Contact with babies and children can be deeply upsetting; here are some short and long-term approaches to help.
Contact with children and babies can be so painful and is so is very difficult to avoid. It is especially difficult when friends and relatives appear to be adding to their families with amazing regularity and ease. It’s natural to feel jealous, and to want to avoid friends, family or babies or gatherings where they know there will be lots of children.
For the long term, however, it can be helpful to consider whether you want contact with children and if you do so, how much. Your decision may depend on the point you have reached in your grieving process. You may still be in the initial period of raw grief where it is just too painful altogether, but in time this may change.
It is best to decide contact on your terms, so try to be open with friends and family. Tell them how painful it is, if they don’t already know. That way hopefully they won’t thrust their children on you or hide them away. They should respond to the boundaries you set.
If you do feel able to have contact with children, you can take on the role of a special ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ – building up your own relationship with the child. Think of all the things you can offer that his/her parents might not always be able to give – like time and attention. Special time with a child can be enriching for both of you and can build into a rewarding relationship that you both appreciate and value.
Some people find it a great honour to be asked to be a godparent to a child, but for others this will be too upsetting. Again, if you are as open as possible with your friends and family you can work it out between you.
If you have step-children, there are other issues. Communicate with each other and work as a team. Agree standards, how you want things to be done around the home and how the rules will be enforced. Give each other compliments. Saying thanks and showing gratitude, especially in front of the children, leads by example. It shows how important you are to each other and that you are working as a team.