Friday, January 1, 2010

Ways to Help Your Children Heal

How can we help our children heal from abuse? As much as we would like to, we cannot wave a magic wand and fix all the broken places in their spirits. Abuse hurts everyone in the family. If we separate from the abuser and focus on healing for ourselves and our children--we have made a huge, positive impact on our children's futures. But there is much more we can do, if we focus on helping ourselves and our children to heal. Not just survive--but heal.

1. Ask God to heal you and your children. Too often we forget to ask, but without God's help nothing of lasting value is possible. God alone knows every hurting place in each child.

2. Resolve to create an abuse-free home. Resolve to never live in denial again. Both things will take effort, but the rewards will be invaluable.

2. Find counseling for you and your children. Don't let lack of money deter your search. There are counselors who give reduced fees. Ask for contacts from your church and from your county health department.

3. Trust your children's pacing. Allow them to initiate conversations about their other parent. Focus on listening. What is your child feeling or wondering? Respond simply and briefly.

4. Tell the truth in simple, calm language and tone when your child wants to know why you and the other parent are separated or divorced. Be trustworthy.

5. Keep as much routine in your life as you can. It will help the children feel more secure.

6. Do not drop discipline. Yes, the children have gone through a lot, but they need reasonable boundaries to feel secure and loved.

7. Create fun times with your children. It will lift all of your spirits and help relieve some of the stress. Try being silly now and then. An upside down dinner (dessert first) or a race across the park or playing follow the goofy leader can generate laughter that is much needed.

8. If you are divorced, don't date anyone for at least a year. Such a stand is not common these days but it could save you and your children from a lot of grief. Your children need some undivided attention from you. And you need time to heal enough to become attracted to non-abusers.

9. Pay attention to the quality of any daycare you need to use. Be picky. Your children don't need any more neglect or abuse. If something isn't right, confront the daycare provider and if that doesn't resolve the problem, look for new daycare.

10. Seek God's help in forgiving your abuser and yourself. Letting go of bitterness will go a long way toward creating a healing environment. I do not mean a quickie forgiveness that is ultimately artificial. Dig into real forgiveness that is grounded in truth about the wounds inflicted and the need we all have for a Savior. God can help you forgive at the best pace. All you need to do is to be honest and to reach a place of sincere surrender to the need for forgiveness.

11. Learn to take care of your own needs. You can't help your children if you are constantly overwhelmed and burnt out. Your abuser taught you that your needs were unimportant, but that is simply not true. Simple measures can make such a difference--ask the neighbors to watch the children and go on a walk, hike, or run, draw a warm bath and light a candle, or postpone a decision until after you've had a chance to calm down or to seek wise counsel. You bless your children when you treat yourself with respect and loving care. You're modeling healthy ways and teaching them that they too can voice their own needs.

It is not too late to help your children heal. Your children need you. Be present. Your actions will speak straight into their hearts, so show your love by treating them in loving and respectful ways. God will show you the way, just lean on Him and follow Him.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft