Duncan Elliot is a life coach working out of Basingstoke in England. He particularly works with people who feel that there must be more to life and are willing to work at it, so that they can feel happier and more in control of their life. He offers life coaching in person, on the phone or via audio or video across the Internet. Click here to contact him.
It's not easy being the father of a traumatised child. Their needs can be huge and constant. If your partner is the main carer they can have immense needs as well. But the reality is that you can't meet their needs unless you have something to give. That means that you need to look after yourself as well.
Catch the wind in your sails!
1. Don't hit overload
About a year after our adopted kids moved in I took a week's holiday. I was a great dad - so I thought. I looked after the kids a lot so that my wife could have a well-earned break and I cooked a pile of food and put it into the freezer. That would be one less thing for her to do for a while. The trouble was that I ended up even more exhausted after that week than if I hadn't had the holiday. I had even less to give after that break than I'd had before. That was a big mistake! I'd probably have been more use to the family in the long run if I'd gone out fishing or taking photos on my own.
2. Go out
I found it incredibly hard to go out and have fun, leaving my wife to pick up the pieces. I've heard this from clients that I coach, too. Having fun while you know that your wife is going through a really tough time can bring up a whole pile of guilt. I worked through that with my coach, so that I could recognise that I NEEDED to do it and could do it without guilt.
3. Keep up your hobbies
Of course there's a balance! But the balance means that you have to do some things for yourself. If there's nothing in your life that's bringing you joy, pleasure and escapism then you could be heading for big trouble.
4. Recognise your needs
It's OK to ask for your needs to be met. When my kids moved in, their needs were huge and I wrongly felt that I couldn't possibly ask my wife to meet mine as well as their's. But in a family, EVERYONE has needs and they need to be met. What are your needs? And how do you balance them? It's one of the things that I can work through with my clients.
5. Ask for help
I know: you're a man. Men don't ask for help. Asking for help, you may feel, is a sign of weakness and makes you feel vulnerable. Yes, it does. But it's better to ask for help before you get to the stage where you're collapsing without it. I know that it's not easy, but I can work through it with you.
Contact me if you want to work through the implications of these, come up with your own ideas based on your particular situation, or to give me your own ideas and comments.