The holidays are over and my kids and grandkids have left. And again my ex-wife- their mother -disappointed them. She sent gifts and cards but made no effort to speak to them or make any time for them over the holiday. Maybe she thinks because our kids are grown they don’t need her. But she is missing so much with our kids’ lives, watching her grandchildren grow up, and she doesn’t seem to care. I am just sounding off because it has been this way for years and never changes.
I know from first- hand experience exactly how you are feeling. Frustration and anger bubbling up and all the while trying not to let it affect the family holiday.
You have every reason to feel the way you do. However, you are not alone in seeing your former spouse seemingly abandon her family. After a divorce many parents abandon their adult children. There are many reasons.
They have a new life elsewhere and feel their children don’t need them anymore. They might have said they are done with parenting, and want this time of life to be solely about themselves. They might be embarrassed about their actions and feel they can’t face the judgement of their adult children. It might be all of the above. Whatever the reason, it is always the children that suffer by parental decisions of this nature.
It is very good to vent your frustration but any time given over to the topic during family holidays is time wasted. The absent parent is not there to defend themselves and assumptions made about reasons why they have chosen to be absent are only assumptions.
Any reference to your former spouse is usually weighted with the negative energy from the separation and divorce. There has probably been more than enough of that already. Your family holidays should be focused on the joy of being together and watching those favourite performers –grandchildren.
Sometime when it feels appropriate talk to your children on their own about how they feel. Don’t let it deteriorate into bashing the absent parent but give them the opportunity to express their feelings and frustrations. You want to get to a place of acceptance that one parent has made the choice to be absent and withdraw attention. Perhaps you can also strategize ways for them to approach their mother about the issue.
Your frustration may be expressed at an opportune time with your ex-spouse if you have any type of communication.
But don’t let your children become the go between. They have a different perspective than you do.
If you have any communication with your former spouse, you might want to offer that she is missing very special family time. Keep the communication minimal but factual without judgement. Too often communication can devolve into former spouses reliving the previous hurt which is not helpful in finding solutions to the present problem.
There’s a whole new year ahead. Sometimes people need several opportunities and encouragement before they change behaviour.
We know that life is often not fair and that is just a fact that needs to be accepted by you and your children. She may show an interest next year and she may not. As the active parent and grandparent continue to give them the love and attention they want and deserve.
One good parent is more than enough for any family.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.