Monday, May 04, 2009

The Respect You Give

You’ve been reading a lot lately about my take on the most productive stance a divorced or live-away dad can take in terms of keeping strong bonds with his kids.

Many common problems during “visitation” (boy, do I hate that word; kids don’t “visit” their parents) occur the transition time when the child moves from one parent’s house to the other’s. Divorced dads often tell me that the mother will call to say that she misses the child, especially when the child has just arrived or has just spent the first day with her Dad. A wise dad named Chris had these reflections on that issue:
I had equal visitation, as long as I sent my check. My ex did that same thing not as a game, but out of her own insecurity. My kids responded initially as wanting to protect their mother. After a relatively short while, they got tired of having to “take care of her.” Especially when Dad offered a more sane alternative.
I didn't say “I miss you.” I kept it positive, and said "I'm looking forward to seeing you again on such and such day". I never used that to buy them, as much as to show them that I valued my time with them and allowed them to value their time with their mother without 'guilt'.
My kids got it pretty quick. Four daughters. My youngest, twins, just moved into their own house-dorm- as they prepare for college in the fall. So now I’m experiencing empty nest. But I have a real connection with them, and a great respectful relationship with them. Last week, one of my youngest got terribly ill, mono, and came to my home to get taken care of. She had no question of where she would get the caretaking she needed.
They scarcely want to talk to their needy mom, though do out of respect. Your children will decide what relationship you all will have with them based upon the respect you give them REGARDLESS of what the other spouse is doing.
What are your thoughts and experiences about Chris’ central point: “Your children will decide what relationship you all will have with them based upon the respect you give them REGARDLESS of what the other spouse is doing”? Share them with us in the comments below.


sean.lindsay4784 said...

I agree my four year old daughter and I respect and love each other deeply. I cannot control my ex and how she influences my daughter, but I can control what I do, the example I set, the confidence I provide.

Philip H. said...

As a dad-at-a-distance, I HOPE that I will have a respectful, sustained realtionship with my daughters. I HOPE that my continued contacts, my willingness to go to their school for activities, my actions to increase my time with them will all pay off. But after years in which we were all close - and i couold count on them for a word or ahug when I most needed it, now I get a lot of terse words, little respect, and few attempts to brideg the gap. Part of it is their entry into the teenage years. Part of it is they have a step-dad now, and see what they are missing by not having me around. That makes them angry, andthe choose to take their anger out on me. It's tough because I didn't move out, didn't ask for the divorce, and did't want to be reduced to a part time dad. So I Make th best of it I can.

Anonymous said...

i'm a mom, and my husband and i are not divorced. but i thought i'd comment because i was totally caught off-guard at the reaction to a mom calling to tell her kids she misses them. it seems like there is more to the story, but i have to say that i would call to tell my kids i miss them too. i wouldn't even realize it was hurting them unless someone told me. after reading this i can see how it would make the kids feel guilty, but i wouldn't have thought of that unless it was explained to me.