One of my personal battles, that I deeply struggle with, as I coach left-behind spouses in a midlife crisis, is the confused child or teen. My heart crumbles when I hear stories or feelings of the children. How can any parent leave the home where they have their children?
One of the reasons I fought harder for my marriage is because I couldn’t imagine life without them in my home 24/7? Having to “share” them with another woman married to my kids’ dad made me physically ill and questioning my sanity, “Huh?” It was so odd and just so wrong that I knew something was seriously happening to my own spouse who would leave our home to “be happy” away from our children? That just wasn’t the guy I married. The guy I married would NEVER leave. He would never have an affair too. It was those realizations that made me state, I can never give up.
ALL children, like it or not, all children innocently watch Dad and Mom every day, every moment, for a living. This is how they learn to be adults themselves, watching us. Then when a parent bails….walkouts….or goes on, “do their own thing” in another place or town kids are left with their mouths and brains open wondering, “WTF?”
And the reasons? These kids are told baloney excuses: Well…we fell out of love. Dad wants something different. Mom wants to find herself. Dad isn’t happy. Mom isn’t happy. We just don’t get along. We just decided we want different things.
KIDS JUST DON’T CARE.
“My Wife is Making Trouble! My Kids Never Call Me!”
I always think it odd that a leaving spouse feels his kids must call him because he left? And if the kids don’t call him, surely it’s the wife creating havoc for talking bad about him. Huh? Kids don’t call Dad or the spouse that left because…they left. The kids have better things to do with their life and remembering to call a parent who isn’t around is not one of them. They are also too busy worrying about their own existence changing and then watching the one parent that still is home to make that that one isn’t showing signs of leaving either.
Phone Etiquette? Let’s Be Clear:
If the wandering spouse EVER expects your child to pick up a phone and call you to connect with you, I’m here to tell you THAT IS NOT THEIR JOB. Ever. Shame on you, for even expecting a child to play that role. YOU are the parent. They are the kid, trying to just be a kid. But the leaving parent screwed that up for them. Just know, these poor kids are NOT trying to figure out how to worry about what the parent thinks of them?? NEVER. It’s your marriage that is having trouble, leave them out of it and pick up the phone like a responsible parent and call your own kid – often!
Parent Alert: Your kids don’t care if you are happy or not happy or fallen in love or out of love or want to fly Jupiter. They just want their cacoon secure. That means mom and dad to love each other and stay together so nothing they knew that made them feel safe and comfy will change. That’s all they care about. They do not give a crap if you are happy. Ever.
Leaving Spouse says: “The Kids Will Get over it.”
Are you high? Spouses who say this are delusional because they want to believe the kids will be fine so they can feel better. Kids NEVER get over a parent deciding to leave the family. EVER. In fact, some adults never get over their parent leaving as adults!
Want a little insight into this madness? The below letter/text comes from a teen daughter who faced intense difficult health challenges and then as she was finally healed, watched her dad leave her mom for another woman last year. The dad has tried to introduce the daughter to this new “woman” and says to his wife that he just doesn’t understand why their daughter is so angry and won’t keep in touch with him….
A Teen Daughter Writes to Her MLC Dad
“I already understand everything that you have done. I understand that for 15 years of my life you were there. You were “the one and only” to me. The person I looked up to and loved with every part of me. The first face I ever wanted to see after a surgery or a painful treatment. I understand that you were there. Which is why it hurts so much that I only see you once a month if that. It hurts so much to think that I was the source of all of your pain and struggles when you were here. That’s why every time I see you, I cry. That’s why every time you come, I can’t stand to look you in the face. That’s why it’s so hard for me to sleep at night because I worry that you aren’t okay or doing well. That’s why I can’t focus on anything other than trying to figure out a way to get you back and understand everything that happened. So you know what? You are right. I am a horrible person for hurting you when you were here and I’m horrible for wanting my daddy there for me. To see me out on my first date. To be there when I woke up from my last surgery. And to be there when I’m having hard days. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry that I wasn’t everything and more that you needed or wanted me to be when you were here.”
I cry every time I read this. What an amazing brave letter of heartfelt truth of feelings a teen has been able to verbalize. If you have a teen in your home, guaranteed she or he is feeling similar, even if they say nothing or tell you, “I’m fine!”
If you have a spouse who left or disappeared or is around but living elsewhere…you make SURE you share with your kids the following….
Below is a very specific dialogue that you take from this page below and memorize and make it part of your vocabulary to say to your kids every frigging day! They NEED you, the sane parent, to BE a SAFE ground! Your kids can’t be kids if they don’t feel safe. They will end up screwed up later in their own lives or marriages if you don’t act fast. Because those nasty unsettling feelings of not knowing, really understanding, what is going on with their nest, their safe cacoon, has so many detrimental endings that will grab your kids like parasitic cancer that you must take action NOW.
You can’t control your husband or your wife, but you can control you. So don’t think this is going away. And I know it sucks that you have to be the responsible parent to do this job while your spouse is running around like a wild teenager having what you think is a blast.
Things to Do, Memorize and Say:
- You wait till you are face to face with your child/teen. I want you to look them in their eyes and smile big and tell them, “I think you are the most beautiful person in the whole world.” Tell them over and over and over and over. They may roll their eyes, push you away or tell you that you are crazy, but one day…one day…when you are gone and they are alone with their thoughts, they will remember your words telling them that they are beautiful and it will give them hope.
- When they are going to bed as you look at them (and they look away) you give them a hug you hold them tight and whisper in their ear and with 100% certainty you say, “I want you to know, whatever happens in this house – I will NEVER EVER LEAVE YOU.” If they are a teenager and pull away, You could even humorously add, “Even if I die, I’m not going…I’m going to be around you stalking you till you have grandkids!” And if they laugh you say, “I’m NOT KIDDING!”
- When they are going to school or walking away from you to go to a sporting event or off with a friend, you MUST tell them: I love you! Say that always and often. 200 times a day. You can never say those words too much to a child. But it must be said with meaning and with eye contact. Even if they aren’t looking at you – you look at them.
- When they do something bad or wrong or upset you, say My favorite: “There is NOTHING you can do that will make me not love you!”
- At bedtime, if you believe in God…make a cross on their forehead and tell them, “Whenever you feel alone, or lonely, remember God is always walking with you…” Then kiss them on their forehead where you put that cross!
- Hug when you see them, hug when you leave them, hug when you wake up, hug when you go to bed! Hug! Hug! Hug!
- Selfies of you and your kids. One day they will look back on this time and if every phone during this time is of them laughing and smiling with you, their sane parent, YEAH!! They will remember only the good from the photos! And think – Life wasn’t that bad back then!
- Get out of the house….take them on “adventures” and go do things together. Make memories!! Like the one I made below!
I made the below video 3 months before my husband started his affair in March 2013. He was already in the angry stage and had pulled away and I was so concerned with my kids being okay…that I did things, anything fun to make memories! And even made a video to save the memory.
So make memories!!! LIKE NOW!!! Make a Video!! Take Selfies with them! Set your alarm on your phone to remind you! Daily! Like NOW!! Your kids won’t be young forever and YOU get to have them!!!