What Happens When Dad Doesn’t Show Up? by Jackie Pilossoph for ESME
It starts the day a child is born: a mom’s desire to make things all better. Remember how hard it was when your baby was wailing and you couldn’t figure out how to get him to stop? Well, that desire doesn’t change as your kids get older.
I think every Solo Mom would agree that when your child is upset, sad, crying, or angry, all you want to do is fix it for her. In many instances, there are ways you can help, but sometimes the circumstances around what is bothering your child is out of your control, and you start to feel helpless and frustrated.
One such circumstance involves ex-husbands who don’t show up for visitations and/or become less and less involved in the child’s life. It is beyond hurtful to kids—and their moms.
A woman in this situation recently asked the following question to a group of Solo Moms:
What do you do when you can’t get in touch with your four-year-old child’s father for four days and she wants to talk to him? I can’t keep lying to her and telling her he is working all the time. It’s breaking my heart.
For advice on her situation, I turned to Sarah Rudek, a Chicago-based licensed professional counselor whose practice specializes in children, teens, and young adults. Rudek, who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, says young children don’t have the capability to label how they are feeling.
“They have so much sadness and confusion and disappointment, and they don’t have the capability to say those words,” says Rudek, who has been working in the field for 10 years. “This can lead to frustration and irritability. They might act out to the parent who is with them the most, they might have tantrums, or they might be mean to mom.”
She says the first thing she tells a Solo Mom in this situation is to validate her child’s emotions.
“Talk to your child and say, ‘I think it’s pretty frustrating that Dad hasn’t been around lately. Should we talk about it?’” Rudek says. “This lets the child know that you understand where they are at.”
I asked Rudek for tips on what a Solo Mom can do for her child under these circumstances. Here they are:
1. Have the child draw a picture. This is a great way for a child to process emotions. You don’t even have to give it to your ex. (Click here to read the rest of the article, published on ESME)
Like this article? Check out my blog, “Involving The Kids In The Divorce: It’s Just Disgusting”