This topic of the ex checking out is not often spoken of regarding children and divorce.
Because it is one of those things you don’t want to happen, but if it does, you might be filled with doubt, shame, embarrassment, or fall silent, hoping your ex will snap out of it and re-engage in your child’s life.
Sadly however, there are some cases where your ex may not resurface… and if they do, it may be so infrequent that it feels too damaging.
So, what do you do to help your child when your ex checks out of their life?
- Reach out to the other parent.
- Insulate your child from letdowns.
- Help them understand why this can happen.
- Support them through their loss.
So after reaching out and expressing your concerns to your ex with no response, you now become the gatekeeper of calls and any correspondence from your ex, so your kids can be protected and not continually let down.
Explain to your kids that some parents just don’t have the emotional strength or health to be available to their children and you understand their pain and loss. They will grieve the loss of their parent, just like a physical death, and you will want to honor that for them as they go through this.
You can pray with your children that their parent will have strength and the ability to someday have a relationship with them. Let them know how much you love them, and how lucky you are that you have them in your life.
This is a very unfortunate situation and it does sometimes occur. There is often no end to this story and it can unfold in many ways. A parent might be unavailable for five years and then suddenly wants to step back into their child’s life. Or it could be even longer…
At that crossroads, when opportunities arise for that child to have a relationship with their parent, you and your child will have to look at the timing in your life and what’s possible and take steps to then be able to encourage and strengthen relationships with an estranged parent.
There is no right or wrong. In most cases, having a relationship with the other parent in some way, is better than not having any at all.
So guidance, communication, and assessing things at the time when a parent might come back into your child’s life is the key. Really looking at what the dynamics are, and what needs to happen will be critical.
Dr. SueAnne Magyar-Hill
Founder of EmpoweringChildrenOfDivorce.com
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