Divorcing parents are always concerned about their children’s welfare and they often ask us for advice on easing their children’s path through the divorce process. One frequent complaint is that the other parent is choosing to ignore the kids or is putting them on the back burner. They make plans to be with the children, only to later change them or, worse, just fail to show up.
Sometimes these absent parents were also largely absent during the marriage. As I often say to my clients, “You weren’t able to change him/her when the two of you were together. What makes you think you can change him/her now that you’re apart?” The other bad news for these parents is that the court process is unlikely to be any more successful at changing them.
Most likely, the best you can do for your kids during the divorce is to support them in their relationship with their other parent. On the one hand, you need to refrain from making negative statements about the other parent, either to the kids or in front of the kids. You won’t benefit; the other parent won’t benefit; most importantly, the kids will suffer. On the other hand, you can’t lie to the children. They are observing both parents’ behavior, even if their observations consist of waiting for a parent to call or show up. You can’t make excuses for the other parent. Your kids may benefit from using a counseling service such as Kids In the Middle.
At the end of the day, you need to be a good, consistent parent, let the other parent act as they will, and not try to retaliate or change the other parent. There is no legal recourse. The law can’t make someone be a good parent.