Boost Your Self-Confidence:

12 Tips And Tool For Life’s Challenges

COPMI

Children of Parents with Mental Illness

Promoting better outcomes for children and
families where a parent experiences mental illness

It is essential to engage in self-care practices to help maintain your physical and emotional health. This is like putting on a life vest when you’re on a sinking ship. Looking after your emotional health is crucial to help you on the journey that is ahead of you and help you connect with your child by keeping you in a healthy frame of mind.


  • Join a support group where you can relate to others in your position and/or see a psychologist that can give you tools to cope with your situation and therapy based on what you are experiencing. (Our organisation runs a Facebook support group for Australian based parents. You can private message the Facebook page to join.)


  • Introducing mindfulness techniques into your daily routine will help you keep a balance with your thoughts.

  • Exercise daily, get outdoors in the fresh air and make sure you get up and move around especially if you find yourself sitting for long periods of time. Check your posture. Adopting an upright-seated posture in the face of stress can help maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture.


  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. Keep yourself well hydrated and drink plenty of filtered water. Avoid drinking alcohol where possible. Any amount you drink can make you more likely to get the blues. Drinking a lot can harm your brain and lead to depression. When you drink too much, you're more likely to make bad decisions or act on impulse.


Understand what parental alienation is and its consequences.


Establish Healthy Boundaries


Setting healthy boundaries involves taking care of yourself and knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want. It also involves:

(1) going inside of yourself to figure out what you feel and then

(2) clearly communicating that with the other person.

Be aware that any hurtful or negative comments your child makes about you are not necessarily an accurate reflection of their truly held feelings and thoughts.

Be honest with yourself and with professionals. In high conflict separations often both parties have contributed in some way to the current situation but on different scales. Accept responsibility for any past unhelpful behaviour. Children are more likely to be drawn to someone who displays contrition and humility rather than someone who is denying unhelpful choices, is arrogant or is defensive.

Communicating with your Child

  • Be patient and calm. Learn to appreciate the “crumbs” of communications from your child. Here is a helpful guide to teenagers and communications if your child is a teenager.


  • Avoid emotion-laden communication with your child. Understand your child is in a difficult position; often they have no tools to cope with the situation and no external support. Alienated children lose their ability to use critical thinking when they are under emotional pressure of a parent, so it’s important not to add to the situation by making them feel guilty or they will retract even more.

  • Understand that alienated children find it difficult to put down healthy boundaries with an alienating parent they are trying to please and feel sorry for. Especially if that parent is anxious, angry or sad.

  • In communications stay focused on your child, not yourself. Never direct your anger or frustrations on your child and never talk bad about the other parent. Always speak politely about the other parent. Acknowledge your child’s feelings but don’t get into heated debates of he said she said. This will make the situation worse.


  • Do not discuss your legal proceedings in front of your children. Do not show them legal documents, child support statements or discuss adult finances.

  • Asking your child questions about their interests, their friendships, hobbies, sports, their achievements, school holiday plans or their careers, these are safe topics. You could ask them to share photos or tell you about their projects at school. Or talk about some of the fun things you have done in the past together and ask them if they would like to see a photo of that memory if you have one.

  • Try to relax on the authority parenting questions if your child is being hostile towards you. This will only inflame the situation and create more conflict. It is important to put down healthy boundaries if your child is being disrespectful but don’t get into heavy arguments or get angry. Always stay calm. Focus on uplifting conversations or conversations as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

  • Create an environment for your child where they can think and feel for themselves when they are with you or talking with you. A place where there is no pressure.

  • Never talk bad about your child’s other parent. Children in loyalty conflict situations are very protective of the parent they have aligned to.

  • Reassure your child that you love him/her that you are both still their parents and you both love them. Make it clear they don’t have to choose between you. Avoid smothering or being overly affectionate, especially when it is not invited. Not a good idea to buy excessive gifts as the other parent will say you are trying to buy their love. If you make promises and arrangements, stick to them.

  • Do not try to educate your child about “parental alienation”. Alienated children are very protective of the alienating parent. Often alienating parents will turn it against the targeted parent and allege the targeted parent alienates them or talks bad about them. This is called “projection.”


Here is a link to a Co-Parenting article written by Amanda Sillars, the founding Director of Eeny Meeny Miney Mo. It is focused on preventing parental alienation.


There are often days where you might feel like you cannot cope. Remember that your child needs you and you need to stay healthy minded. The situation can change but you need to be ready.

Communicating with the other parent

Remember your behaviour, including your words spoken and written which includes your texts, emails, Facebook and so on, can be used against you by the other parent and submitted as evidence in court. Always speak calmly, speak assertively and never lose your temper.


BIFF Response(R) Method by Bill Eddy, is a helpful book that will help you respond to hostile emails, texts and other communications and make you feel good doing it!

How you present

Remind yourself how important it is to keep healthy minded, positive and uplifting. Your child will not be attracted to someone who is no longer caring for themselves, bitter, angry and broken. Alienated children are very protective of the alienating parent so don't get into the blame game. Avoid comments like “your dad/mum won’t let you” or “your mum/dad say’s I am a bad person” and so on.


Would your child be attracted to you if you are angry, bitter, broken or not looking after yourself? Or would your child be attracted to someone who is healthy, loving, full of life, interested in them, uplifting and focused on moving forward. So if your struggling, right now is the best time to take action and look after you.

Be the best parent you can be and do your best to rise above the situation and be a positive role model. You have got this.

On-going conflict has a major impact on children, parents and extended family. When a child sees or hears a parent being hurt verbally, emotionally or physically it is similar to children being hurt themselves.

Seek legal advice from a lawyer as soon as you can. Don’t put it off, as the wait times for family court are very lengthy.

Documenting your case


  • It is important that you paint the picture as best as you can. The difficulty you often face as an alienated parent is that they tend to repaint history as being all bad.

  • Keep a diary of events, attempts to have contact, notations about times you have contacted their school (if you are permitted to do so), interest in medical issues, extra-curricular activities and so on.

  • If orders are in place make sure you follow them and ensure you meet your child support obligations.

  • If it is ordered that you take courses or therapy, make sure you get enrolled asap or make the appointments as wait periods can be lengthy. Make sure they are by reputable or court appointed experts or professionals.


The most important thing to remember is Never Give Up. You are important, your child needs you to look after you, so you can be there for them.


If you are finding it hard to cope with the conflict or breakdown in your relationship with your child or you have suicidal thoughts please seek help immediately. The better you cope, the better you are able to help yourself and your children.


Lifeline (Australia) 13 11 14 or in an emergency dial 000.


Here are lists to Beyond Blue for more support lines and websites.


​And visit Head to Head for mental health services and more resources.

Head to Health

Australia has great mental health services and resources, but it can be tough finding the ones that suit you best. They have made your search easier by hand-picking resources from publicly funded providers.

SUPPORT


Parents Beyond Breakup   Australia wide
Relationships Australia      Australia wide
Dad’s Landing Pad            Perth, WA


Australian ONLINE support contact our

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation

​Facebook page.

USEFUL LINKS:

Family Relationship Advice Line call  1800 050 321

Monday to Friday - 8 am to 8 pm

Saturday - 10 am to 4 pm (local time), except national public holidays.
International callers: +61 7 3423 6878


The Family Relationship Advice Line is a national telephone service established to assist families affected by relationship or separation issues.
The Advice Line provides information on family relationship issues and advice on parenting arrangements after separation. It can also refer callers to local services that can provide assistance.
The Advice Line compliments the information and services offered by Family Relationship Centres. It ensures that people who are not able to attend a Centre can be helped.

IMMEDIATE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Beyond Blue - All calls and chats are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional, and completely confidential.

Support, Advice, Action

Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

1300 22 4636

Suicide & Crisis Support

LIFELINE 13 11 14

HELP FOR PARENTS