How To Deal With A Difficult (Absent) Parent
In an ideal world dealing with an absent parent would be a lot easier than it actually is, but one thing I have learnt is that people are what they are. Not everyone will be easy to get along with or to comprehend, but there are ways around dealing with a difficult absent parent. It takes a lot of strength and it is not an easy road to walk down especially if they are still bitter and playing the blame game. I have come up with a few methods which may be of some interest to you, I hope that you can take something away from this post. Let me know how/if it works out for you in the comments section!
1. Don't entertain them when they play the blame game.
I have had my own fair share of dealing with this and personally I shut it down immediately simply stating, "she is here now, we are no longer in the past. We are in the present, so rather than looking backwards, let's look at the present with the current situation in hand. She is not going anywhere anytime soon." I find this to be effective and may help to bring him back to reality because whenever people play the blame game they also need to remember that it takes two to tango.
2. Try to avoid arguing.
This sounds easier said than done, trust me I know! However, it is in your child's best interest especially if they are present to not argue. It brings negative vibes and bad energy which you and your child do not need. If you feel an argument arising, just switch the conversation or say, "we can talk about that another time, when we both feel a lot calmer. Now is not the time." If they continue to argue or try to be demeaning, if possible walk away and explain why you are walking away. This will give them time to reflect on their attitude and their behaviour.
3. Meet in public places.
If and when possible try to always meet up in public, open places, just for your security. Depending on the type of person your child's father may be, it is a good idea to be in a public place, just in case things spiral out of control. This way there will be witnesses and other people may be able to step in to prevent things from becoming really horrible. You do not have to entertain your child's father in your personal space, if you do not desire to. Meet anywhere that you feel comfortable.
4. Focus the conversation on your child(ren).
When discussing things with your child's father, it is always a good idea to ensure that the conversation stays focused on the relevant topics; your child(ren). Sometimes you may notice that they will bring up old topics or even irrelevant things which have been resolved, but they still hold a grudge about - steer the conversation back to your child(ren) this allows them to understand that your child(ren) are what matters the most. You are there to discuss how to be better parents and how to work together to bring up your child(ren) and if this is not their focus, then perhaps they need to be given a gentle reminder.
5. Work out an arrangement.
If they decide they would like to co-operate then it is beneficial for you all to sit down and work out an arrangement so everyone knows where they stand. If they decide that they do not want to work out an arrangement, don't force them and try not to be upset. Give them some time to take in everything and hopefully they will come around eventually. Try to be open to their ideas also and see where you can meet them halfway. Remember that your child(ren) are important, so if you both can co-operate and work together it will be a lot easier in the long run.
6. Allow them to express themselves (on relevant issues).
You will notice point 4 where I stated the conversation should be about your child(ren) and not irrelevant issues, however if your ex has something they would like to express to you which is of importance and of relevance, then allow them to have their say. Try to listen and not interrupt, once they are finished then you can have your say. Address the points they have made and come up with a solution which you both are happy about. Even though we are the ones who deal with our child(ren) 24/7, give them their chance to speak - but again keep it relevant!
7. Be calm.
Do you remember that old saying, "sticks and stones?!" Well sometimes, words do hurt! So, as much as you would like to tell them what you honestly think of them, try not to. Ask yourself, how will this help my current situation? Will this push him away? Will this make him want to be more active in my child's life? Take deep breaths, calm down and if you need to get some fresh air for a few minutes then come back. If he is the one being insultive or getting angry, then again step away and tell him that he needs to calm down, so you will give him some time to do just that.
8. Don't be forceful.
Women are very different to men - it is a fact! So, at times we can be more emotional than they are. With that said, it does not mean that they do not care, it just means they perhaps show their feelings in a different way. If you are trying everything under the sun to get him to be present in your child's life and it is not working, fall back - literally. Let him have some space and when he is ready hopefully he will come to his senses, but don't keep pushing him, this will only push him away. Of course you know your child is AMAZING and he is the one missing out, but my aunt always says, "you can bring the donkey to the well, but you cannot force it to drink the water!" He needs to realise this by himself.
9. Set boundaries.
Regardless of his poor attitude, put some boundaries in place, so that he knows where he stands and what you will and will not accept or tolerate. This is purely because he needs to know that you are serious about what you are saying and you must stay consistent with your boundaries. He may have his own conditions and so forth, but it is up to you how you respond to this and whether or not you feel that his conditions are necessary.
10. Leave the door open.
If the above does not work or he is just a very, very difficult individual, then leave him alone. Let him know that the door is always open, but you will not accept him coming in and out of your child's life because this is not good and is unsettling for your child. If he wants to be involved then, great, be involved, but he is either all the way in or all the way out. There is no coming and going as he pleases, there must be some order.
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