Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tips on How To Deal With an Absent Parent

As you may have read in my previous post trips to Florida can be tough.

This trip I timidly reconnected with my past and then people really upset me when they did this but what was most bizarre to me was that after 3 years plus of Lifetime movie worthy terribleness Leilani, her father, and I all spent the day together.

When her father and I were together we RARELY ever spent a family day together so doing so when we are no longer a family was weird. However, it was a nice day and for once in a long time Leilani had both of her parents with her for a whole day.

Hearing Leilani being able to say daddy and get a reply, seeing him help her do everyday things, and simply watching them be together makes me happy because I know it makes her happy. In a perfect world Leilani would always have both of her parents by her side whenever she needs us but that's not the case.

The truth is I can't and don't want to be her father.
That's his job and whether he chooses to accept it or not is his decision.

What I can do and have done is learn to live within my parenting capacity and help her navigate the feelings she may have when it comes to his absence.

It hasn't always been easy but here are some tips I can offer for anyone dealing with a absent, seasonal or part-time parent:

How To Deal With an Absent Parent:

  • You can't force someone to be a parent: as simple as that sounds I found that I was trying to force him to parent her but the truth is you can't force anyone to do anything especially be a parent. 
  • You can't make someone be the parent YOU want THEM to be: I have come to realize that parenting is a spectrum and each person defines parenting their own way. My definition of being a parent is clearly different from his and as much as I want him to be the parent I want HIM to be for her, he can only be the parent he wants to be for her. 
  • Focus on your parenting: Make sure that while you're wanting or trying to get a less than involved parent involved that you aren't slipping in your parenting. 
  • You can only be one parent: For a long time I thought I had to make sure I was enough of a mom and a dad to make up for his absence but that's just crazy. I'm me. Only me and I'm pretty awesome at being one parent. 
  • Do NOT bad mouth in front of the kid: Yes it's hard to bite your tongue but your child shouldn't see their parents fighting or trashing each other it's not fair to them and it might make them think YOU'RE the meany because you're the one talking negativity 
For more tips and a great blog on navigating the world of co-parenting check out Alexandra A blog by a former teen mom who rocks at being a mom.