Kim B. Miller
How to Love Your Kids More Than You Hate That Man
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Imagine not being able to see your children. It seems hard to grasp but that is the reality for a lot of parents, especially dads. No, a lack of desire or time is not the problem. These are caring, loving parents who want to spend time with their children. There is one person standing in the way, blocking calls, avoiding visitation and ignoring any input provided. This person is not who you would normally expect. No it’s not a distraught in-law, or an over involved sibling or an overbearing friend. This person is normally the child’s best ally. I’m talking about the child’s custodial parent.
As moms we deal with a lot of emotions when a relationship ends. Men do as well, but women normally internalize differently then men do. Clearly, we all grieve when a relationship ends. The sorrow takes on different forms depending on the individual, their experiences, and their support system. The pain is generally more tolerable if you have someone to lean on or confide in.
We spend hours rethinking every move we’ve made. We second guess decisions that were sound at the time but now seem questionable. We question the sincerity of everything. Add massive issues like, infidelity, lies and arguments and you have a very volatile situation. Now, let’s further complicate the issue and add children to the mix. This really adds a unique dimension to the break up. You have to focus on their needs. You can’t ignore their difficulties and that complicates how you handle your own grief. Sometimes we put our feelings to the side to help our kids deal with their struggles. You can’t “preach’ that things are going to get better if you have been crying hysterically in front of them all day. They look to us as parents for guidance on how they should handle it. Not just the words we say but our actions too.
Many moms and dads balance the issues and continue onto the next stage in their life, while others wallow in the past and in their own pain. Since women generally get custody of the kids, they have a great deal of responsibility and control.
Some parents, especially the ones with custody, have figured out an awful way to obtain their revenge. They have decided to use their kids to get back at their ex mate. They know they will not be ignored, and they will get their point across. Visitation has been all but eliminated for a lot of these parents. Calls from the other parent are ignored or avoided. Interaction is very low, if at all. The other parent tries desperately to reach out, to no avail. The custodial parent has an internal dialogue going on. They have found a way to justify everything they are doing. They’ve even convinced themselves that the other parent doesn’t even deserve to see their child.
Is this you? Am I describing something that you are doing? If I am describing you please listen closely. There is a major problem with your logic. You may eventually crush the other parent’s resolve and spirit but you will also crush your child’s spirit and self esteem too. Eventually they will begin to wonder what they did wrong to push the other parent away. A child uses simple logic: if I did not do anything wrong then my parent would come and see me, since they are not coming to see me I must have done something wrong.
Another unforeseen problem is, as you afflict pain on your ex you also limit yourself. How? Revenge is a lot of work. It’s almost impossible to prosper while you’re being spiteful. It’s time consuming to play the “I can out do you” game. You waste a lot of time plotting, and you are not fun to be around either. You know what I mean. The kids can’t mention the other parent without you going “off”. How are they supposed to feel? This is someone that they look up to, and aspire to be like and you are speaking badly of them. Remember kids emulate their parents. If you put down one of their heroes in their eyes you are putting them down too.
Pain wrapped in excuses has led you to a horrible existence. Everyone is suffering. You are lying to friends and family telling them everything is great and you know everyone is hurting. I was like you once, happily in love and my marriage ended due to his cheating. I had 2 young children when I found out about the “third” affair. I was furious at him. I had enough and I left but he was always welcome to see the kids, after all they did not do anything wrong. Did I want to see him at times? No, but they did. It wasn’t easy, I prayed a lot, but it was the right thing to do for all of us, especially them.
You can’t realistically ask God to help you and to forgive you if you’re “holding something over someone else’s head.” Remember God is a forgiving God. He can help you through this if you let Him. First you have to open your heart and let Him in. Right now it is closed to everyone. I know you feel that you are not over the break up yet and forgiving the other parent makes it seem like they are “off the hook” for all they did but that is not what this is about. Forgiving is not excusing what they did. Forgiveness is freeing you. You will be free to live your life and make decisions based on growth. Nothing will change until you decide to let go of the pain that is holding you back. If the other person is a fit parent then they have the right to interact with their child.
You are not hopeless, you can change this. Parents are inherently strong willed people who are used to being resilient. This is an obstacle and you can overcome it. Demonstrate to your kids that when you make a mistake you accept your responsibilities and do everything needed to make it right. Apologize to everyone involved including you and start over. Forgive yourself; don’t keep looking back at all the time you wasted. Call you ex and work on a visitation plan that is fair and starts immediately. It’s never too late to change. Don’t let shame and embarrassment hold you back. Walk past that to your victory. Don’t wait another day we can work on changing the world one family at a time.