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My daughter, her husband and my little grand daughter have now gone back to their home in South Africa, after spending a wonderful holiday with us.  It rained for most of the time when they were here but it didn’t matter too much.  I’m sure that many mothers apart will know that it’s the little things – the incidental, funny, silly, spontaneous moments that you gather up into your internal memory chest to savour over, months and years later, when you’re in the bath or on a walk..rather than perfect days out.


Shortly after they left, I gave a talk at the MATCH (mothers who live apart from their children) AGM.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  The best thing about being in a group of mothers apart is that you can relax and be very real, without fear of judgement.  One of the things I spoke about was the common challenge most mothers apart face, the automatic response of thinking we are to blame.  For example, if your child isn’t doing well at school – you tell yourself it’s because you’re not a full time mum, if your child is fearful or anxious – it’s because you left the family home, if your adult child appears grumpy or angry – it must be because of the damage she received, growing up apart from you.  The list of our overarching responsibility for most things negative our children appear to struggle with or suffer, is endless. 


Telling ourselves it’s our fault keeps us feeling guilty, bad and sad.  It doesn’t serve anybody if we are burdened with negative feelings about ourselves.  Feeling over responsible or guilty won’t turn back the clock or make amends when they are due.  The way forward for everyone’s sake is to reality check the situation from a position of neutrality, not high emotion. Calm yourself – take time out. Assume nothing.  Ask what you could do to help your child at school, try to find out the cause of your child’s anxiety or fear, ask why she or he is appears to be grumpy.  Even if you aren’t able to help directly, separating your feelings from those of your child will help you and them.  Each of us has to find our way in the world – however hard our upbringing. No one can live our life for us and learn the lessons of life for us – and that’s true for your child too.

Sarah’s new self-help book: A Mother Apart

Support for women

Sarah specialises in counselling and training women. She helps non-resident mothers find inner peace by dealing with guilt, distress and other difficult feelings which can be experienced when living apart from their child. Her self-help book, 'A Mother Apart', published by Crown House, is available now. She also supports business women grow in confidence whilst growing their businesses. To find out more, please visit Sarah Hart's website

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