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teenagers and divorce(23 Posts)
My H had an affair and I ejected him at the end of last year.
Since then my 2 DDs (15, 13) have spent very little time with him. Both are still angry with him for trashing their family life and object to the fact that he's living unnecessarily far away.
They are perfectly civil to him, but they communicate important stuff through me mostly. He complains that he barely sees them.
I think that even if they ignored him or told him to f*ck off every day for the next 5 years, he should still be making a superhuman effort to maintain contact, until they are ready to let him back in.
But should I have to tell him that? I don't want to, he's being all poor-me and passive now anyway and I'm fed up with it, but I don't want him to fade away from their lives because his ego can't take rejection.
His relationship with his teenage dc's is his own concern
I wouldn't do anything at all, if I were you
mmm that's what I think most of the time.
But for them it's very sad. They are sad, as well as angry with him.
And I don't want to let him off the parenting hook because it's all too thankless and too much like hard work. I'm exhausted dealing with his trail of destruction alone
Have you talked to them about how they are feeling OP? It's very hard watching your ex ruin their relationship with the DC, but ultimately it's going to be more his loss than theirs.
To clarify I know you've said they are angry but i'm wondering if this is your observation or if you've had a good talk about it with them
We separated when our DDs were 14 and 16, two years ago. It was very sudden (for them, at least) and their Dad has made little attempt to stay in touch with them although he only lives a mile away.
The youngest has found this very hard and I've tried explaining to exDH that however grown up she seems, she still wants to feel that he cares. It has helped a bit, I know he loves them and doesn't deliberately hurt them, but he's inclined to feel he's the victim. I know it's his problem but we have a civil enough relationship for me to be able to have the conversation.
His relationship with them isn't just his concern when you are left to pick up the pieces. It's no different just because they're teenagers, sometimes it's worse because they're so used to living with both parents.
Yes this is what they say to me.
Yes, I think you should tell him in words of one syllable that, even when they are not ready to be more than distantly polite to them, he's got to keep trying. And tell him that it arises from their shock and pain at the devastation of the family unit. That it is an inescapable part of the price tag of his affair. That he must make every effort, no matter what the cost, to be a good father. And the reason that it's tough is totally his responsibility. He's not the victim, he's the reactor, and he must do everything he can, all the time, to heal them.
No you shouldn't have to be doing any of these things. It's bloody unfair that he's the one who made these choices but you have to pay the price too without having had any say in why it all became necessary. But it's got to be done. And that means telling them that their father is still their father. His affair was his choice and nothing to do with them. And that you want them to have as good a relationship with him as possible.
nutty - that's exactly it - they need to know that he cares. And deserves to be involved, after what he did.
"But should I have to tell him that?"
No, but I think you'll have to. You'd want to phrase it so that it didn't seem like you wanted him to do you a favour but I think you're quite entitled to tell him that he's not making much of an effort with the kids and he should pull his finger out or he'll lose them all together. What happens next is up to him, of course.
Having personally known a widowed father of 4 adult children who, on remarrying a much younger woman, systematically ostracised every single one of them in turn ... nothing surprises me.
TBH I think it's unlikely that a guy like this is going to start to 'do the right thing' now and attempts to tell him what he 'should' do will be futile and frustrating for you. If I were you I'd concentrate on your own relationship with the kids and let him get on with deciding how seriously to take his responsibility as a parent. He hasn't got to do anything. He'll obv do whatever the hell he likes, like he always has.
oh I agree with you all. It breaks my heart. They want and need their Dad, but not in his current flaky self-pitying state.
I'll talk to him next time he comments, so at least I've done what I can for them.
you will be wasting your breath
but you gotta do what you gotta do, I suppose
You know your partner better than anyone on here. If you think he will listen to you and that talking to him will help him see the error of his ways and change the way he acts, have the conversation. Otherwise, save your breath.
You can't protect your kids from knowing what their dad is like forever. Try not to go along the 'he does love you, he just has a funny way of showing it' line. It's his responsibility to define his personal relationships, even with your kids, not yours. And you excusing his behaviour might just confuse them.
They have one loving, responsible and caring parent - you. Nurture that.
I won't excuse his behaviour, never have, not even in my weakest moments, thankfully.
At the moment he is serving as an important lesson in what not to do, both pre and post fuck-up, and they worked that out for themselves.
It's really hard on them. So I'll tell him what I think he should do. He'll listen, but he is so self absorbed at the moment that I can't predict what he'll do long term. Depend if he learns to look beyond his own navel
But should I have to tell him that
No you shouldn't BUT in my experience you need to - not for his sake or the DCs necessarily, but for your own sake. Because then you will know absolutely that you have done everything within your power to help him retain a relationship with the DCs.
TBH your post seems more about your needs and anger than your childrens and that you are trying to punish him for leaving you via your DDs. For example your comments on trying to teach him an "important lesson" or insist that he should "be making a superhuman effort" are not about your DD needs but your feeling about the breakdown of your marriage.
This is their dad whatever your feelings.... Maybe you need to move on yourself and be reconciled to what has happened more so you can really see this from their perspective?
African Sue I find your observations on OP absurd. She so clearly has her kids' interests at heart. If she was trying to punish him she would probably try to limit his contact or bad-mouth him, not try to help the relationship with her ex.
The important lesson is one they have picked up themselves from him and his behaviour, not one I'm preaching. They are telling me what he they want him to do, not the other way round, and they have plenty to say about trust , loyalty and deceit.
For the record, he didn't leave, I ejected him. He wrecked our marriage, I gave him plenty of opportunity to address the pain and mess and he didn't. We're all hurt by him for trashing our family life, of course we are. But the superhuman effort is all about making the DDs feel loved and wanted by him (which they don't feel now). It's not about me.
You're doing everything right OP.
No-one would have even a scintilla of sympathy for a mother who put her affair before her kids and then moved miles away. A father doing it is no different.
He's the one who threw a grenade into your family life and so he should suck it up and realise that for a while, he's not going to be a candidate for father-of-the-year in your girls' eyes. They have every right to be angry with him and you are completely right to permit those expressions of anger. Women and girls get told far too often that anger is inappropriate.
If he's got any sense, he'll be patient and won't bail on them because they are angry. If he does then that will be his fault and no-one else's.
I think it's worth mentioning it if you think he will take it on board and and others have said, you then know that you have done what you can. Then it's up to him.
I gave up with my xh tbh.
I tend to think that these xhs often distance themselves to (mistakenly) protect themselves from hurt and help themselves move on. I know this is a generalisation but from I've seen, my xh and dad included, they are often drawn into ow's world and their new life quite easily. But then frankly my xh is a pretty weak character..
From the opposite perspective I am the parent who moved out of the family home when my marriage broke down.
My EA ex wasn't prepared to consider any other option and my DC are nearly adults. The first year was awful. I missed them badly and they were angry at me for breaking up the family. Their DF was blaming me and didn't cope well and used them as therapy which was very unfair on them. Luckily he found a GF very quickly.
Slowly I rebuilt my relationship with them with weekly meals together and constant text and email contact. Two years on I took them all away on holiday for a week. Their relief at being back with DM and being parented was palpable! I know they all love me and need me and I think we are moving past the hardest part to calmer waters. But I had to cope with their hurt and rejection and be the adult. I had to hear how much they hated the breakup of the family and feel their anger at me. I didn't badmouth their DF to them because I thought it would be more damaging. But now we have a lovely relationship again and once the family home is sold I think things will be much more even between their DF and me.
If your Ex wants to be part of their lives he is going to have to go through the pain barrier to the other side. He can't avoid it.
No, you don't have to, you don't want to have to, and you shouldn't have to. But you know that morally, for your children's sakes, you are going to have to.
Now, I am going to suggest that you write it down for him. That way he can't forget, can refer to it whenever. You can email or post a copy everytime he whinges a bit and remind him of his duty to him.
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