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Self Care | Coping During the Holidays | The Rejected Parent Newsletter

This newsletter is for parents who are being rejected by their children and those who support them. I will be sending regular newsletters to give suggestions and support to parents dealing with rejection from their children on all levels. I generally support parents whose children are 18 years and under; however, some of this will apply to parents with adult children as well.

Hello Reader,

This newsletter is part of the Coping During the Holidays series. Being without your child during this time of year makes it harder than usual. You have memories of spending special time with your child and all of the traditions you used to enjoy during winter break. Now you have an empty home, or someone is missing from your life right now.

Working with parents over the years, this time of year has been an especially tough time for them to cope with not having their child around. Family vacations are interrupted or canceled. For those who celebrate Christmas, opening presents on Christmas morning is different without a child there. It feels like everything is turned upside down, and you are missing an important opportunity in your child’s life to create new memories.

Another struggle I have noticed over the years is when the courts are closed, or the parents’ attorneys take time off: co-parents can take advantage of this “unprotected time.” If you were scheduled to see your child during winter break, your co-parent may not allow it, and there’s no one there to back you up. On a smaller scale, this is similar to what I witnessed over the pandemic when the courts shut down for months. It’s unfair that your time with your child is being taken from you. And feelings of hopelessness or helplessness when your co-parents go against an agreed-upon schedule make it worse.

If you are feeling sad and lonely because you aren’t able to spend as much time with your child during this season, you are not alone. When situations are out of your control, there is only one thing you can do to help yourself get through this period: take care of yourself. During times when you want to see your child but cannot, focusing on yourself may help you. By taking care of yourself right now, you may:

  • Experience a sense of peace.

  • Think creatively about ways to reach out to your child in the future.

  • Give yourself time to reconnect with your family or friends.

  • Reduce stress by stepping back from the situation for a while.

Taking a mental and physical break from any issue that causes stress is beneficial. It doesn’t mean you are ignoring it but rather putting it on a shelf until you want to deal with it again. The result can give your brain a little vacation or respite from all the negative emotions it was processing.

Some ways that you can encourage your brain to take a break are self-care techniques. Self-care is all over the internet, and those resources can help you find types that would best fit you. I will list some of my go-to favorites that have worked for me and my clients over the years:

  • Clear your mind: Find a meditative “app” to help you with relaxing breaths and visualizing, like Just 5 to 15 minutes daily can take the edge off stress. Try an exercise when you wake up to set the mood for your day. Taking a few minutes, focusing on your breathing, and releasing muscle tightness mid-day could also refresh your energy. And, of course, before bed, it may result in a more peaceful sleep.

  • Move your body: There are so many ways to do gentle movements for your body to increase blood flow and create relaxation:

    • Gentle yoga or basic leg and arm stretches (if medically allowed). Trying an app can make this a mindless activity like​

    • Walking around your block for 10-15 minutes.

    • If you can’t get outside, you can do this in your home instead:

  • Focusing on tasks that don’t take a lot of thought and concentrate on the texture, sound, or smells while doing those tasks:

    • Coloring mindfully.

    • Crafts, sewing, or baking.

    • Woodworking.

    • Painting, watercolors, or paint-by-numbers.

    • Gardening.

  • Being in nature like a park, beach, or mountain and taking in all of the sounds and smells of that place.

    • Feel the sun's warmth on your skin or perhaps a breeze or mist on your face.

    • Listen to birds or other nature sounds.

    • Observe the patterns of trees and their branches or the rhythm of the water as it laps across the shore of a lake or beach.

    • Notice the footprints on the ground or the colors of the flowers or seaweed.

  • Writing about how you feel can be a way to get those emotions out of your body. Consider sitting down and listing all the things that are upsetting you or causing stress, then tearing it up, shredding, or burning it (safely). Then, move into some physical activity to help release those emotions that have been bottled up. It may not make them completely disappear but at least take the edge off a little.

Taking time for yourself is so important, as it will not only be beneficial to your well-being, but it will also help you be in a calmer mental state when you can see your child again.

-Cathy Himlin


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