An Open Letter To Men Who Abandon Their Children After Divorce
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By Terrie Vanover, Guest Author - September 08, 2017

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Dear Absent Fathers,

Your children don’t have the ability to articulate their feelings and as someone who was abandoned by her father, I’m here as their voice. This letter is not written to shame you, it’s written out of love. A love from a daughter to her father that doesn’t even know her.

I’m writing to let you know that your children still need you. Perhaps you’ve moved on to a new family or to a new life. Maybe you feel that your children have got a good mother and you’re thinking to yourself, “She’ll take care of them. They don’t need me.” Maybe in some way you have justified that moving on and leaving them with their mother, perhaps even a new stepfather, would be better for your children. 

Well, you’re wrong. Your children DO need you.

And they always will. My father abandoned my sister and me as preschoolers. We saw him on and off for a few years. A few hours here and there over the years. Just like approximately thirty percent of children of divorce, my parents’ separation meant a permanent separation between us and our Father. Now, as an adult woman who hasn’t seen her father in over 25 years, there’s still an emptiness in my heart.

Like the other three in ten children of fathers who abandoned their children, I contemplated suicide as a young person. I questioned whether I was worthy of love. Deep rooted feelings of unworthiness and doubts still haunt me from my childhood. If my own father doesn’t love me, how could another man? I pray that your children will never question the love you have for them or whether they are worthy of love at all.

Perhaps your ex-wife is making things difficult. She hates you and she’s poisoning your children against you. She tells you that the children hate you and don’t want to see you. You don’t want to deal with the drama and the negativity. Deal with it. Your children are worth it. They want you to fight for them. If dealing with their horrible mother is the price to pay for spending time with them, then, dammit, they are worth it. In the long run, when you have a rewarding relationship with your children, you’ll be glad you endured.

Maybe somewhere in your head, you’ve rationalized that your children are better off without you.

But when the dust settles and the divorce is behind you, your children will still love their father and seek love from you. Right now, they may be lashing out. They feel the anger and the bitterness of divorce-only they lack the tools and maturity to understand it. Be patient. It may take time for them to come around. Be there for them when they mature enough that they are ready for a relationship with you.

Stay open and available to them. Let the barbs and stings that they throw at you make you stronger for them. If you give up and allow the negativity to win, your children will lose. They’ll wonder why you didn’t fight for them. Always reach out and say that you are there for them when they are ready.

Find the support and resources you need to navigate this process. Help is out there. If you want to build your relationship with your children, find a counselor or a divorce coach to support you through the process. Do what is needed, sacrifice your ego, and find your way to them. Give your children the unconditional love of a father. You’ll never regret it.

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