Parenting Your Kids While Dealing With Emotional Abuse

3 tips for healthy healing, when staying together for the kids, did more damage than divorce

Emotional abuse will leave you with a cacophony of emotional issues:

  • An inability to establish trust
  • Trouble forming new relationships
  • Difficulty regulating your own emotions
  • Severe anxiety and depression
  • An overwhelming feeling of complete worthlessness
  • Sleep disorders
  • And a million other tiny little things that seemed completely normal to you

Until you said it out loud in front of someone and they give you that look that says, "Oh, honey, who hurt you"? 

Five years ago, I left an emotionally abusive marriage of nine years with my two children. I left after my daughter (who was 6 at the time) started having full-on anxiety attacks on a daily basis. Once I realized the kind of damage I was inflicting on my kids, I had to take the steps to make sure that I kept my promise to them to always protect them, even from my own choices. 

Getting to a healthy place after leaving an emotionally abusive relationship is an uphill battle for everyone involved, but there is nothing quite like the feeling of hopelessness that comes from watching your child go through the same thing you are going through.

Fortunately, there is hope. You are not alone. There are people who have been through what you are going through and have come out with happy, well-adjusted children who understand how much you love them because you have weathered a storm together.

Here are a few things, that can help you and your kids get to a healthy place overcoming emotional abuse faster:

1. Take your kids to bed early and get complete rest

I'm not saying stay in bed and wallow, you have kids, you can't do that. What I am saying is, set a bedtime. I noticed my kids could handle their emotions about what was going on between me and their dad better on days when they had a full night's sleep.

So every night at 7:30 we started their bedtime routine. I didn't have the emotional energy to wrestle them to sleep or read to them, so I laid down next to them and let the dulcet tones of Bob Ross lull my kids to sleep. After a couple of weeks of watching their moods improve, I realized it probably worked the same for adults.

I put myself on a strict 10:30 bedtime and got my eight hours a night. I was still an emotional wreck, but with a full night's sleep, I wasn't crying in a drive thru because they were out of the ranch. 

2. Keep an open dialogue with your kids

This isn't to say you tell your child everything that is going on. You still shelter them and protect them the way a parent should. What I am saying is you give them a safe space to talk about their feelings. Their feelings are valid, even if they hurt your feelings. You have to let them know that their feelings are being heard and that they can always come to you when they are upset.

If it's too hard for you to handle while you are going through your healing, then therapy, or a trusted friend or family member could be a good tool to give them the safe space to talk about what they are experiencing. But always make sure they have a safe space to talk about what they are going through. This goes for you, too.

Make sure you have a safe space to talk about what you are going through, that isn't your children. They don't need to hear about the hell you are going through or how their other parent is trash. Words are powerful, talking about what you are going through takes away its power, and gives the power to you. Talking is healing. Just make sure it is channeled to a safe space. 

3. Cut yourself and your kids some slack

Healing isn't a linear journey. The attitude of "just do a little better each day" isn't always helpful. Yes, you should always try to do better, but you are going to have days where you are full of piss and vinegar and can take on the world, and then you are going to have days where the world feels like its ending, or you are so angry that you lash out and yell over stepping on a lego (even though you told them to pick it up eight thousand times).

You are going to have days where you aren't your best, where you aren't better than the day before, and that is okay. Respect your healing process and give yourself a break. You are healing, and you can do this tomorrow. Some days you have to feel it so that you can finally let it go. Some days you have to cry in the closet because it's the only place you can't be heard, some days you have to beat the crap out of your punching bag just to stop the anger. Some days you just have to feel it. And on those days, cut yourself some slack. 

Remember; a healthy, happy parent raises healthy, happy kids. You suffered a trauma together, but that doesn't have to define your lives. It's not the end of the story. 

kids overcoming emotional abuse

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