When parents divorce and kids have to get used to sharing placement time, it can be a rough adjustment. However, when one parent vanishes or simply absences him/herself, children have to deal with losing the only family they have ever known as well as a parent relationship. At a time like this, it can be hard to know how to help your kids cope with such a devastating loss.
When a parent chooses to stop being in a child’s life, it’s traumatizing. For the remaining parent, there is no way to justify the absent parent’s decision. All you can do is try your best to comfort your child and help them heal from the damage caused by your ex’s actions.
Do What You Can
Children have limited coping skills and life experience, and when their parents divorce, they will draw upon what they know to make sense of the situation. Often, kids blame themselves for their parents’ conflicts. The same holds true when a parent abandons a child. Although it’s illogical, in a child’s mind, it may be the only thing that makes sense. As the only remaining parent left, it will be up to you to reassure them that none of what has happened is their fault. As you check in with your children, you may see signs that they need to talk to a therapist about their thoughts and feelings. Listen closely and get them professional help if needed.
Dealing with Hard Questions
When your kids are old enough to ask questions about where the other parent has gone, they will be looking to you for answers. If you are too evasive, it can make your child feel more alone. If you are too blunt, it can turn into you berating their other parent. You are going to have to be ready to answer some hard questions, and it’s okay to be truthful while reassuring your kids that they are not the reason the other parent did not stay in their lives. By being open, you are providing the loving support and comfort they need.