Counselling for loss in parenting

Therapy for loss in parenting with Yvonne, Daisy Vision Counselling

Counselling for loss in parenting is something that I’m not aware of specifically being targeted within counselling, but feel that a lot of people would benefit from, if it was on offer. I know that in time, even those that struggle with these losses do find a way of coping, but still believe having therapy could help address losses at the time.

There are key stages in parenting that cause us to grieve, often silently, and even not daring to admit it to ourselves are:

- returning to work after maternity leave

- children starting nursery or school

- children leaving home


Returning to work after maternity leave:

Although I did not have to experience this loss, in the same way as many mums do, I have observed this loss, as my daughter returned to work after having her first baby. I’ve been able to be there for her, to talk to, helping her to come to terms with this loss.

For months, she dreaded the day coming when she would be parted from her little boy, (despite loving her job), having to leave him in someone else’s care, when she’d always been his main care-giver. Not only was it an emotional drain for her to leave him, but then the anxiety played a big role in her struggle, as she worried about how he’d cope without her.

Then, there’s the guilt, as a Mum wanting to provide the best parenting for her child, and deep-down believing it would be achieved by staying at home with him, but on the other hand, knowing she couldn’t pay the bills unless she went back to work.

I realise that the loss of role as a full-time parent is a hard one to come to terms with, and is often forced upon us these days, in order to afford to be parents and provide for our family.


Children starting nursery or school:

Before I became a counsellor I was a teacher and spent many years working in reception and nursery classes – I often found myself needing to reassure parents, particularly the mums, that once they’ve left their child in class, their child would be quite happy and enjoy their day, whilst knowing that it’s the parent that may not be able to cope. I was very conscious that the lingering that took place each morning was often not because the child needed it, but the parent.

I also remember, as a Mum, what a wrench it can be, when you have to leave you crying child at school. You feel like you’re the only one that can console your child, and up to that point, this may be true. But, you’re being told that they’ll be fine if you just leave. Although the teacher is well-meaning, and this has to be done from their perspective, for the sake of the child, it leaves you feeling a sense of rejection. I can still remember that lonely walk home, particularly when my youngest started school, worrying all the way, that she may be screaming the place down because I’d left her. When you got the call from the school to say she was fine now and had settled down happily, although relieved, for her, there was still as sense of not being needed any longer.

I know what it’s like to be holding back the tears as you begin to grieve this very real loss, in an empty house, with your sense of purpose having being taken away, at least temporarily.


Children leaving home or going to uni:

This is form of loss that more people talk about, than those mentioned above, but we still feel we have to cope with in private, as if it’s not really a problem at all.

In my case, I really felt it each time one of our children left home, although my husband seemed to take it more in his stride, and saw it as giving us more freedom to enjoy life without the kids being around.

However, he did see the pain I felt when our third, and youngest child, left, this being a more severe feeling of loss than to the others. When she went to uni, he was very understanding, and seeing how I was struggling took me away for a few days, to help me to see the new opportunities to enjoy life that arose out of this ‘loss’.

I can remember sitting on the beach talking about missing our daughter, and feeling like I didn’t have the same role any longer, as a mother. However, I could also see that our marriage could have a new lease of life, as I had more time to concentrate on ‘us’. It is true, that reframing, seeing things from a different perspective, did really help, and we had a wonderful time despite my loss. It helped me find a new sense of purpose.


You may have a different experience to mine as you children leave home – you may be on your own, as a single parent and so feel acute loneliness, rattling around in an empty house. However, I believe that counselling could help you, giving you opportunity to talk to someone who will understand, have compassion and show empathy as you work through your loss.


If you would like to talk to me about therapy for losses associated with parenting, you can ring me on 07726 465229 or email [email protected].