After they divorce, noncustodial parents who are not in regular possession of their children can struggle to remain connected to them. The problem many fathers face in these situations is that they may become increasingly estranged from their kids and not know how to get back on track.
Whatever the reasons for the estrangement — parental alienation by the child’s other parent, distance, the child’s resentment — the longer it goes on, the more challenging it is to mend the breach.
When the bond breaks
If you are a parent who is struggling with addiction or mental illness, your own problems can be so difficult to manage that you are unable to positively contribute to your child’s life. You or their other parent may conclude that it is better for you not to participate in the kids’ lives at all.
A parent who is off of their psychotropic drug regime or who is actively abusing drugs or alcohol is not in the right frame of mind to be around their children. But the longer this continues, the harder it is to resume normal parental/child relationships.
Separate marital conflict from your parental relationship
No matter how traumatic the events of the divorce were to either spouse, parents should not allow those issues to color their relationship with their children. If that is something that your former spouse is either unable or unwilling to do, it could indicate your ex is alienating the kids from you by their words or actions.
Kids resent the divorce
Divorce is hard for the adults, but it’s hardest on the children. They may act out with hostility or clam up and disengage with either or both parents. When that happens, the kids may not even understand that these behaviors are coping strategies.
Setting the kids up with a few sessions with a child psychologist may help bring the matter into a clearer perspective. They can develop healthier coping skills to help them work through any lingering resentments from the divorce.
Don’t let estrangements continue
At all times, remember that you are the adult in the relationship. Don’t take the bait if your child says ugly things to or about you. Refuse to allow your ex to further estrange you from your children.
Parental alienation is a real problem in fractured families. You may need to return to court to seek a modification in your custody arrangements if the children’s other parent is acting detrimentally to their best interests and sabotaging their relationships with you.