divorce’, it is likely to take some time for parliament to ratify the necessary legislation.  So for now, to prove this, you must currently rely on one of 5 facts and one of these is adultery.

Specifically, the law states that you can petition for a divorce based on adultery if your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them.  Importantly however, same-sex spouses cannot use this fact to prove irretrievable breakdown (and would instead need to allege ‘unreasonable behaviour’).  Importantly, adultery can be committed and used for a reason to divorce, even after a married couple have separated.

Even if adultery is applicable, it isn’t necessarily that straight forward. What the court recognise as adultery and what you consider to be an affair are not always the same thing.

The law relating to adultery

The court considers adultery to be the voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. A close relationship which you may consider inappropriate, involving dates, messages, emails (but without actually having sex with that person) is not recognised legally as adultery.

However, whilst the court would not recognise it as adultery, such behaviour can be used as an example of unreasonable behaviour and a divorce petition can be presented on this basis instead, as it can with same-sex spouses who discover their spouse is conducting a relationship with a third party

It should also be pointed out that if you continue to live with your spouse for a period of 6 months or more after you found out about the adultery then you cannot use that adultery as the basis for a divorce petition, unless that adultery is continuing  If so,  the 6 month period begins to run from the last adulterous incident. If however it was a ‘one-off’ which took place more than 6 months before you found out, or your spouse denies having committed adultery, your safer option is to proceed on the basis of their behaviour.

Getting divorced

Citing adultery in a divorce petition requires the spouse to admit to the adultery in the paperwork. From a practical point of view, it is worthwhile asking their spouse  to sign a  statement confirming their agreement before proceedings are issued. In the long-run this will help reduce the risk of costly defended divorce proceedings. Again, if your spouse is unwilling to sign a statement, you should consider presenting your petition on the basis of unreasonable behaviour.

If you continue with the adultery petition and the divorce is defended it is the court that will decide whether there is evidence to show that the adultery has been committed, and let’s face it, short of hiring a private investigator (which can be done) it  is unlikely that you will have any direct evidence of the adultery.  However, if there is enough circumstantial evidence to show opportunity and an inclination to commit adultery, the court should be able to draw inferences that the adultery has been proved and the petition can proceed on that basis.

If you have concerns your spouse is having an affair and would like some initial legal advice, please contact our Client Care Team here or at the number below. All enquiries are strictly confidential.


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Author: Gabrielle Read Thomas

Stowe guests: Rewriting your divorce story

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.

Today, she joins us to look at how you can rewrite your divorce story and five great questions to ask yourself to help you along the way.

How often do you find yourself telling your divorce story?  

How does it make you feel when you tell it?  

How you tell your story matters, because it will affect the way you feel inside, how you react, and how others see you.

 When my husband first left, I told my sad story a million times.  I focused on how awful it was, how hard I was finding it, how unfair it was, and how angry I felt.  I spent hours and hours trying to work out what had gone wrong, why this was happening to me, and not coming up with any answers – or at least none that were helpful.  

It was no wonder I felt down!  Every time I told my story, I was re-feeling all the emotions that were tied up with it.  I saw myself as the victim of my divorce, and that was keeping me feeling stuck and overwhelmed.   

I realised I needed to do something to shift how I felt and rewrite my story.  I needed to ask myself better questions, ones that would empower me to move forward and begin to think in different ways.

These are 5 of my top questions that you can use to rewrite your divorce story, and shift how you feel:

If there was one good thing about this, what would it be?

This is a hugely powerful, but simple, question, and one that I ask all the time. It can be challenging to think of a good thing when you’re feeling very low, and your first reaction might be “that’s impossible, there is nothing good about this!”.  

Try it once and see what happens.

 I have had all kinds of answers to this question in sessions with me, ranging from “we can eat fish fingers and beans now whenever we like”, “I can turn the light on in the en-suite now when I get up in the night”, to “I no longer feel like a prisoner in my own home”. If you practice asking yourself this question whenever something throws you, you are training your mind to refocus on moving forward. It might be a challenge at first, but if you persevere, it will become a habit, and you will find that you can spot the upside in anything.

What have I done today that I can be proud of?

Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, shift your focus onto what you CAN do, and what you have achieved. I often ask clients to make a list of all the things they have achieved, and what resources they needed to achieve that.  I remember when I mowed the lawn for the first time after my husband left. It sounds like a simple thing, but I’d never done it before, and I felt afterwards that I had achieved another “first”.

What can I do now that I couldn’t do before?

This question also shifts your focus onto opportunities that may be in front of you.  Perhaps your ex hated flying, and now you can plan a holiday abroad. Perhaps you enjoy long walks in the countryside, but it was impossible with small children, and now that you have some time to yourself you could join a walking group. Or maybe your ex disliked certain foods, and now you are free to eat it whenever you want.  The answers don’t have to be huge things, they can be tiny differences – but they are powerful.

What do I have to be grateful for?  What makes me happy?

I always say that gratitude is the best antidote to negative emotions. Despite everything that is happening around you, what good is there in your life? Once I ask this, it is amazing what people come up with. Family, friends, children, health, sunshine, an email of support, a moment of realisation that you are loved.  Just yesterday, a client described how she was able to stand looking out to sea in the sunshine, breathing in the smell of the sea, listening to the sound of the waves, and she was grateful for that moment of peace and calm. Once you know what makes you happy, how can you do more of that?

What new things have I learnt through this process?

Take a moment to consider what new things you might have learnt.  They might be small, and they might be huge. It doesn’t matter – the important thing is that you are shifting your focus.  I learnt so many things through my divorce. I learnt how to fix my car, how to juggle bank accounts, how to breathe so that I could calm my thoughts, and most of all I learnt a huge amount about myself, how strong and resourceful I am, what mattered to me, and who I am.

Take a piece of paper, and a coffee, and sit down to answer these questions.  Notice how you feel as you go through them. Are there good things around you that you aren’t even noticing?  

Now think about how you could tell your story differently. Try telling someone your new story and notice how they react.  Also, notice how it may shift how you feel.

After all, the smallest of things can make the biggest difference. Start with your story.

You can read Claire’s other blogs here and get in touch with her here. 

The post Stowe guests: Rewriting your divorce story appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: Stowe Family Law

12 of the best books to help children cope with divorce

As recent statistics from the Ministry of Justice revealed that divorce rates have gone up by 8% 2017 v 2018 and it is regularly quoted that close to 50% of marriages end, divorce is not unusual.

However, for the families behind the statistics, it is incredibly unusual. There is no set pattern, no rule book on how to deal with it and no guide on the best things to say. And whilst children will have friends whose parents have divorced and people in the wider family, depending on their age they may have no personal insight into what the term actually means.

Through my experience of working with families going through a divorce, I have seen a positive impact reading has had on children dealing with the process. There is comfort in reading for children and books can help them to understand they are not alone, it’s not that fault and that change can be for the better.

Here are my top 12 books, that I have used when working with clients and their children.  I have organised by age range.

Older children (recommended 9+)

The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson

When my parents split up they didn’t know what to do with me . . . My family always lived at Mulberry Cottage. Mum, Dad, me – and Radish, my Sylvanian rabbit. But now Mum lives with Bill the Baboon and his three kids. Dad lives with Carrie and her twins. And where do I live? I live out of a suitcase. One week with Mum’s new family, one week with Dad’s.

Deals with: having two homes, blended families

Clean Break by Jacqueline Wilson

Em adores her funny, glamorous dad – who cares if he’s not her real father? He’s wonderful to her, and to her little brother Maxie and sister Vita. True to form at Christmas, Dad gives them fantastic presents, including a real emerald ring for his little Princess Em.

Unfortunately, he’s got another surprise in store – he’s leaving them. Will Dad’s well-meaning but chaotic attempts to keep seeing Em and the other children help the family come to terms with this new crisis? Or would they be better off with a clean break – just like Em’s arm?

Deals with: rejection, absence, step-parents

Goggle Eyes by Anne Fine

Kitty Killin is not only a good storyteller but also the World’s Greatest Expert when it comes to mothers having new and unwanted boyfriends. Particularly when there’s a danger they might turn into new and unwanted stepfathers…

Deals with: new partners, step-parents

It’s not the end of the world by Judy Blume

Karen’s parents have always argued, and lately, they’ve been getting worse. But when her father announces that they’re going to get divorced, it seems as if Karen’s whole world will fall apart. Her brother, Jeff, blames their mum. Her kid sister, Amy, asks impossible questions and is scared that everyone she loves is going to leave. Karen just wants her parents to get back together. Gradually, she learns that this isn’t going to happen – and realizes that divorce is not the end of the world.

Deals with: family conflict and separation

Younger children (recommended 3-8 yrs)

Mum and Dad Glue by Kes Gray

A little boy tries to find a pot of parent glue to stick his mum and dad back together. His parents have come undone and he wants to mend their marriage, stick their smiles back on and make them better. This rhyming story is brilliantly told with a powerful message that even though his parents may be broken, their love for him is not.

Deals with: coming to terms with parents’ separation

The Family Fairies by Rosemary Lucas

Rosemary’s primary aim was to provide the foundations for other adoptive families to help explain their own remarkable journeys… storytelling to help children understand that families come together in different ways.

Deals with: the adoption process

Two Homes by Claire Masurel

In this award-winning picture book classic about divorce, Alex has two homes – a home where Daddy lives and a home where Mummy lives. Alex has two front doors, two bedrooms and two very different favourite chairs. He has a toothbrush at Mummy’s and a toothbrush at Daddy’s. But whether Alex is with Mummy or Daddy, one thing stays the same: Alex is loved by them both – always. This gently reassuring story focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. Two Homes will help children – and parents – embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.

Deals with: parents’ separation, moving between two homes

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

What is a family? Once, it was said to be a father, mother, boy, girl, cat and dog living in a house with a garden. But as times have changed, families have changed too, and now there are almost as many kinds of families as colours of the rainbow – from a mum and dad or single parent to two mums or two dads, from a mixed-race family to children with different mums and dads, to families with a disabled member. This is a fresh, optimistic look through children’s eyes at today’s wide variety of family life: from homes, food, ways of celebrating, schools and holidays to getting around, jobs and housework, from extended families, languages and hobbies to pets and family trees.

Deals with: change in family dynamics, non-traditional families

Very young children (2+)

I’ll never let you go by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

When you aren’t sure, you’ll feel me near,
When you are scared, I will be here.
When you are high, when you are low,
I’ll be holding your hand and I’ll never let go.

A tender and heartfelt picture book. With reassuring words offering a message of unconditional love, and illustrations bursting with exuberance, warmth and humour.

Deals with: reassurance

Living with mum and living with dad: my two homes

Mum and Dad don’t live together any more, so sometimes this little girl lives with her mum and her cat, and sometimes she lives with her dad. She has two bedrooms and two sets of toys, but she takes her favourite toys with her wherever she goes. This simple, warm, lift-the-flap book with bold and colourful illustrations is a reassuring representation of separation for the youngest children. Melanie Walsh is sympathetically alive to the changes in routine that are familiar to many children who live with separate parents and are loved by both.

Deals with: moving between homes, changes to routine

The Family Book by Todd Parr

Some families have two moms or two dads. Some families have one parent instead of two. Some families live in a house by themselves. Some families share a house with other families. All families can help each other be strong!

The Family Book celebrates families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether they’re big or small, look alike or different, have a single parent or two, Todd Parr assures readers that every family is special in its own unique way.

Deals with: looking at different kinds of families

Guess how much I love you by Sam McBratney

Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure them. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not always an easy thing to measure. The story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares’ efforts to express their love for each other.

Deals with: comfort

Get in touch

If you need support and advice on getting a divorce, please do get in touch with our Client Care Team at the details below or make an online enquiry

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Author: Helen Miller