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This room is dedicated to those who are facing the challenge of raising children without the support of a spouse. This is a place to share ideas and lend mutual support.

Saint Rita is known to be a patroness for abused wives and mourning women.
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Jun 17th 2013 new
(quote) Joan-529855 said: Marge,
I knew this would be coming from you, and I DO agree with you. As a matter of fact I DID remove myself from any involvement with the relationship or lack therefore between the kids and their father/his family, initially.
BUT my therapist said children of "dead beat dad's" do not emotionally develop at the appropriate rate, therefore, though they may be chronologically 20, emotionally they are preteen/teenagers. They do NOT understand "who knows why", nor can they accept the concept that their dad is a "louse".
Your statements hold true for the child that grew up in a emotionally healthy environment. The kids dad left when they were all teenagers and at that point their emotional development stopped. Many times when an individual experiences emotional trauma, the age at which they are when the trauma occurred, is where they get emotionally "stuck". I see this all of the time with my E.D. kids (emotionally disabled) in school.
As I described earlier, this situation is not one in which the Dad just walked out, but so did all of his family; grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. They have completely abandoned the kids. No more Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas presents (not even a card, though we send cards to them), no acknowledgement of cards received, NOTHING. It is as though the kids never existed.
Well Said.... As an abandoned child there is nothing anyone can say that will soothe my heart. I have learned to accept it... But the theme is there and hurts.

I usually call and say Happy Father's day, this year I broke the trend. If my biological father can't even call to say Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, or any greeting at all he should not expect one back? Perhaps that is harsh, but I've grown past making him feel good.....

I love him and I won't disrespect him but the function of making a two minute phone call is even unnecessary. He won't have anything to say to me anyway.

Blessings,
Michelle.
Jun 17th 2013 new
(quote) Joan-529855 said: What does a single mom do/say when a dad has disowned his children, who are now all in their 20's? As Father's Day is tomorrow, our 25 year old daughter literally cried when she said she "missed Dad" and wanted him to visit her over the summer while she was doing her internship out of state.
I asked him to visit her and he (who makes a 6 figure salary, with a car/house provided by his father) replies, "I have no money to visit kids".
He has the most generous father I have ever met. His father gives EVERYTHING and does EVERYTHING for my exhusband, (on a military retirees income). My exhusband makes a 6 figure income but can't even acknowledge his kids graduation/birthday with a gift or card. When I ask him "why" he says because he never wanted kids and lied to me before we were married so that I would marry him (grounds for annulment, according to him).
So what does a mother do or say to their kids when they are expressing a desire to see their father? BTW, their father was very active in their lives up until he turned 40 (and diagnosed bipolar). I remind them of his mental illness but they don't get it and frankly neither do I.
There's a point, when kids are young, where you need to protect them from what is. As they grow, it's important to allow them to know the truth, and to give them the tools to deal with, again, what is. When someone we love is not there for us, we need to find a way to acknowledge and process it, grieve what isn't, and finally come to terms and accept it. We need to help our children and teens learn to handle life, and move on. Otherwise, they'll stay stuck in blaming their issues and problems on a bad turn of events from their childhood.

I'm not saying you haven't tried to help them Joan, but my thought is there comes a time for us to help them stop staying stuck. Part of that is keeping their faith strong. Another part is tough love....I mean it's good to acknowledge that she misses her father, because she does. But it's been quite a few years that he's been an absentee father, so the idea that you stepped in to speak with him about this when you daughter is 25 is concerning. Give her a big hug. Acknowledge her sadness, but then look her in her eye and let her know how much her Heavenly Father loves her. That her Heavenly Father will never abandon her. He is the rock our kids need to be able to turn to, in times of happiness, sadness, stress, etc. Yes, it's wonderful when we have earthy fathers who fill this role as well, but ultimately, we need our kids to always know they can turn to God.

As adults, we also need to be aware of possibly being a part of the problem, inadvertently. You mention that you ask your ex "why"....and my question to you is why are you asking him why? How do you expect him to answer, especially knowing he has his condition. Heck, my ex has no "condition" and I wouldn't even consider asking him why he does the things he does to his kids.....namely because it's been years of him being who he is, and we've learned to adapt and move on. So with your ex, he is who he is. Accept who he is, pray for him. But stop relating to him in a way that he isn't able to reciprocate with. Move on, and help your adult children to do so as well.

When I think of one of our presidents, someone who had to drag his passed out drunk father into the house when he was 10, he had every right to stay stuck in feeling alone but instead found a way to accept life and give glory to God.

www.visionandvalues.org

Jun 18th 2013 new
First...sorry that you and your children had to experience this. certainly it's painful to deal with. My prayers are certainly w you and your struggles.

but moving along to solutions.....you can only control things in your life....same goes for your adult children. Share your faith with them, get them involved with other people who are healthy and good to have in your lives. Additionally make healthy choices yourself. Express your feelings, learn to cope, and move forward. your children are likely resiliant....help foster it....it may help you all in the long run.

good luck and God bless
Jun 19th 2013 new
Michelle --
First, a hug
I would be interested in your thoughts on this: Is it better for a father to have no contact at all with his young child rather than put his child through the routine of constant reunions and separations and the confusion of "where do I live today?"
Hearing what some families go through, I have to wonder if it's worth it....
Jun 19th 2013 new
(quote) Marge-938695 said: Michelle --
First, a
I would be interested in your thoughts on this: Is it better for a father to have no contact at all with his young child rather than put his child through the routine of constant reunions and separations and the confusion of "where do I live today?"
Hearing what some families go through, I have to wonder if it's worth it....
Obviously there is more to the story than I have shared here. I probably should have never posted my frustration on this forum as there is no way for anyone to know what we have been through, especially in regards to a former husband and father that is suffering from an untreated mental illness. I just really struggle with Father's Day as I feel I provided my kids with such a poor example of a "father", when his father is such a good example. Of course it is another one of those, "it just isn't fair". But of course we all know life isn't "fair". I have come to the realization that maybe my kids don't need a "good example" of a father as badly as their father needs a "good example" of a father. It is the only sense I can make of it all.
Marge, to answer your question as to a "young" child not have any contact with there father I think it depends on the situation. If the father is nurturing and desires to fulfill his duty as a father, then of course it is in the best interest of the young child to have contact with their father.


Jun 19th 2013 new
(quote) Michelle-640571 said: Well Said.... As an abandoned child there is nothing anyone can say that will soothe my heart. I have learned to accept it... But the theme is there and hurts.

I usually call and say Happy Father's day, this year I broke the trend. If my biological father can't even call to say Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, or any greeting at all he should not expect one back? Perhaps that is harsh, but I've grown past making him feel good.....

I love him and I won't disrespect him but the function of making a two minute phone call is even unnecessary. He won't have anything to say to me anyway.

Blessings,
Michelle.
Michelle,

Thank you very much for your empathy.

Blessings to you as well,
Joan
Jun 19th 2013 new
(quote) Joan-529855 said: What does a single mom do/say when a dad has disowned his children, who are now all in their 20's? 
BTW, their father was very active in their lives up until he turned 40 (and diagnosed bipolar). I remind them of his mental illness but they don't get it and frankly neither do I.
The following is based on the assumptions that his Bipolar Disorder is a significant issue in his life, it predates the breakup of your family, and it played a significant role in your divorce.

Much if not all of his behavior is likely connected to his Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar is particularly insidious because the afflicted may pass through periods of apparent normalcy. But what defines them is the extreme moods, the cognitive distortions, and the inappropriate coping behaviors that they bury themselves in. When properly medicated, they may achieve a more-or-less functional work life for awhile. But healthy relationships are extremely rare.

Your kids are now young adults. You need to start the process of helping them understand SOME of the grittier details of what is going on with their father.

What the experts say:

"Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness."

"The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown."

"There is no cure for bipolar disorder."

"Choice of medication can be difficult because all (bipolar) drugs have significant adverse effects, drug interactions are common, and no drug is universally effective."

"83% of cases of Bipolar Disorder are classified as severe."

"The course of severe unipolar and bipolar disorder seems to be progressive in nature irrespective of gender, age and type of disorder."

The chance for relapse is 73-87% within 5-years, "even with continual/aggressive medication".

You don't mention the elapsed time between onset and his diagnosis. For BD, it averages 7-10 years. That's bad. But even worse, the professionals say that characterological damage sets in after only 5 years of untreated symptoms.

"There is a high risk of suicide with bipolar disorder". (over 50% attempt; 20-30% succeed, mostly men)

Furthermore, Bipolar Disorder rarely exists alone. There are many other psych disorders (Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depression, PTSD, OCD, psychosis, etc.) and problematic behaviors (alcoholism, suicide, coping lies, impulsive gambling/shopping/eating, etc.) that are typically comorbid.

The cognitive distortions that are a part of the disorder usually result in a view of the world that is inherently disordered. Black becomes white. Reality is redefined so that they are "sane". Others are often blamed for everything that goes wrong. They often self-diagnose themselves as "all better" and stop their meds and therapy.

Frankly, IT IS A BLESSING that they are not exposed to his condition or to his dysfunctional family. Bipolar Disorder has both a genetic component and a nurture component. Your children need to understand the disorder so that they are prepared for whatever the future may hold for them. They each have at least a 30% chance of developing the disorder themselves.

Perhaps something along these lines:
"Your father has a very serious mental illness. When he was well, he loved you dearly. When he became ill, his old self that we loved and depended upon was lost to us. Remember the good man that he was. Pray that he cooperates with God's plan for him. But always remember that his present condition is NOT YOUR FAULT. Nor can you fix him or help him. That is not your job. He is in the hands of medical and psychiatric professionals. They are doing their best. Pray for them too."

Under the assumption that there were significant home life problems before and after he left, you may want to consider individual and family (group) therapy for yourself and your kids. Catholic Charities often offers such services, but you may have to ask around to find an insightful therapist with experience in the particulars of Bipolar.
Jun 19th 2013 new
Joan,

Big big hugs. It totally bites. I was seventeen when my father decided to leave the home and I was the oldest of five. I loved my dad, but he was completely self-absorbed, self-centered and selfish. He didn't show up for my graduation and only reluctantly paid for my graduation announcements as a loan until I got paid, and boy was he calling on my payday. I went to work full time my senior year (the year he left), in order to help my mom take care of my younger siblings. My dad struggled with an alcohol problem off and on throughout the years and became so involved in AA that we effectively didn't matter, only his sobriety and that of the people he helped. He also decided to live an alternative lifestyle. . .as in gay. I was so busy with school and working full time that I missed much of the encounters my younger siblings had with dad as a "gay" man. I wrote my father a letter one day telling him that I thought he was not gay but opportunistic and it just suited his wants at the time. He called me and said, I was right and we'd talk about it. We never did. We had little extended family, so losing that didn't play a significant role. I can remember after I married and stared having kiddos, he would occasionally pop by and I would be so very excited, I'd make coffee for him and hope he would stay and talk, because growing up we had done lots of talking. I'd no sooner set the coffee in front of him and he was up and out the door. My husband could barely tolerate him. And, I know it was because he knew it hurt me.

The last time I spoke with my father was when he was in the hospital at Christmas. My mother always kept the door open for him to come to family gatherings etc and he did several times, never staying long, but he would show occasionally. So, this Christmas we hoped we might see him, instead we got a phone call from one of his room mates saying he was in the hospital but didn't want us to know. Ironically, I was the executrix of his will, although he had nothing by then and was the contact for the medical board, as my dad had set up to donate his body to science. he changed the disposal of his remains from being returned to the family to being interred within the communal plot after cremation without telling us.

Anyway as the males were headed to the hospital and I was making phone calls, my dad calls, and tries to give me this song and dance of how he had tried to make relationships with us, but it just didn't work, etc. It was the first time in my life that I snapped back at my dad, I was 25, and I told him, the lack of relationship was on him not us and I would not carry that for him. It was the last time I ever spoke to my father, he died the following August. But, I had reclaimed something for myself. At that moment, I refused to allow his behavior to continue to influence me, I refused to allow him to define me and accepted the fact that he was too sick to be able to truly love anyone else. It of course makes me sad, but it is exceptionally liberating as well. Of course some things continue to haunt, but I can actively refuse to accept them.

It breaks my heart anytime children have to go through such losses, and the confusion associated with a parent who all of a sudden rejects them. I know you are doing everything in your power to help your children through this, and that it breaks your heart as well. Try if you can to empower them to speak their mind to their father, it may be like hitting a brick wall, but say it anyway. And, then let them reclaim their power in the situation. It won't completely erase the hurts believe me, but it can give them strength and allow them to measure their worth not by his rejection but by their own accomplishments. Your children are beautiful, beautiful gifts and it is his loss not to be in relationships with them, but he is so tangled he does not know this, nor can he appreciate this. I wish there was an easy answer to this, but there isn't. I will keep the situation in prayer. Big Big hugs!!
Jun 19th 2013 new
I have been reluctant to share this tidbit about me and the part I believe my mom played in my delayed ability to deal with my dad's abuse....physical and mental! This thread makes me think I'll share and see if it helps. As a young girl...the eldest of four girls...I was my dad's second favorite punching bag! Mom was his first! And mental abuse...some ugly and some "in your face" like not attending special awards programs when I took away most of the awards, not attending 8th or 12th grade graduations and choosing not to attend my wedding, which took place in another state, because it cost too much to send everybody! Did I mention that that summer was the one that a last minute decision was made to put aluminum siding onto the house and my in-laws paid for their son's wedding?! Daddy was sick and everybody....his large sibling family, included...knew but back then it wasn't acknowledged or treated. If a man struck his wife or kids...they probably provoked it and had it coming!

What part did my mom misguidedly play? The more she tried to defend or protect me...the more infuriated my father became and the more unreasonable things he did to goad her. Then she'd defend and protect, he'd do his meany routine, etc, etc. etc. I knew I was caught in the middle and asked her to please stop because she was easier for me to talk to. She believed she was being the perfect Mama-bear and would weep about her defense of me so much that I didn't know what to do. She was trying to help and I wasn't responding the way she wanted me to! I should be grateful in her eyes!

When I was 34 yrs old the whole sorry mess came to a head. They were divorced. Dad and new wife, Mom and her male companion, my three sisters and my then husband were at the same table in a fancy restaurant in Fairfax VA. The verbal crap began, Mom went into Mommy mode and I finally blew! I stood up and to the horror and shock of my family...and me....I loudly disowned both of parents in front of God, guests and anybody else who could hear. Furthermore, I announced that if that if they didn't leave me out of their long running battle royale I would never speak to either of them again. Then I stormed off in tears. Well it wasn't the prettiest way to finally defend MYSELF but it worked!

Dad began calling me just to see what and how I was doing! He wanted to go back and re-do and I told him to forget it....let's start here! Mom figured out that I had grown up and if she got out of my way and stopped using me, too, that I could do a pretty good job of taking care of myself!

Dad died 23 years ago and we had the opportunity to make our peace and move on. He became one of my biggest supporters when I split with my husband and in the years after that. He was finally "tuned in" to me is how I called it! I will never forget what he did earlier but understanding and forgiveness are so much easier and better on us humans. Mom is still alive and at 93 is one of the most fantastic women I've ever known. Visit her regularly out in IN....going next week as a matter of fact!

Bottom line...sometimes the seemingly right thing to do...isn't!







Jun 19th 2013 new
(quote) Sheila-953093 said: I have been reluctant to share this tidbit about me and the part I believe my mom played in my delayed ability to deal with my dad's abuse....physical and mental! This thread makes me think I'll share and see if it helps. As a young girl...the eldest of four girls...I was my dad's second favorite punching bag! Mom was his first! And mental abuse...some ugly and some "in your face" like not attending special awards programs when I took away most of the awards, not attending 8th or 12th grade graduations and choosing not to attend my wedding, which took place in another state, because it cost too much to send everybody! Did I mention that that summer was the one that a last minute decision was made to put aluminum siding onto the house and my in-laws paid for their son's wedding?! Daddy was sick and everybody....his large sibling family, included...knew but back then it wasn't acknowledged or treated. If a man struck his wife or kids...they probably provoked it and had it coming!

What part did my mom misguidedly play? The more she tried to defend or protect me...the more infuriated my father became and the more unreasonable things he did to goad her. Then she'd defend and protect, he'd do his meany routine, etc, etc. etc. I knew I was caught in the middle and asked her to please stop because she was easier for me to talk to. She believed she was being the perfect Mama-bear and would weep about her defense of me so much that I didn't know what to do. She was trying to help and I wasn't responding the way she wanted me to! I should be grateful in her eyes!

When I was 34 yrs old the whole sorry mess came to a head. They were divorced. Dad and new wife, Mom and her male companion, my three sisters and my then husband were at the same table in a fancy restaurant in Fairfax VA. The verbal crap began, Mom went into Mommy mode and I finally blew! I stood up and to the horror and shock of my family...and me....I loudly disowned both of parents in front of God, guests and anybody else who could hear. Furthermore, I announced that if that if they didn't leave me out of their long running battle royale I would never speak to either of them again. Then I stormed off in tears. Well it wasn't the prettiest way to finally defend MYSELF but it worked!

Dad began calling me just to see what and how I was doing! He wanted to go back and re-do and I told him to forget it....let's start here! Mom figured out that I had grown up and if she got out of my way and stopped using me, too, that I could do a pretty good job of taking care of myself!

Dad died 23 years ago and we had the opportunity to make our peace and move on. He became one of my biggest supporters when I split with my husband and in the years after that. He was finally "tuned in" to me is how I called it! I will never forget what he did earlier but understanding and forgiveness are so much easier and better on us humans. Mom is still alive and at 93 is one of the most fantastic women I've ever known. Visit her regularly out in IN....going next week as a matter of fact!

Bottom line...sometimes the seemingly right thing to do...isn't!







Thank you so much for sharing this as I am certain it was difficult for you. I don't believe this scenario could ever play out in our family, as least the restaurant scene, as we haven't spent anytime "together". I will watch for this though and avoid any such arrangement. He exited their lives 5 years ago and tries to make contact when he "needs" something but otherwise has pretty much been nonexistent. He certainly doesn't pay for ANYTHING (though he makes a 6 figure income) or help the kids out financially at all (they are all college students). His parents helped pay for his college expenses because he didn't get a scholarship (he was a "pothead" in high school). He makes too much money for his kids to get financial aid so they have to take out student loans. He really knows how to dig a grave for himself in regards to any possible future with them.
He is very volatile and verbal but I am not, so any incident as you described will probably not happen. I just walk away from those situations. Again thanks for sharing your experience.
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