Coping with an Absent Father: Navigating Father’s Day Dilemma

by LukeAdmin

Reader Question: “My ex–husband is unreliable with his contact with our children and grandchildren. I know Father’s Day is coming up. He hasn’t initiated any plans for the day. Should I try to make something happen, or just plan a day for the family myself?”

Dearly Beloved

I am sorry to hear your situation. It hurts and all get hurt by it in some way, eventually. This is a sad old story shared by mothers to daughters who become mothers and on and on down the line. There is a long history of absent and disappointing dads across the world who leave it to mothers to do 100% of the loving alone – AND – this must be always balanced with the reality there are even many more amazing, wonderful and present dads.

Unfortunately, I too am a child of a disengaged father and know how much it hurts when they miss out on your life and then later, the life of your children (his grandchildren). Most days I can be compassionate and forgiving of this because he shows up just enough and there is nothing that can really erase the love. As an adult I can see he is also the product of a sad old story too, passed down the line of family generations, that left scars and wounds and incomplete resources to emotionally heal.

I don’t know what the story and history your ex has, I can bet however, there is one. We all have one. And we all have choices to make on how we respond. Do we do our best and create a space for possibility and invitation into relationship (whichever way it can happen)? Or do we manage the risk and assess it is too much (and close the gate to protect the heart)? Both are legitimate options. Both have consequences. Without knowing your situation more and the ages of your children – it is impossible for me to give direct advice.

All I can suggest is you ask some important questions, like “what is the outcome you want?” and “who are the intended recipients of the effect of the action you take”? The other words of counsel I pull out when I don’t have easy answers are: “What is the loving thing to do here”? “What would LOVE do”? Ask these questions for each of the key people and relationships involved. LOVE holds the wisdom.

I can see now in hindsight how my own mum facilitated and nudged the times of contact and lines of communication open with dad, and limited words of criticism. It helped create the times of connection and memories that are good. I am glad she did that. Dad is glad she did that. When left to my dad’s own capacity, it became a bit more of a mixed bag. A bit hit and miss. I was never fully insulated from the disappointments. I did however know I was loved. I got to experience so much more of my mum’s love than my dad’s, but I do know I have his love, and sometimes that is just enough.

Your children and grandchildren will likely also NOT be insulated from the disappointments – and I am sorry about that – but I am sure with a caring and thoughtful mum like you, they will never get denied the love. Children just need the LOVE. Love exponentiates. Love amplifies. Love heals. Love creates. Remember, LOVE holds the wisdom.

Much love, Sarah x

Sarah Tolmie – Life & Love: Sarah is a marriage therapist, life & love and relationship coach, end–of–life consultant, an independent and bespoke funeral director and holistic celebrant. She provides holistic care, mentoring, guidance, healing and transformation for individuals, couples and families at their most important times of life & love – at end–of–life, in love & relationship, and in ritual and celebration. Sarah has a series of online courses – “Creating a Miracle Marriage. Online Course for Couples” and “How do you feel? Using the intelligence of our emotions to heal and be whole in Life & Love and “Landscapes of Life & Love and Loss. Traversing the pathways of dying, death and grief”.
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