On men froze out by their ex’s

rat manA recent blog that included the feelings of a dad who implored moms in split-up relationships to put their own feelings of hurt aside for the sake of their children drew a number of comments.

On the one hand, several dads reached out to say that I didn’t adequately address how widespread this issue is for many dads who are now trying to do better and be involved in their children’s lives, but find the way blocked due to the resentments and blocking behaviors of their children’s mothers.

One reader observed that, “sometimes the possessiveness of the mother, along with her rage, becomes an impossible barrier, including being unwilling to process anything at all. Legal action also carries pain and weight. What more might you say to that suffering dad who wrote in?”

I was wrestling with what I might say when another reader, Julianne, was kind enough to write:  “Re: the following: ‘there are a lot of men that don’t feel welcome around their children just because of the relationship the mom has painted for the child about the dad in the past! There will only be successful relationships between father and child when the mother puts her feelings and emotions to the side for the big picture and endorses and encourages the child to relate and spend time with the fathers!’”

She goes on to comment:  “Reflecting recently about how things seemed to ‘get better’ between my young adult sons and their father, it seemed the turning point was after he finally got through to me that there was something I could do, that I would need to do, for the boys to be able to see him in a positive light.

I resisted at first, feeling still hurt and angry about ‘being a parent all alone’ (he commuted an hour each way to work for 11 years and too often came home too tired to be social). I started listening to myself and I started hearing my tone of voice, the subtle and innumerable ways I was creating more distance and less appreciation than necessary.

I am so grateful that he insisted I do a better job of representing him fairly to the boys. (This was good for my growth, as well as for our marriage and for our sons).

Keep insisting, Dads… sometimes we moms can not hear ourselves!” 

So, for dads who suffer because they have been frozen out of their kids’ lives, first lets give a nod of appreciation to Julianne.  Beyond that, however, it wouldn’t hurt to apologize for past wounds that you might have, however unintentionally, inflicted on others who also love your child.  Maybe you had a bad temper; maybe you drank too much, betrayed or disappeared?  Don’t get stuck in shame (i.e. feeling like you are a bad father; trade up to guilt—that you had some “bad” behavior); apologize and commit to doing better… and then follow through.  Also, keep in mind all the positives that staying involved as a dad statistically bring to a child (i.e. better economic prospects, less risk of incarceration, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, etc.); it serves your kids for you to stay persistent and make your way into your kid’s life—and stay there.  If you need love to help with the shame and the sting of repairing damage, open your eyes and your hearts to see that the love is out there.  You can also click on the link here on fathering, or Google around until you find something that helps.  Just don’t give up!

And to moms who are still holding onto hurt and resentment, perhaps Julianne’s experience may speed the plough on your own process of forgiveness.  Even if the man who has hurt you does not deserve forgiveness in your own estimation, you will personally benefit from forgiveness as it’s good to be free in this way (remember, forgiving doesn’t mean denying that there has been hurt, just that you are no longer going to hold onto that hurt), but mostly it is a great gift for your children.  It helps you be happy, which is great for our kids; so, if you can somehow find a way to have an amicable relationship with your ex and allow them to have a relationship with their kids, everyone wins.

I fully realize that many, many moms have done all this and the dads just continue to break your kid’s heart while showing no sign of waking up to their own clueless and painful behavior.  For these suffering moms we also need to maintain a lot of compassion.

So let’s dedicate today to every mom and every dad who feels let down and froze out, and who wants to make the effort to do better, to take a hard look not just at what others do to make life hard but at what we ourselves do that might make things hard for others.  Every parent who steps up in this way, whether or not they are met with open arms and forgiveness, does a solid for their child.

Namaste, Bruce


2 Responses to “On men froze out by their ex’s”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Great use of Miles’ pic! Steph

  2. Donald Says:

    Good point! Thanks!

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