IT'S UP TO THE
KIDS, NOT YOU
Mom, you cannot "help recreate their
bond." Any bond re-creation must take place between the kids and
their dad, and be the product of willingness and commitment on
both sides - which, it is abundantly clear, is lacking here. Dad
is behaving very badly, and your kids are better off protecting
themselves from his neglect and the repeated hurts he causes
If at some point your kids want to try
to open a channel of communication with their dad, you should
support their efforts as best you can - but in the meantime
don't badmouth him.
FIND A FATHER
Your children need to understand that
the reason their father called it quits was not their fault, and
the reason he doesn't see them any more is all to do with him
and nothing to do with them.
In the absence of their father, you must
try to introduce other role models for them - a grandfather, an
uncle, a brother-in-law, male friends. In fact anyone who -
without displaying rancour toward their father - can help
establish that they're okay and that still caring for or wanting
to see their dad is okay, too.
If you can help make that happen, your
kids may, in time, be able to establish a relationship with
their father, and they won't repeat his bad example.
First and foremost you are to be
commended for keeping it together, raising your lovely children
and resisting putting his "nibs" into a pine box. Daddy dearest
needs to be involved with his first set of children, not just
out of duty, but out of love, compassion, honour and integrity.
Maybe he could bring the baby over to
your house, without your niece, or perhaps the kids can go over
to his house on an agreed-upon basis. They may even bond with
the baby. Dad can help with homework, and take his new baby
along to your kids' soccer games, band concerts and ballet
recitals. Even if nothing works and Dad turns his back on your
children, be solid in the knowledge that you have fulfilled your
role as an amazing parent.
Alexander, Surrey, B.C.
THE FINAL WORD
I wish that I could deliver a casserole,
a babysitter and a knight to your door.
You are probably too busy shuttling,
feeding and washing your children to mourn your own loss. Your
former husband is taking the act of abandonment to new heights.
He is so exacting - the niece, the baby and his tangled
explanations for his absence - that he makes Woody Allen appear
a mere apprentice. The difficult news to you now is that on top
of the particular toil of the single mother, you have another
job: to allow your children to believe that their father still
Heed the words of Better Off Moser. This
is your first super power: no negative utterances about your
former husband. He is obviously the cause of terrible hurt, but
your children are busy being children. They have suffered enough
of a glimpse into the failings of the adult world. Let them
construct their own imagined universes without the chatter of
your betrayal interrupting them. Let them play.
In practice, estrangement is a death in
the family. It is the bleakest place your children could go.
Nothing grows in Estrangement. So that's your second super
power: Show them other possibilities. Meet with the father. You
are the adults in this situation and together share the
responsibility for its reparation. Try to decide upon a
consistent schedule for visits. Propose it to your children.
Allow them to make their own decisions. They must feel
empowered. The undercarriage of their life has dissolved. They
must know that they have the tools and the opportunity to
In the meantime, as Not Their Fault
Lindsay suggests, cultivate new relationships - with both men
and women. All figures can be father figures if you look closely
When we are children, our fathers are
pin-ups. They are idols. Your children are devastated by their
father's sloppy humanity. So, let them pull him from the wall if
they must. But, in your gold boots and blue cape, never stand in
the way of their righting him again.