Family Law Blog

When a Mother or Father Opts Out of Parenthood Following a Divorce

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Divorce has tremendous effects on the partners involved. These adults face a loss that accompanies dissolution of their union. Fortunately, they can choose from a myriad of resources to help them adjust to their new lives without their former partner. Children of divorced families face difficult changes as well. Unfortunately, this can include the greatest of children's issues during a divorce, the loss of the ongoing presence of one of his parents.

Regrettably, there are many situations in which one parent abandons his child. If this parent chooses to forgo his relationship with the child, it is up to the remaining parent to help the child cope. Learn how to help him deal with this heartbreaking loss.

Communication is vital when a parent leaves following a divorce. Be as honest with your child as possible regarding the situation without overwhelming him with details. He will ask whether the other parent will return. Again, be truthful and tell him that you do not know if or when that will happen. Reassure him that YOU will not leave. Encourage the child to talk about his emotions. Listen to him talk and validate his feelings accordingly. Let him know he is not to blame for the divorce and/or the other parent's absence.

Set up a routine following the divorce. Children need structure to feel safe and stable. Enlist the aid of other adults to help establish a "new normal". For instance, teachers, coaches, and mentors are often invaluable at this time. If possible, keep your child in the same school and in the same activities as before. Balance the schedule with "downtime" so your child does not become unduly stressed and has time to reflect.

Look for changes in behavior or mood that commonly occur with kids abandoned by a parent. Often, children will act out in reaction to a parent leaving. They are angry and sometimes do not handle their emotions appropriately. Do not, however, use the other parent's absence as a justification for misbehavior. Discipline the child as necessary but let him know you understand his frustrations. Provide him with outlets such as athletics or arts which can help him direct what he is feeling in a positive manner.

Finally, be willing to find professional help for your child. This includes counseling for him alone and both of you collectively. An experienced therapist can teach you how to handle the difficulties your family faces. Stick with treatment even if you do not see immediate results. Divorce and abandonment produce serious issues which require long-term treatment for your child and yourself.

Contact us when you need to know more.