S3, E8: Helping Kids Weather Divorce with Hannah Strong

attachment styles children of divorce divorce podcast divorce programs single parent thecrazyexwivesclubpodcast Feb 28, 2024
S3, E8 of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Podcast: Helping Kids Weather Divorce with Hannah Strong

In this heartfelt episode of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club, host Erica Bennett is joined by therapist and coach Hannah Strong to delve into the impact of divorce on children. Through Hannah's expertise and personal narrative, they explore parenting strategies, discuss the importance of support in navigating co-parenting boundaries, and the psychological tools to help children thrive. Erica shares candid moments from her journey, and Hannah offers a procedural framework from her own research. Together, they emphasize self-care, understanding emotional challenges, and the resiliency of children, providing support and guidance for listeners traversing similar paths. Tune in to discover ways to foster healing, independence, and confidence in your children during challenging times.


Learn more about this week's guest: Hannah Strong

I'm Hannah, a therapist, coach and industry expert in what children need to thrive during and after their parent's separation. I am also a divorced mum of two wonderful children. 

I have pulled together my experience as a therapist, the latest science and psychology in child-development and my own personal experience to develop the proven-tools, guidance and support mums need for their children to thrive!


Get Hannah's Freebie: Seven Steps to Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce


Helping Kids Weather Divorce with Hannah Strong FULL TRANSCRIPTS

Erica Bennett [00:00:00]:
All right, you guys, this is one of those episodes that I have been so excited to record for a while because it was one of the biggest worries I had when I was going through divorce. How was this going to affect my kid? What did I need to do? Was what I was doing hurting my kid? How could I better support my kid, right? All those fears. So while I was trying to heal myself, I was also trying to make sure that this had as little impact as possible possible on my son. And today's guest is going to have an amazing chat with us all about that. It's her area of expertise, it's her passion, and it's her opportunity to help us navigate those choppy waters. So let's get started.

Erica Bennett [00:00:42]:
Welcome to The Crazy Ex-Wife's Club, a podcast dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional journey that is divorce. I'm your host, Erica. And if you're trying to figure out life after the big D, welcome to the club. Whether you're contemplating divorce or dealing with the aftermath or any of the many phases in between, the club has got you covered. Each week, you'll hear stories from women who have been in your shoes. This isn't about spilling tea on divorce details. This is about giving you the tools to take control of your own healing journey. Listen in weekly for advice, tips, and tools to help you move through each stage of the process.

Erica Bennett [00:01:22]:
Hello. Welcome back to another episode of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club. I'm your host, Erica, and today I have my guest, Hannah strong with me. Now, Hannah is a therapist. She is a coach. She is an industry expert, all about helping your child thrive through separation and divorce. You can find her online at My Thriving Child. But today we're going to talk about how we support our kids and how we alleviate some of that worry on us moms out there as we're going through separation. So welcome, Hannah. Thank you for joining me today.

Hannah Strong [00:01:57]:
Yeah, great. Thank you. I'm really excited to be here.

Erica Bennett [00:02:00]:
Yeah. So Hannah's also a fellow divorcee. She has navigated these choppy waters herself. So tell us a little bit about you.

Hannah Strong [00:02:09]:
Yeah, I'm a fellow separated mum. I've got two children. And for me, when I was divorcing, there was obviously all of the heartbreak and the healing that had to go into that, but had to do all that whilst navigating my children's heartbreak and their healing. And I had to carry them through that, and I felt really out of my depth. I used to lie awake at night full of anxiety, not knowing whether they're going to be okay, how to make sure they were going to be okay. So many worries consumed me all the time. That took me out of being a present parent and being able to be present with my kids because I had that churning, anxious tummy just there all the time. So I took a step back, obviously, I'm a therapist, and I got my head down into the research, the psychological research behind children's brain development, and then also the kind of scientific research that's been done around attachment and how divorce can affect attachment, with attachment basically being the foundation to solid mental health when we grow up.

Erica Bennett [00:03:23]:

Hannah Strong [00:03:24]:
I tried to get theory behind all of the anxieties and it helped so much. I actually ended up building my own framework for what children need in order to not just survive and be okay, but to actually thrive. And I've ended up rolling it out, of course, to my own kids, but also to hundreds of other mums who have been looking for these same answers, who have been getting up every day, trying their best, but never feeling like what they're doing is good enough.

Erica Bennett [00:03:55]:
Yeah. Because I think when I was going through the divorce, I thought okay, lots of people get divorced. I know lots of divorced adults. I've talked to some of them, they're all okay. They had their issues, but they navigated through them. Logically, I was like, this will be okay. Execution, nitty gritty details. Once you're in, it is completely different.

Erica Bennett [00:04:16]:
There's very little support or understanding on the emotional aspects, which obviously is why I started the podcast, to support somebody through the emotional healing, because there isn't a roadmap now. There is right now. We've got The Cohort, you can join the roadmap. But then again, when it comes to kids, what's the roadmap and how many of us? I think I was kind of the exception amongst my mom group because I loved self help. I was constantly reading books, I was constantly reading child development books and understanding behavior books. And I'm like the behavior guru. If you need to get down to training a behavior, I know how to get you there. And so I knew a little bit, but I still was in way over my head and still had no idea how to actually help him through it in the little details that showed up.

Hannah Strong [00:05:04]:
Yeah, it's the small things every day, like the questions they'll ask, or perhaps their behavior has just changed and they're more cross or upset than usual. And you kind of know that it's probably coming from maybe some instability or uncertainty they're feeling, but how do I deal with this kind of big behavior blow up whilst showing empathy to what they're going through, whilst setting boundaries in place of, no, it's not okay to hit but also I know you're doing that because you're feeling confused and crossed about everything that's happening in your life. There's so much. And then the questions, "oh, why aren't you and daddy together anymore? What happened? Do you love daddy? Do you hate daddy?" All of these questions that are going round in our child's head and we really want to answer them in the right way, but then we're sat with all of our own stuff and how do we not project that stuff onto our child and how do we know what our child needs to hear? And that was a hard thing for me, kind of from a psychological and scientific point of view. What does my child actually need to hear in order for them to be okay? And ultimately it comes down to attachment, that attachment piece. So I see mum and dad, or my two parents, they were attached and the thing that was holding them together was love. And they've now become unattached.

Hannah Strong [00:06:34]:
So the thing that's holding me together with both my parents is love. Can that become unattached? How does that work? This is scary. If I can become unattached from my caregivers, from kind of a prehistoric biological point of view, that means we won't survive. So we absolutely have to be attached to our caregivers. And that causes major kind of concern and upset both consciously and subconsciously for our kids. So it's really about taking it back to that really basic attachment level.

Erica Bennett [00:07:08]:
Yeah, they can't say it. One of the biggest things is that kids don't have the words for it. And so when you were like, how do I answer these questions? You can't use adult words, right? You can't use the complexity of, well, we loved each other once, but now we don't love each other now. And they're like, well, wait a second, why? What did this person do to cause this loss of love? To your point of like, now it's not safe anymore and are you going to stop loving me? And I think that brings up a lot of the testing behaviors. Right. Like, if I do this, do you still love me? If I do this, are you still going to love me? How far can I push this to see if this parent is still going to stay?

Hannah Strong [00:07:50]:
Yeah, totally. And I think so many mums are coming to me with these concerns and they're really sad. When their child's away from them, if they're coparenting, and then when their child comes back, their child's cross and angry, and they want to have that connecting time, but actually, the whole time, they're just kind of telling them off and telling them not to do things. But as you say, it's part of our children testing that boundary. Are you going to be there? Are you always going to love me? Is there anything I can do to make you not love me? I need to test that in order to make sure I'm okay and I'm secure. So it feels so hard for us. I mean, it's almost relentless sometimes, but just know that it's almost like a train going through a tunnel. You're in the tunnel at the moment.

Hannah Strong [00:08:39]:
And when your child gets to the other side of the tunnel and realizes, okay, I'm secure, they're not going to leave me. Our attachment is secure. That kind of relentless testing will come to an end.

Erica Bennett [00:08:51]:
Yeah. And I can share one example. That was the worst, right? So we were separated for two years, and then the papers are filed. Now we're divorced. And we had some issues when I was in the initial house, but when I moved to the new house, things really got stirred up because now we're in a new space, too. Sunday nights, the ex would bring my son back, and my son would come in the house, and he was happy. He would never tell me what they did there, but he would be talkative, and we'd watch tv and we'd cuddle, and we'd have dinner, and a little four year old, five year old child at that point, like, happy kid. And then I'm like, okay, it's bedtime.

Erica Bennett [00:09:28]:
And then it was like I had a demon child. And then it was all. Everything would come out, right. And so I'm sitting there, I have no idea what's going on, because he was just happy. Now he's ripping books and chucking all the folded laundry down the stairs and pulling every cushion off the couch. And I felt really helpless, like, I also had some power struggle, things going on, right? Because I couldn't talk him into stopping. I couldn't get him in control of whatever was going on. And I couldn't physically.

Erica Bennett [00:10:00]:
I didn't spank. I couldn't physically pin him down. That didn't feel good either. And I just felt really lost. And I didn't know what to do. And I used to call my ex and yell at him and be like, what did you do?

Hannah Strong [00:10:12]:
What happened? Must be your fault. He was fine before he left. Yeah, and there's all of that, and there's so much out of our control when we separate. Actually, we don't often know what they're doing when they are at their other parents house. So we don't know whether they've just got used to different boundaries or suddenly bedtime isn't such a thing there, and it's a bit more free. And then they're coming back to our house and it's like, this is totally unfair. No, I don't want to go to bed at dad's house I get to stay up and watch films or whatever it is.

Hannah Strong [00:10:46]:
So to anyone that is in that boat, just keep holding your boundaries in the same way that when children go to school, there are different boundaries. And they're fine with that because it's a different setting. As long as they know that these are the boundaries, they might try and push them a bit, but ultimately, boundaries make them feel safe. They know what's expected of them. And there is a lot of comfort in that, even though if it seems to begin with that there's not right.

Erica Bennett [00:11:13]:
And it took a while to get through it. And I think that was the biggest piece, was the consistency. Like, I was consistent. Bedtime was always the same. We had the same routine. It was, now we're eating a snack and we're laughing and eating a snack, and, okay, when the snack is done, we're brushing our teeth, and now we're getting into bed. And then it was. But what wasn't consistent is my worry and approach to it.

Erica Bennett [00:11:35]:
Right. My frustration showing up to it was, I'll just yell bigger, I'll yell louder. I will be the more powerful person. Again, the power struggle part, which, when I stopped that and I actually just went back to calm, cool, collected. These are the rules. This is how this works. I know you're upset. I see you're upset.

Erica Bennett [00:11:59]:
It's okay to be upset, but this is how it works. And that's when we could finally start to move forward.

Hannah Strong [00:12:05]:
Yeah, great. And in you doing that, your son would have felt seen by you and heard by you and understood by you and seen, heard and understood equals I'm safe. Okay. I don't need to rip books and throw the washing down the stairs in order to be seen. I'm being seen for what I'm going through and for what I need. So. Yeah, that's amazing that you did that.

Erica Bennett [00:12:29]:
Yeah. And it took a while. So here's.

Hannah Strong [00:12:34]:
I know all this stuff. I've trained in this stuff, and yet I find it really hard because we're carrying all of our own stuff. And if we talk about the analogy of a cup of tolerance, our cup is so full, and then our child is kicking off about something and it's another thing in the cup and there's not enough space for that, something's going to come out. So I know everyone always talks about self care, and make yourself a bubble bath, paint nails, but actually self care is so much more than that. It's looking at kind of our life as a whole. If we looked at it as a cup of tolerance. What's filling up your cup? Is it all the unprocessed stuff from the divorce? Is it issues you're having with coparenting? Is it work, family, friends, all of the normal stuff? And how can you put boundaries in around those things that gives you just enough tolerance left to show up and be the mum that you want to be to your children?

Erica Bennett [00:13:33]:
Yeah. Because, I mean, quite literally, he spilled water. The cup was too full. He spilled water in the kitchen on hard floors. And I lost it. And I'm like, it's water. But in the moment I could not. I was incapable of responding differently.

Erica Bennett [00:13:50]:
And afterwards, once we got it cleaned up, oh my God, the guilt and the shame and how terrible I felt because I was like, it's just water. But I couldn't handle any more messes in my life that I was so full that everything had a place and had to be clean and had to be orderly because I cannot pick up anymore and I cannot take on anymore. And I was worried for a lot of years on how that affected my son because I wasn't perfect for a lot of years. I always loved him, but my own, as you're saying, cup of tolerance was full and I was hurting and I couldn't take on anymore. And I spent a lot of time worried about what that effect was on him.

Hannah Strong [00:14:35]:
Yeah. Oh, the mum guilt. It's just horrendous, isn't it? And it's interesting because you're almost describing like a parallel process between you and your son. And this is most separated mums and their kids, both their child and them both have a full cup. So your child's cup is full. And that's why one things happen that they don't like, for example, being told to go to bed and oh, I've got so much stuff I'm keeping in, I can't take this. And that's why everything starts spilling out. But our cups full too.

Hannah Strong [00:15:08]:
And that's the final thing that goes into our cup. So then we start spilling out. It's two people whose cups are far too full. And that almost sounds a bit, like, depressing because you think, well, what do I do about that? But actually what you can do is almost literally draw a picture of a cup and fill yours up. What is in your cup? What is kind of making you feel overwhelmed? The small things and the big things. And do the same for your child. And then think, what could I take out of my cup? What could I take out of their cup? And remembering that our kids worlds are so much smaller than ours, but they still have those big feelings around it. So to them, oh, my favorite running shoes.

Hannah Strong [00:15:53]:
I've left them at dad's house and I really want to wear them to school tomorrow. This is a massive thing for me because my shoes are a really big part of my life. Were as to us, we're like, oh, my gosh, I have so many problems and that is so small. But to them, it's a huge part of their cup. And actually, how can we put certainty in place for all of the things that are really important in their world? Almost shrinking ourselves down and stepping into their shoes and thinking, what does life look like for you? What do you really care about? And how do I make sure all the things that you care about feel certain and secure and in control.

Erica Bennett [00:16:33]:
Yeah. And knowing that you're going to do your best and it's going to take some time to get it all right.

Hannah Strong [00:16:40]:
If we ever get it all right, I mean, we won't, right?

Erica Bennett [00:16:47]:
They get older, we got a whole new problem. We got middle school problems. I'm like, lord help me, can we go back to when the biggest problem was, mom, do you have energy to play with me? That was delightful. I think the other thing, too, about self care, because I'm super passionate about that as well, because on a child-free weekend and friends would be like, oh, well, go treat yourself, do a little self care, take a bath, get a massage, right? And it was almost like, if one more person tells me that I'm going to snap, because self care is so much more than that. And in those moments where I was stretched, my cup was full and his cup was full. And it's the new era of really trying to figure out the new townhouse and the new life and the new commute. I would say that there probably wasn't a ton I could take out of my cup. And that's where I leaned on resources to learn how to get my cup a little bigger, because really, I was just going to work.

Erica Bennett [00:17:42]:
I'd drive home after work and pick him up at the after-school program. We'd come home and I'd rush to make dinner and then we'd be at bedtime and we'd do the whole process over again. So I did little things, like, for a while, I did a meal service where they send you the little kit. You assemble the meals. I didn't want to think about it. I wanted a card that stood up on the counter and I knew all the groceries were there. That helped. But then I also relied on, for a very brief period of time, I made my son and I go to therapy together because I was like, look, we need to learn how to handle it.

Erica Bennett [00:18:13]:
I go, we're both struggling. The reality is we're both having a hard time and I don't know how to help you through it, and you don't know how to get through it. So let's go talk to somebody who's. That's their job. I think we went four or five times. He got some good coping skills that he would actually call on. Like, I need to sip a cold water. I'm getting angry.

Erica Bennett [00:18:32]:
I feel the angry. I need a sip of cold water or the calming jars that they make, because sometimes it's just so big and that's when we need to lean on the other support that's there.

Hannah Strong [00:18:43]:
Yeah, totally. I mean, for me, getting the right support and getting the tools, it was transformative for me. And I felt so empowered once I had them and so able to take control over my children's life and their well being. And then as a result, my well being, because I could see my children were thriving and therefore I was too, because it took that huge, heavy weight off my shoulders, because it does sit so heavy if we feel that our children are not happy. And it's interesting what you say about the techniques your son was given by therapist, because I think there's almost a lot of guilt for us mums when we feel, oh, I've got to put all these coping mechanisms in place for my child, or I'm taking them to therapy, or I'm doing these courses to try and help them, and we feel almost as if we're failing and therefore we're putting all of these kind of emergency tactics in place and, oh, I feel so sorry for my child that their parents are divorcing and they're not coping and now they're having to go to therapy and learn all these things. But actually, what we're doing in that is equipping our children for life skills that are going to serve them amazingly, not throughout just their childhood, but their adulthood. All of us, all of our children, without fail, whether their parents are divorced or not, are going to face adversity. They are going to face really hard challenges in life.

Hannah Strong [00:20:14]:
And if they haven't been equipped with this, they're not going to deal with it well.

Hannah Strong [00:20:19]:
And so what you did was exactly the right thing, and your son will be able to use those so much throughout his life. It's amazing.

Erica Bennett [00:20:26]:
Yeah. And I will even confess that when we started going, it was because we were still in that power struggle. And I need some other adult to tell him that he needed to stop doing it. Right. And so there was a portion of me that was trying to force this along to get him back to being well behaved because I just didn't know what to do anymore. But what came out of it was so much more. Right. Like, grateful for therapist who could kind of see, like, okay, mom.

Erica Bennett [00:20:55]:
Because I'd be like, aren't we going to talk through the issues? Aren't we going to talk through why he's reacting? She's like, no, we're going to read a book and we're going to play and we're going to do a game. And he got a lot out of it. And it was enough for what I needed, too, to be able to kind of adjust my mindset to be like, okay, because I love, I can't say it enough that kids act out because they're hurting. And you said it before. And what ended up happening is I ended up starting to use that with my son. There were really two things that I think changed a lot for us because he was now getting into 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, where they're starting to have some issues and kids are starting to be not as nice. Right. And so I'd be like, you know what? When people are hurting, they hurt other people.

Erica Bennett [00:21:41]:
Right. And so we started to have that sort of a language of like, when you're acting out when somebody's got a problem, it's usually because something doesn't feel good on the inside. Partnered with, I can't change how you feel. You are the only one who can choose that. You're ready to feel something different. But I will sit in it with you. I will not leave you with it, and I will help you as best I can. Right.

Erica Bennett [00:22:04]:
Because at the end of the day, I think of it, it was in regards to, I hope every child doesn't go through this, but I hope that my child's experience was normal. Does that make sense?

Hannah Strong [00:22:13]:

Erica Bennett [00:22:14]:
We had a period where he was like, I hate myself. I don't want to be here. I want to die. Which just about sent grandma over the edge, because she's like, oh, my God, he's threatening suicide. I'm like, no, hold on. He's not. There's a kid talking.  He would say things like I'm stupid.

Erica Bennett [00:22:29]:
Nobody likes me in class. I have the wrong answers. And so I would try and logically respond, you're not stupid. You're really smart. You have lots of friends. But it didn't matter because he was so committed to staying in those fields. And that's where I started to use this language of like, look, I don't believe that about you at all, but you are the only one who can choose to feel differently right now. So I'm going to sit with you.

Erica Bennett [00:22:53]:
I'm not going to leave you in and eventually he got older, and I'd be like, do you want me to sit with you, or do you want to be alone for a little bit? Want to be alone for a little bit? Okay. Then I come back and I check in. So I'm there to help support him. But it's his work. He's the one that's got to navigate through it. We can't fix it for them, which is so hard as a mom, because we want to.

Hannah Strong [00:23:13]:
It's so hard. It's so hard, isn't it? And what you've just illustrated there is actually really healthy way to show your child what relationship should be and really healthy boundaries. So we want our children to grow up to be confident and assertive and independent and have control over their own mind and their own body and their ability to pull themselves out of a slump when they get into it. And those were the tools that you were giving him, but you weren't leaving him in it. You were sat there with him, which I really like. And it reminds me of what we need to try and do for our children to help them to grow up to have healthy adult relationships. And I guess there's kind of three ways to describe different relationship types. And there's kind of interdependent, where it's like two people, and we're comfortable with being close and we're comfortable with being further away.

Hannah Strong [00:24:09]:
We know that we love each other, and we can come in and out of destin. It's fairly safe. And you were describing that relationship with your son. We feel safe and secure enough to voice to each other I want to be close. I want to be far away. And it was accepted by both of you. And then there's codependent, which is, no, I have to be here with you. No, I have to fix it.

Hannah Strong [00:24:32]:
Oh, no. And then your son tries to pull away. No, come back. Or if you start to pull away, no, come back, mum. That kind of codependent relationship. And then there's just completely independent relationship where it's. I only feel comfortable with being distant. 

Hannah Strong [00:24:48]:
No Closeness. No, it's intolerable. And you've just described that perfect weaving together of the closeness and comfortable in that and also comfortable with being my own individual person.

Erica Bennett [00:24:58]:
Yeah. And we started as I tried to fix it, I tried to be like, what do I need to do in that smothering version of it? Because I think. I don't know if it's as women or just as moms, but I think I'm a fixer. I've always been like, how can I fix it? How can I do all the things? 

Hannah Strong [00:25:12]:
It's in our nature, isn't it? We have to.

Erica Bennett [00:25:16]:
We have to. It took a while for me to feel comfortable, to let go a little bit of the control. And I use it a lot, too, when I still speak with my son, because now he's a little older. So now my words have changed, right? As they get older, the language and the labels change a little bit. But now I talk about co-creating, because before I wanted him to fall in line, I wanted him to do as I say. I wanted him to just be there, but not cause me any more work, because I was already stressed and cup was full, right? And now it's like, hey, that's the wrong approach. We're co creating in this life together. Your needs matter, my needs matter.

Erica Bennett [00:25:56]:
And that was another thing I had to work on and we're still working on - your needs matter, kid. Your needs matter. He was the peacemaker. I go, you do not need to put aside what you want or how you're feeling for the sake of everyone else. And I love that about you. You have a very kind heart and you're always worried about other people, but the worry got too big. The kids does not need to parent the parent.

Erica Bennett [00:26:19]:
And so we had to work on, hey, you got to stand up for you. Your voice matters.

Hannah Strong [00:26:25]:
Yeah. I love that.

Erica Bennett [00:26:30]:
Are you at a crossroads contemplating whether to stay or go in your marriage? It's okay to feel lost, to feel scared and even uncertain. Hey, guys, this is Erica. And I get it. I felt the same way. I was afraid to make the wrong choice. But I also knew that I wanted more. I want to invite you to join The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort. It's not just for divorced women, but it's also for those who are trying to find clarity on whether or not they should stay.

Erica Bennett [00:26:57]:
In this twelve week program, you'll be guided from confusion to clarity. We'll move you from fear to confidence. It's all about helping you identify what you want, who you are and how you want to thrive. Moving forward, it's time to capture what you truly want in life. So join us on this transformational journey. Visit www.thecrazyexwivesclub.com because your path forward starts here.

Hannah Strong [00:27:27]:
There's so many things that you're talking about that's showing your son what a healthy relationship is for when he is an adult. And I think one of our big sort of mum worries when we separate is if we aren't in a healthy relationship ourselves or our relationship wasn't healthy before, how is my child ever going to know what a healthy adult relationship looks like and how are they going to grow up to find the love that I really want them to have? And it's through things like that. It's through our relationship with them. It's through mutual respect and working together as a team and us as mums picking up on what dynamics are going on with them. For example, you said your son becoming more people pleasing. Okay. You picked that up and you brought it into the room and you're working on it together.

Hannah Strong [00:28:17]:
That's relationship and that's love. And if he's able to do that for a partner in the future and he's able to have a partner that does that for him and he knows that's what he should expect to be done for him, then that's beautiful.

Erica Bennett [00:28:32]:
Yeah. And another area that that really showed up and I felt a lot of pressure on was when I was newly divorced and again two years after separation. We had been separated for a long time. When I finally decided I was done. Finally decided, okay, I'm going to try this dating thing, right? And I started traveling a little bit more. I got a lot of pushback that I was being a bad mom, that I wasn't prioritizing my son, that how dare I leave on a trip because as I'm building this new life, I better not forget about my kid at home. And I think that, to be honest, it was cruel.

Erica Bennett [00:29:10]:
I think that it's uncalled for because you have an adult who is trying to figure out who they are again. And I wasn't leaving my child unsafe. He was looking forward to the relative who was coming to spend time with him. And it was not a lot. It was not a lot. He never met anybody I dated until only a year ago. So we're talking like, these were never lines that got crossed. 

Erica Bennett [00:29:40]:
What I told that person that told me that is, I said," you know what? The best thing I can do for my son is show him that you can be happy again. And the best mom that he will have is a happy mom." So when I can work on me and if that means that I need to go escape to the mountains for a long weekend, if that means that I need to go away for a couple of days, but when I come back, I have healed a piece of me that was broken, that is far more valuable.

Hannah Strong [00:30:09]:
Yeah. Oh, my gosh. I completely agree. And actually, no one's saying that to the dad. Oh, long weekend playing golf, not being number one dad. No one's saying that. I think it's just this cultural message of the mum has to be the martyr and absolutely lay herself down for her children. But that is a fundamentally broken way to look at how you should be a mum.

Hannah Strong [00:30:35]:
That is not showing your child how to thrive. And our children absolutely don't do what we say they do what we do. So we have to live in the way or aim to live in the way that we want them to live. Yeah, I totally get all of that cultural criticism that's out there. It's heavy. And when that comes, and sometimes it can be cultural stuff or sometimes it can be very direct, like friends and family saying it to us and that's hard, then we've got to try and tap into our truth. Okay, do I actually think that's true? Because so many times it's easy for people to tell us what they think and then we go into a state of almost confusion. Oh, are they right? Am I being an awful mum? I mean, I've already got so much mum guilt, so maybe that is because I'm an awful mum.

Hannah Strong [00:31:26]:
It's a downward spiral. So being strong and able to tap into our truth and. No, actually, I need this for me. And this is going to make me a better mum and a better person and stronger and more resilient and happier. I need to do it and that's okay. And I'm going to do it but, yeah, it's tough

Erica Bennett [00:31:44]:
Everybody's got an opinion on it and you already got enough opinions in your head. You don't need those other ones running around. Is there any other advice you would really leave the mums with as they're sitting in this unknown? I can tell you that from my side. My statement would be that the worry about my son felt all encompassing and very big in the moment. And one day at a time we moved forward. As long as I didn't give up, that I continued to be like, I can figure this out, that my job is to figure out how best to support my son, not to fix him, not to change him, but how can I be the best support for him? And that enabled me to stop trying to control how he was acting and instead take on the like, yeah, this is extra. Your friends aren't having to deal with this, but you are and you're going to get through it. Do you have any other tips or things if they're in throes of it?

Hannah Strong [00:32:46]:
The interesting thing that you kind of touched on there is the how, like, how do I support my son through this? How do I do this? How am I going to just put one step in front of the other type thing? And the how is the uncertainty, the thing that we don't know. We're not sure how to do it or what to do, but we know we need to do something. And there are so many scientific studies that show the biggest cause of anxiety and depression is uncertainty. So to get ourselves out of that anxiety, out of that slump, to start moving forward, start to create certainty, and you can do that by getting yourself the tools that you need to heal the support that you need to heal the tools that you need to support your children. So you're not muddling through. Just thinking, I'm trying my hardest, but I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. You've still got that whole weight of uncertainty. Get yourself the proper guidance from professionals so you just know you're on the right track.

Hannah Strong [00:33:45]:
And just lifting that uncertainty and knowing that the steps that you're putting one in front of the other are actually going in the right direction will alleviate so much of that heaviness. I've got a free guide that I would love to share with your listeners. I'll send you a link to pop in the show notes. But it's kind of seven key steps that mums need to know in order to support their children in the best way through divorce. And it's a really kind of basic and easy workbook to work through, maybe just in an evening. And the aim of it is to take some of that uncertainty off your shoulders and to create a bit of a roadmap so you can start to take one step at a time.

Erica Bennett [00:34:31]:
Yeah, I love that. So, you guys, the link to get Hannah's download will be in the show notes. It'll also be on the www.crazyexwivesclub.com under episodes where you can read the full transcripts so that you guys can get that. She also has other programs and support, so her social handles. How you can find her is also in both of those places, so that if you are feeling stuck, you can reach out. Because the reality is that depending on the age of your child, depending on the state of your separation and divorce, there's a whole lot of different specifics. So we could go into an hour, probably we can go into multiple hours on each age of child. So if you're like, well, that would never work for me, I would just suggest reaching out.

Erica Bennett [00:35:15]:
And again, it's about finding the right fit. So one therapist is not created equal. So find the one that works for you. Find the one that has the right dynamic for you and your kids. Just because they have a degree doesn't mean that they're the one that your kid's going to listen to, that you're going to like, totally.

Hannah Strong [00:35:33]:
Therapy is relational. It's got to have that relational click there.

Erica Bennett [00:35:39]:
Yeah. Even though I had my son go to therapy, I would say the other thing, too, is I don't believe that therapy is necessarily mandatory for kids, because I think therapy, a lot of time is talk therapy. If you can go and you can learn how to help your child through it, what games do you need to play? Or how do you have these conversations in language that your kid is familiar with, can understand? You can be that person. It doesn't have to be outsourced to somebody else. And the biggest thing I would pose with is like, kids are resilient. When I was going through it, I really felt, oh, my gosh, this is going to rock him forever. What is this going to do long term? And we forget that when you're little, you're so in the moment at that point, you're not thinking about the past, and you're not worried about the future. You're just present in the moment in kind of what's happened right around that time.

Erica Bennett [00:36:36]:
So the more you can stay present in the moment, the more you can stop bringing up the old worries and the fears or projecting out into the future of how this is going to impact this kid. The more present you can be with them, then the more they're going to process through those feelings and move through them quickly. My son moves through his feelings faster than I can. He was laughing the other day. He'd telling me something, and I was like, does that make you sad? And he's like, no, does it make you sad? And I was like, yeah, I kind of want to cry. And he's like, yeah, you cry about everything. He's like, you cried when Tony Stark died, mom. You cry about everything. And so kids just, they move through them faster.

Erica Bennett [00:37:15]:
They're big and they're overwhelming feeling, and if you can sit in the muck with them and hold space, they will process through it and it will be gone just as quickly as it showed up. So do you have anything you want to add to that?

Hannah Strong [00:37:29]:
One thing that mums say to me over and over again is, but how do I sit in it? How do I sit in this grief that I see my child feeling and not fix and not jump in and it's just too overwhelming, especially when I'm feeling that grief, too. And I just want my child to be okay. And I kind of talk about this analogy where if our child is on a train, on some train tracks and it's coming up to a tunnel, that tunnel represents these really difficult feelings of grief and confusion and all sorts of other things that your child has to go through. But on the other side, they're going to be okay. A lot of parents fall into the trap of when they see their child approaching this tunnel and they're in the tunnel and their child's feeling horrible and they're sad and they're upset. They open escape door out the side and they say, oh, here, let's watch a film, like some sort of distraction. Here, here, have a treat. Oh, let's just go and buy you a toy because it's so unbearable for us to just sit seeing our child in pain.

Hannah Strong [00:38:38]:
And I totally get it. I just want to scoop my son up whenever he feels that deep sadness or is questioning different things. And, yeah, I just want to scoop him up and be like, oh, it'll be okay. Here, look, let's go and get your favorite food and have a snuggle on the sofa, rather than just sitting there and letting him process that emotion and being there to comfort him and to hold him, but allow his body to process that and that also, I teach that quite a lot in my course and actually mechanisms you can put into place. So when you feel like opening that escape door, no, I'm going to keep it there. How do I stay present with my child? How do I support them through. How do I myself not feel overwhelmed in my need to fix them? And also in doing that, teaching your child that negative feelings come to an end. It isn't the end of the world when I feel horrendous and it doesn't get them into kind of negative cycles of, I don't know, comfort eating.

Hannah Strong [00:39:38]:
Like, oh, I feel awful, let's comfort eat. I feel awful. But I know tomorrow I'll probably actually feel okay because I've been through this so many times, which again, is setting our children up for just a really good level of mental health later in life.

Erica Bennett [00:39:55]:
I love that. And that is such a good connection because that's what adults are running from. Adults don't want to face the feelings in their divorce. Right? How often do we just stay really busy, really avoidant? Oh, it's fine not dealing with it. And now you're being asked to show up and hold the space. And it does hurt, but you can get through it. And what's key to getting through it is having the right support. So two shout outs I want to give is that one.

Erica Bennett [00:40:23]:
Again, you can find Hannah at my thriving child, but she has a program specific to this. Specific to helping guide your child through divorce. Talking about divorce and co parenting boundaries and specifics to that part. Your healing. Your healing. You need to get in the group program. The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort. So that is the twelve week transformation.

Erica Bennett [00:40:49]:
It's community support. You're in a small group. You're in with a group of 15 other women so that you're creating community. They're going through the same thing. They understand what you're feeling and they've had some experience. Because I think that there was nothing more frustrating than feeling really lost and feeling uncertain and then reaching out to another friend, like another mom friend or just another friend, and telling them what my problem was. And they were giving the best advice they could, but because they hadn't walked in these shoes, they didn't really understand the nuances. Yeah, they didn't get it. There was all these nuances of, well, why would you do that? 

Erica Bennett [00:41:27]:
Or I don't understand. And so you have support. If you're looking for your healing support, so you can better hold the space. The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort that helps you line up to what you want, define who you are, and thrive in your new normal. If you really need the nitty gritty help on the co parenting, the child aspect of it, Hannah has an amazing program. So all of that info is on the www.crazyexwivesclub.com. Under episodes, where you can read the full transcripts from today. Thank you, Hannah, for joining us.

Erica Bennett [00:41:56]:
This was such a beautiful conversation. I hope for all those mamas listening out there you feel supported. And my ask or recommendation for you is take some time this week to just be present with your kids. Put the phone away. Leave it in another room. Don't even have it close. Put some music on so there's something in the background that's not tv that you're going to zone out on and just be there. Watch them, talk to them, play with them.

Erica Bennett [00:42:24]:
Sometimes just sit in silence until they're ready to talk. But go find yourself a present moment with your kiddos. And until next week, take care. 

Erica Bennett [00:42:36]:
And that's it. Another great episode of the Crazy Ex Wives Club, a podcast for women learning how to heal from their divorce. Tune in next week for more advice and tips to help you figure out life after divorce. And until then, give yourself grace. Do the best you can and know that this is all part of the process.


Learn more about navigating the emotional journey of divorce and all that comes with it.

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.