Thursday, February 4, 2010

Divorced Dads Who Disappear

Has the father of your child been out of his or her life temporarily or on a long term basis since your divorce ? If so,you and the child have double the problems to deal with. Children can feel abandoned after divorce even when both parents are still in their life. They often feel that divorce had something to do with them,and that they are at fault somehow.

If these are the normal reactions of children to divorce,imagine how a child feels when one of their parents is truly absent, temporarily or on a long term basis. They will experience double the pain, sadness and feelings of abandonment that comes with divorce.

You can help mitigate these feelings by reassuring them that the other parent loves them, even though they are not in contact. You can also reassure them that it isn't their fault, and also let them know that you don't know why their dad is not calling or seeing them. Even if you know the reason, don't tell them. Children need to love both parents, and anything you say that puts the parent in an unfavorable light can be harmful to their self esteem.

Here are some things you can do to help your child cope with the feelings connected with this. Encourage him or her to write letters (with your help)telling dad they miss him, including a brief description of what's going on in their life. Even though they may not get a response, it will give the child a feeling of connecting with dad, even though temporarily. If dad has an email address, encourage them to communicate that way.

I would also suggest that you email, write or call dad to learn if there is some way to work around the issue of why they are not seeing the child. They may have some lingering anger or pain connected with the divorce that makes it difficult for them to be in contact with you when they pick up the child.

If so, you might arrange for a trusted third party to be a go-between, picking up the child and dropping them off at dad's house. Another possible reason for the problem may be dad's new romantic interest, or second wife who may have some jealousy issues. That may sound trite, but it happens. In fact, it happened to me.

If you call or email dad, offer to send him a schedule of the child's school or sport activities. When you talk with him, try to be as business-like as possible. This will help you avoid falling into a guilt trip or expressing your anger about them being absent.

Divorced parents who are not on good terms can often attend their child's activities (when held in an auditorium or gym) with a relative degree of anonymity. There are lots of people there, and dad can come and go without having to talk to you.

One of the issues you may have to deal with is your own anger at dad for not maintaining the relationship. It hurts when you see your child suffering, and it's a natural response to want to protect your child. Get support for yourself. Talk to a close friend or family member, or get counseling.Another possibility that could help your child is Big Brothers/Big Sisters, an organization that provides adult friendship and support for children of the same gender.

If dad has been absent for long periods of time, find a good family counselor who can help you and your child cope with this problem. The more support and reassurance you can give your child,they better they can adjust to this situation without lasting scars.