When Your Ex Stops Visiting the Kids – 3 Steps to Ease the Heartache

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Oh, this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids.

The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? 

Tiny tears and disappointed faces.  It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Part of the anger you’re feeling is due to your kids hurting and your inability to force their absent father to act like a loving dad let alone a decent human being. It’s so easy to spout the truth about him no matter who may be listening. Forcing ourselves to remember that our stinging words only increase their hurt, break their hearts and further damage their self-esteem is challenging. 

And after a few tough lessons of my own, I quickly realized that I never want my words or actions to contribute to any pain they may feel. Especially, when they are already in so much torment and confusion as to why the dad they love, isn’t showing up and isn’t calling. The rest of your anger could be a mixture of resentment over his irresponsibility, his carefree lifestyle, maybe another girlfriend and that you just can’t believe you used to love such an unbelievable ass.

I get it.

After a long, drawn-out battle with God over this – and yes I say battle {I felt my ex deserved every horrible thing I had to say about him and felt that when he did show up, he shouldn’t be allowed to see the kids, I deserved to be angry too!}  – Jesus calmed my soul, my thoughts, my heart and my raging blood pressure.

Together, God and I developed a plan. And it worked. Not always perfect but nothing ever is. Families are messy, broken families even messier. Now that my kids have hit their college years, I can see that God knew what He was doing all those years ago.

 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” — Nahum 1:7

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Breathe

When the urge to pick up the phone, text or yell around the house about what an insensitive jerk of a dad he is, breathe. When you want to slam the phone down over and over again because he doesn’t have it in him to tell the kids himself…breathe. Then take another deep breath. And another. While you’re breathing, begin to pray by talking to God.

Involve your kids in praying with you. Saying something like – “hey, I can see that dad has disappointed you and that’s alright to feel this way. Let’s talk to God about this.”

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Pray

If you’re new to praying, just think of it as having a conversation with God. If you’re angry tell Him, if your heart is breaking or you feel like doing something horrible to your ex…tell Him. I joke about that last part but if you’ve been there then you know exactly what I’m talking about…am I right?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us that our Father is the God of all comfort. Allow Him to comfort you.

He already knows what’s on your heart, He just wants you to give it to Him. So when praying with your kids, it could start out something like this – “God, we know how much you love us and care for us. We know that you are full of forgiveness and grace Lord and right now that is not coming easy to us. We have been let down and disappointed again and again by _______, and the anger in our hearts is making it hard to think straight. Please take our anger, frustration and sadness Lord. Help us to be forgiving. We know that ______ is not showing the qualities of a father that you show Lord and we ask that you fill his heart with a burden to be a better dad, to have a closer relationship with you Lord and to change his current lifestyle. Until that time comes, I will turn to you as my source of a parental partner and a source of parental guidance and love to the kids. We love you, God. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16

Plan and Prepare

Make a plan of action prior to dad’s scheduled day or time. It helps immensely to remind your kids that dad’s behavior or lack thereof, has nothing to do with them as a person or as a son or daughter. This is an issue with their dad and right now he is struggling with knowing how to act like a dad. Remind them that their dad loves them, he just doesn’t know how to show love right now. But that through Jesus we have a loving Father who is with us always.

I know you’re thinking ‘um excuse me, I’d rather choke on those words that say anything that defends my ex’s behavior’. I know and understand because I used to think the same. And the first time I said those words, it was as if I was about to vomit after every couple of words.  Reminding myself that these difficult and challenging words were going to make a positive impact to my child’s self-esteem.

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Create a fun recipe, craft or game to make the night a win, if dad is a no-show. Just explain to them that if we don’t hear from dad, this is what we’re going to do and we’re going to have a great night. And if he does show (even if he’s super late), then we’ll do it once you return back home. I never denied my ex access to the kids. So when and if he showed up and we had nothing else to go to, then I allowed them to go and wished them all to have a great time. I learned that if I didn’t tick him off when he picked them up by yelling at him for being late, then the kids had a much better experience and outing than with a dad in a bad, angry mood.

And if a new girlfriend arrived with him, I walked out to meet her, shook her hand and told her it was very nice to meet her. More than likely your ex has told his flavor of the month what a horrible and mean woman you are and that you are the very reason he doesn’t get to see his kids. Why would he want to look like an absent father in front of someone he’s trying to impress? Maybe she’ll second guess that impression of you he put in her head. Maybe not. But that’s their problem and honestly there’s really not much you can do about it, except to pray.

You can do the same thing before a game, event, play or anything else your kids have going on. Prepare their fragile souls and hearts for why dad might no show…remember, it has nothing to do with them but dad is struggling with showing love right now.

This was helpful all through my kids’ childhood. And years later they were able to see their dad show more of an interest in them and see their prayers answered.

Oh this is a tough one sweet mom. And my heart breaks along side yours. For you and for your kids. The anger that boils to the surface when your kids’ dad goes silent for some time, regardless of court orders or promises made to innocent ears. That anger…it hits deep in your core. At times, impossible to describe, isn’t it? Tiny tears and disappointed faces. It can bring out a side of you, you didn’t know existed or thoughts you never believed you could think.

Memories resurface of me telling my ex that one day he will want them in his life and he will no longer be a priority in theirs. In all honesty, it was more like screaming. My words fell on deaf ears but rang so true sixteen years later.

My ex has changed for the better over the years. More thoughtful, more engaging, loving and caring towards the kids. Much kinder towards me. Maybe he was slower to mature as a father. Maybe I lacked some maturity too. Plain old parental growing pains? I don’t know. Was God’s hand on this through our prayers? Yes, without a doubt.

 

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1 comment

  1. This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I remember as a child waiting for my father to visit me one weekend. He didn’t come. I remember how heartbroken I was and how I took his broken promises personally. That was many years ago and my relationship with my father has been difficult. I never ever want my son to suffer the way I did with the self-doubt and the feeling of lack of worth.
    He is lucky, he sees his father regularly but if it ever changed, then I hope I can support him through it. This blog post is very helpful to me.

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