How well you and your children adjust to life post-divorce is not just a matter of your inner-strength. A lot depends upon your support network.
Unfortunately, social circles and family ties can suffer in the wake of a breakup. So who can you turn to?
Those you have grown accustomed to leaning on may not be there for you. Often, people side with one spouse over the other. Some friends may be uncomfortable socializing with a single-parent family. And if you are forced to move, no matter how near, the distance may make it tough to maintain previous relationships. A new neighborhood could mean living among strangers. And, perhaps, in the aftermath of your split you don't have the time or energy needed to form new bonds.
Most of us are trained to be self-reliant. But seeking help from relatives, friends or professionals simply means that you can't expect to have all the answers. It is a positive step toward taking care of yourself and your children. Here are some ways you can build a support system, even when it feels as though you're all alone.
Get involved. Make a special effort to put yourself and your children in the middle social, recreational and educational activities. If people seem too busy to get to know you, don't give up. Soon you and child will find people who share your interests and who are interested in forging friendships.
Renew contact. Do you miss some of your old friends? They might be waiting for you to make the first move. If the divorce has left you feeling cut off emotionally from friends and relatives, make an extra effort to get in touch with them. Let them know that you want to maintain the relationships and are willing to forget any ill feelings or discomfort caused by your separation or divorce.
Help others. Can you give a neighbor's child a ride to softball practice? Can you cat sit? You will gain personal satisfaction and be more likely to enjoy favors from others if you reach out and offer to help them.
Share child-care. Consider joining a baby-sitting cooperative. If there isn't one available try starting one in your neighborhood. You and your child will have an opportunity to become close to other people and you will have another option for child care.
Explore singles' options. Pursue a personal interest and enjoy the company of people who share those interests. Don't concern yourself with finding Mr. or Ms. "Right." Some singles' organizations also offer activities for families. These events are a good way for kids to meet peers from single-parent homes — something that is especially important if you are new to an area.
Look for variety. Don't' expect to find all the things you like in one person. Different relationships will have different purposes. One friend might be good for playing tennis, another for dinner and a third for sharing intimate feelings.
Remember, you are in control. You should feel free to encourage the relationships you enjoy as well as discourage those you don't. You have the power to decide who gets close to you and who doesn't. Try not to be disheartened if your efforts do not succeed immediately. Keep trying!
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