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Online Support for Non Resident Mums (non custodial moms)

By Mike Wilkins

Why join an online support forum?

Bird Flew is an example of an online support forum that offers people with similar problems to meet and share experiences, support and advice. The forum was set-up so that non resident mothers could talk to other women in a similar position. There is an implicit suggestion that such a resource is likely to be helpful to those who participate but you might be wondering if this applies to you?

Support forums differ in what they provide and what people may get out of them but some of the common themes can be summarised in the acronym PEACE.

Practice in coping skills and relationships

Encouragement from meeting others who have overcome challenges like your own

Acceptance by a group of people who share your feelings and experiences

Comfort from knowing that you are not alone

Empowerment through increased knowledge and confidence

Practice in skills and relationships

Non resident mums can easily become socially isolated. Many mothers feel ashamed and try to avoid situations where they might be asked questions about their family. Those who are brave enough to be honest about their circumstances may find themselves being subjected to further scrutiny and responses such as "how can any mother leave her children?". Continued withdrawal and avoidance is likely to result in lowered self-esteem and confidence. An online community provides the opportunity to interact and by doing so to hear your own voice, get reinforcement and validation from others and to be appreciated as a person in your own right.

Encouragement from meeting others who have overcome challenges like your own

Many of those participating in forums have shared similar experiences and have either overcome their problems or learned ways of managing them more effectively. Listening to helpful suggestions and possible solutions can stimulate hope where there is hopelessness. Forum members often find that other members are interested to hear how they got on in dealing with a situation and to provide support when the outcome is not the one they had hoped for.

Acceptance by a group of people who share your feelings and experiences

Acceptance and validation are very important functions of support forums. Non resident mums often feel like outcasts. They find it difficult to join in discussions with other mothers about their children as they imagine they don't have the right. They are very familiar with harsh, judgmental responses from others but are also very unkind to themselves.

Comfort from knowing that you are not alone

Even in today's supposedly tolerant and permissive society, certain social problems are still taboo. In these situations it can be very difficult to find others who share the same problems as people are often reluctant to talk openly because of stigma. If you are one of these people, it is easy to begin to feel very alone and disconnected from others in society. Online forums have the potential to bring together people from all over the world to share problems that are rare, or difficult to talk about. Just knowing that you are not alone can increase your sense of normality and provide comfort.

Empowerment through increased knowledge and confidence

Feeling empowered helps us to face difficult situations and to be our most effective. It is often the case that when we feel hopeless and powerless our reasoning and actions are emotionally driven and unhelpful. Having a better understanding, more facts and information, and encouragement when the going gets tough, all increase our chances of reaching our goals or maybe just surviving another day.

The functions described above are common across many different online support forums and especially relevant to those who have had difficulty finding other people with similar problems offline. "Bird Flew' www.birdflew.co.uk is a new website for mums who do not live with their children. The website provides forum and live chat resources for members and welcomes enquiries from those seeking the benefits that have been described.

About The Author

Mike Wilkins is a registered nurse therapist in the UK NHS. He writes articles on therapy and self help.


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