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« How Divorced Parents can Help Children Survive the Holidays | Main | Facebook | Divorce & Total Recall »


Jeanne M. Hannah

Wendy, thank you for your comments. Making your children's happiness your focus and providing them with confidence and tools to grow no matter what challenges they would meet in the future was such a great gift--really the gift that keeps on giving!"

I am hopeful that parents under stress (not just from a high-conflict divorce, but as you point out, other major stressors such as the serious illness of a parent) will take heart from Bud Dale's message and also from yours.

Thank you for adding to this conversation. Jeanne

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Excellent post. Thank you.

In 1990 I dealt with a similar transformation as a mother under different circumstances. My children were 1, 3, and 5 years old when I was diagnosed with a type of cancer that was -- and still is -- incurable with current therapies.

At first, my emotions revolved around the pain of knowing my children might lose me. But this hope to see them grow to adulthood didn't help them or me. If anything, this hope added stress to our interactions and made me more anxious —- waiting helplessly while trying to banish thoughts of my children without me.
With guidance, I discovered a more healing hope.

Just as Janey shifted her focus to her children's happiness, wherever they were or whoever was caring for them at the time, I shifted my focus to my children's happiness: I began hoping they would grow up healthy and happy, whatever happened with me.

Making my children's well-being as my primary concern "mobilized me to address the what ifs, after which they drifted into the background. This hope comforted me when I saw other adults nurture my children. This hope opened my eyes to the everyday opportunities to teach my children the skills and values I'd want to teach them if I had all the time in the world. As long as my future health remained uncertain, this hope connected me to the future in life-affirming ways, thus helping me find some happiness." [From "Managing Uncertainty: Hope"]

The greatest gift we can give our children is not protection from the world, but the confidence and tools to cope and grow with all life has to offer.

Happy Holidays! With hope, Wendy

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