you must ...

Look after number one ...that is you, because if you go down mentally or physically you will not be able to help your children as much, in fact you may fail if you go down too much. This is very important and one of those times that it is OK to be selfish, and has to be first on your list of priorities.

If you find yourself slipping, be proactive and seek help from others like qualified councillors, lean on them, use them, you must survive and they do help. They will explain the stages you will go through and you will be able to better understand and recognise them and learn from within, more about yourself. The old saying "that which does not brake you, makes you stronger" is very true, you will come to learn that if you already have not.

Find a way to cope with the pain for now, and be assured that it does lessen with time, you may not believe that now but the day will come that you will realise it. Again, councillors can help here.

Seek legal advice as soon as you are aware of a problem, you must be correctly advised and prepared for what may get worse.

Be the parent you should be and put your children's welfare first wherever possible. This may even involve you making sacrifices that you would otherwise not..

Be more than patient as the situation may take time to correct.

Be honest with all concerned at all times, this includes councillors, solicitors, friends etc and your children wherever possible. If you are asked a difficult question regarding the situation by your children, it will not always be possible to be honest without being degrading, so be an ambassador of peace and good will and be diplomatic. It is better to say "that is grown up's business" than to offer your view of the situation which may aggravate or even cause more concern in the children's minds.

Remember at all times that it is not the fault of your children for what they are saying or doing, it is not of their own mind but what they have been programmed to say, not say, do or not do, and it is more than likely out of fear of the perpetrator, so they are in a very difficult position.

Be understanding and sensitive to this by not commenting to them on it.

Always be the shining example to and in front of your children, as one thing is for sure, the ex is not being that and the day may come when they realise it, and your effort will be rewarded.

Set sensible rules for your children as they all need firm but fair parameters under which to live at your place.It is easy to fall here as the natural thing to do in your situation is to be far too easy on them thinking that will make them like you, it won't and in fact it may lead to them not respecting you.

Take a break from it all from time to time, you will be surprised how it will refresh you.

Reassure your children that you love them but do not be overpowering.

Do all that you reasonably can to ease the situation and this may even involve giving in a bit on some contentious points with the ex. It is a must to show to whoever that you are at all times a reasonable person even under these trying circumstances, it is obvious your ex is not and this may help in court if it goes that far.

Honour all your responsibilities under any court order even if the ex does not. As painful or distasteful this may feel at times, it does go a long way to show that you are a mature and responsible person to the courts and others. It also denies the ex of an opportunity to report you for breach and to use this on the children.

Show a brave and happy face to your children at all times, they will draw positive from that.

Keep a diary of all negative things said and done by the children and the ex, in fact of any negatives at all from anyone including carers, schools etc, note dates, times, actual content in detail if possible and names and particulars of any witnesses. Ask any witnesses to record also what they saw and heard in detail but do not be annoyed if they do not want to be involved.

The diary is extremely importantwhen it comes to councillors, solicitors and the courts alike.

It is nearly impossible to remember event details some months ago as one of the things that is happening to you is that you are under stress and that may cause intermittent short term memory loss. Don't fear this as when all comes good so will your memory.

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