Growing up as a child of divorce, I know the very real feelings of disappointment. My father was very absent in my and my sister’s lives, not because he didn’t love us – but because he struggled with addiction. Battling with the addictions of drugs and alcohol, he was always in and out of my life pretty much all of my childhood.
I remember the excitement of knowing I would get to see my dad on a specific day, followed by the hurt when he wouldn’t show up. This was a continuous cycle all throughout my childhood. It was also something that followed me into my adult years. Struggling with trust issues from men, and while I can’t blame my dad for choices I made as an adult – ultimately I was looking for a love and acceptance that I lacked in my childhood years.
Fast forward to a few years ago where through a WHOLE lot of prayer, and some inner healing, I was able let go of my pain of disappointment and forgive. I remember upon forgiving my father, I vowed my children would never experience the pain of disappointment. Wait, before you go saying things like “its a part of life” and “I am sheltering my children” let me clarify!
Yes, disappointment is a part of life and I do believe children need to experience disappointment – like losing a game they fought so hard to win as that too allows growth. What I do not think a child should ever have to experience is the raw and very painful hurt that comes from the disappointment of a parent. While parents aren’t perfect and we are bound to make mistakes there is a HUGE difference in breaking promises and continually not being there for a child especially when they need to feel the love and nurturing of both parents. I can speak first hand on the feelings of “why don’t they want to see me? Am I not good enough?”
Well, last night as I was cooking dinner, my middle bonus babe asked, “Are we going to see our mommy tomorrow?” As I turned to look at him, I recognized the fear and slight panic I could see on his face – he was thinking she wasn’t going to show. I responded with, “I don’t know bubs we haven’t heard from her.” Thinking that would be enough of an answer I went back to cooking. Shortly after he said, “Well can you text her.” Honestly I knew the answer, she was going to cancel, but I said “of course” and my husband texted her anyway.
As I crawled in bed, I couldn’t help but think about how my heart broke for my kiddos. Here I swore my children would never feel the hurt and pain and rejection from a parent and yet here we are…life out of my control again. I started to get angry, as I remembered all the feelings I dealt with and immediately I began to pray. I heard God say it was not in vain. My disappointment was not in vain; it was for such a time as this. While I can’t prevent the hurt they will ultimately deal with from cancelled visits or an absent parent, I can be the constant. I can show them unconditional love and I can help them sort through their feelings as they grow older.
If you’re a parent who has to see the hurt your child deals with from the other parent, keep showing them love. YOU are doing a good job. If you’re a step parent trying to figure out where you fit in, keep showing them constant love. YOU are doing a good job.