Dealing With An Ex Who Has Little Involvement in His Kid’s Lives
As a single Mom there have been moments when you feel like you have nothing left to give. You’re functioning on very little sleep and doing the work of both parents; helping them with homework, tucking them into bed, cheering them on at their sporting events, and shuttling them to and from their friends’ houses. It’s not anything extraordinary-it’s just part of what it means to be a Mom. In doing so, your children never have to question whether or not you’ll be there for them.
No, you’re not a superwoman-although the title does kind of suit you!-you’re just a Mom who realizes that it’s her moral, social and biological responsibility to care for the kids she decided to bring into this world.
However, your ex, the father of your children, has not adopted this attitude. When it’s his visitation, sometimes he’ll show up and other times he’ll call at the very last minute and cancel his plans. While this behavior is clearly infuriating, how should you handle his irresponsibility, erratic behavior, and general apathy when it comes to stepping up and taking the initiative to care for his kids?
According to Mike Shimberg, a single, divorced Dad and author of The Complete Single Father, whose own experiences, served as the basis for the book, after a divorce many single Dads revert to a “bachelorhood” mentality.
“Single Dads may need to be reminded that no matter what issues they’ve had with their ex spouse, they have not divorced their kids, and if they want to give their children the best possible shot at a happy childhood, they’re going to have to get involved,” says Shimberg.
Before anything else, both parents must agree to set aside their personal differences and establish a relationship with one another. “You can’t underestimate the importance of forging that relationship with your ex,” says Shimberg. “You both need to get their egos out of the picture, get over the drama and remember that in the end it’s all about your kids.”
So, if you’re waiting for your ex- to step up to the plate and accept his responsibilities when it comes to raising your kids, Shimberg can offer you advice and a peek into the mind a Single Dad. How, with a bit of guidance form you, their ex, he will pick up his share of the child duty and give your kids what they long for most…their Dad.
“A single Mom needs to confront her ex and ask him point blank, what type of relationship he wants to have with his kids throughout their childhood,” says Shimberg. “If he’s either non-committal, or confesses, he’s, “just not that into it,” the single Mom needs to differentiate whether it’s fear or disinterest that’s caused him to make that decision.”
According to Shimberg often, single Dads want to be involved but they’re just not sure how to physically go about caring for the day-to-day needs of their kids. Shimberg personally dealt with his own learning curve as a single Dad, getting the hang of brushing this daughter’s hair, and tying it into a ponytail.
“The bottom line is men are task-oriented and might need some guidance from the single Mom, at least in the beginning,” says Shimberg. “Even if you have to call him to remind him about your kids’ baseball game and piano recital, remember, in the end your kids will be happier having both parents in their lives, no matter how you ultimately made it happen.”
But Shimberg does admit there are single Fathers who just don’t want to be a parent. Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to be a parent, and in that situation single Moms should do their best to try and find extended male family members to step in and offer some good role modeling for their kids.
“If you have a Dad that doesn’t want to be involved explain to the kids that Dad is not available right now,” say Shimberg. “A single Mom should always try to keep the lines of communication open in the hopes that one day he might change his mind. There are Dads for whom one day the light bulb will go on. Suddenly they’ll realize that they want to be a part of their kids’ lives and as the single Mom you want to make sure you have not tarnished the Dads’ image.”
The best thing single Mom’s can do is remember that they’re in this for the long-haul and hope the light bulb will eventually turn on.
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