This morning I led a workshop about helping children heal from separation anxiety. It felt a little ironic to me since lately I've been the one experiencing separation anxiety.
After using the Hand In Hand tools many times to help my now 8-year-old daughter heal from her own separation fears, she hardly ever experiences it any more. And that's part of my issue! Now, she is so confidently going out into the world that it's my turn to miss her!
Where Does Parental Separation Anxiety Come From?
When I was a child there was no time for tears or feelings about separation. I just had to get on with it and do the best I could because my parents just didn't know how to help me. Now, after eight long close years with my daughter, I probably feel closer to her than I ever have with anyone else, and now that we aren't together so much it's bringing up old feelings of pain and separation.
I've had some good long cries over the last few days, both on my own and with a listening partner, about how sad I am that she's growing older and growing away from me.
Why Acknowledging Feelings is Helpful
We have a regular arrangement for my daughter's friend to come for the day every Monday. Because they are both home educated, I often do some gentle learning with them, but the last time she was over both girls wanted to play lego upstairs. I didn't mind, but when I tried to make a connection with them, my daughter told me to go away. She didn't appear to want me anywhere near her!
I left them to it and went and sobbed about how much I missed our closeness.
As I always do, I felt better after crying and a little later I suggested we all do something together. This time they were both enthusiastic.
We started off making a mud face in the garden, which was part of a competition featured in her eco kids magazine, and then we did English and maths. Often, we struggle with getting maths done, but on this day my daughter was totally engaged and whizzed though it.
It reminded me again that once I've cleared my own limbic system through crying and released all of that stress, my mind is much clearer and I find myself in a much better place to connect with my daughter. What a gift!
It was so lovely to connect with her and her friend and do something fun together, and it also made me feel a lot clearer for my workshop on separation anxiety and better able to support parents going through the same thing.
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