You’ve already read our tips on how to work with your ex-spouse to facilitate visitation in contentious parenting situations. But what happens if your ex-spouse doesn’t want to see your children? As unbelievable as it may seem, this is a sad reality for many families. Of course, it is the children who suffer the most when one parent chooses not to be an active participant in their lives. As the custodial parent, what can you do?
First, talk to your children about their frustrations. Parental rejection causes feelings of confusion, anger, sadness, and worthlessness in children. Encouraging your children to communicate their feelings about the situation can help you address specific concerns and dispel misunderstandings.
Refrain from expressing your own frustration in front of your children. If you find yourself dealing with parental rejection by your ex-spouse, chances are you’re harbouring a significant amount of anger and resentment. Exposing your frustrations to your children will only add to the conflict and can be a form of parental alienation. Approach your communications with your children with a view to assisting them in working through their issues without badmouthing your ex-spouse.
Speak to your ex-spouse. As unbelievable as it may seem, some parents lack the emotional intelligence to comprehend the negative impact that their absence may have on their children.
If your ex-spouse is a chronic no-show – that is, he or she consistently makes plans with your children and cancels them at the last minute or simply doesn’t show up – keep a list of activities in the back of your mind to distract your children from feelings of disappointment or rejection.
As in all communications with an ex-spouse, we encourage you to make every effort to maintain civility and stress the paramountcy of your children’s needs above your own.
For more information on separation, divorce, and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com.
Robert Berman B.C.L, LL.B
Founder & Family Lawyer