Sunday, June 30, 2013

After the Divorce: Why Doesn't My Daddy Love Me Anymore?

It's one of the most heartbreaking questions a child can ask. I've heard it from so many different children. I've heard it from kids who don't see their mothers anymore either. Their situations may have varied but the hurt was always the same.

Kids tend to process rejection of any kind as a sign that they are unloved and unwanted even when that rejection has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

I remember a time after my divorce when my ex husband disappeared from the kids lives for about two years. He had essentially been married with kids since he was sixteen years old and had traded us in for a military career and a young new girlfriend, (no kids, no responsibilities, no stretchmarks.)

Yeah, I totally got it.

On one level I understood what was going on, I would have done the same thing if I didn't have kids. There were a lot of experiences that we missed having  family as young as we did and it was only natural to enjoy our new found freedoms.

But the kids didn't understand any of that.

They only understood that Daddy wasn't around.

My mom was divorced three times in my childhood, and I knew exactly what the kids were feeling. I knew it well.

When kids ask why Daddy doesn't love them anymore, there are a lot of things you can say.

You can tell them that their dad is a selfish jerk who doesn't care about anybody but himself, and many mothers do but I didn't. When looking at my long term goals for my kids, making them hate their father wasn't one of them.

You can tell them that mommy loves them more and daddy is a jerk but what does that accomplish besides proving that you are too insecure to share your childs love.

Of course he is a jerk in your book, that is why you divorced him. A man can be a lousy husband and a wonderful father. He can treat us like crap and still love his kids. We are perfectly capable of the same. Maybe we couldn't make it work together, but if we really stayed married for the kids then why can't we divorce for the kids as well.

I grew up without my daddy, and forcing them to grow up without theirs just because he and I couldn't live together was one of the most self-centered things I felt I could do to them.

This wasn't about me.

So, when they were little and he was gone, they sometimes asked me why their daddy didn't love them anymore. And I responded "Your Daddy loves you very much. Your daddy is a good person, your mommy is a good person, they just weren't good people together. We both love you very much and that will never change."

They didn't always understand why he couldn't be with them so I tried to explain it to them the best that I could. That he had a job to do. That he wanted to be with them, but the military needed him. That he would see them every chance he got.

I felt I owed them that much at least.

In my life Daddies came and daddies went, but they just didn't stick around.

My mom didn't trash him, she told me stories about their time together but they were never judgmental or critical. She said he was a nice man. He loved me. Their lives had just taken different paths.

I remember growing up wondering where my dad was and asking myself why he didn't want me.  I was sixteen before I found out that he really did.

When he told me his story for the first time I found out that he had tried to contact me once and found out that my mother had remarried and I had been adopted. He stepped out to let my new father raising having no idea that my stepfather would be out of the picture completely by first grade.The next step-father was around for six years, and then he too was gone.

I still didn't fully understand it then. I think I had to go through my own divorce to really see his point of view from the proper perspective.  He was trying to do what was best for me, so was my mother. He loved me all along. He wanted me all along. Life just gets in the way sometimes...

People always saw they stay together for the kids, but once the divorce begins nobody says they are divorcing for the kids. We should.

There is usually a lot of hurt between the two adults involved and that transfers through and to the kids. It doesn't have to. If only we could love our kids more than we hate each other.

Divorce is tough...

But it is always toughest on the kids. There is no reason to make it even more difficult by saying anything other than. "This has nothing to do with you. We both love you and that will never change."


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