After a long weekend, many parents are faced with the anger and disappointment that their co-parent did not honour their time with the kids and have let them down…again!
For the parent who is at the receiving end of such behaviour and left to console even more disappointed children, it is a tough situation to manage.
Whether the non involved parent is displaying this behaviour to punish you and chooses to disappoint the children to make you feel bad, or whether that parent is just not interested in the children, the result hurts the children. For however much it is a challenge to involve a parent who doesn’t want to be in their children’s lives, it is unfortunately something that cannot be forced and that the children will have to learn to accept, but, if that parent uses this as a tactic to hurt or punish you, then it is necessary to recognise that your co-parent needs assistance with healing and moving on and it would be recommended that you both go for co-parenting coaching.
That being said, here are a few tips to help you manage short term disappointment and always be reminded that there are no quick fixes. When communication between parents is strained, it needs to find renewed trust to re-engage.
- Do not focus on the “no show” – It may be an isolated incident or a regular thing, but focusing on the “no show” will only feed your negative thinking. Once it’s clear they are not showing up, rather model your organisational skills to your children. Whether you have a plan B or not, it is your children’s day and even though they may be disappointed it doesn’t have to be ruined, even if it means staying cosy at home.
- Do not beat yourself down for the no show – It is not your fault and you are not responsible for your co-parent’s choice of behaviour.
- Honestly, you are not surprised, right? – Better feel comfortable with this eventually than expecting something you know is not going to happen.
- Do not try to fix your kids’ disappointment – This is a common mistake parents do, although honourable. We don’t like seeing our children hurt, but it is important to let your kids be simply and genuinely disappointed. It is their experience and they need to process it on their own terms.
- No matter the challenges encountered and the long absences experienced, keep “mommy/dad” naturally in their conversation. Having an absent parent is one thing, but feeling uncomfortable to talk about that parent can be much worse. Allow your kids to talk about their parent, ask questions and even hang on to memories, this way, should that parent ever decide to be back in their life at some point, your children will have only but their own feelings towards them to heal and you to thank for always having kept them present in their life in one way or another.