When you have experienced a broken relationship, it is still important to support your spouse or ex-spouse as a parent. Children feel the pain of broken marriages and even try to take the burden upon their own shoulders. As the parent, it is your job to step up to the plate, give your children a soft place to fall during the emotional journey, keep them out of the middle, help them to heal, and to advocate for a strong relationship with the other parent.
As I begin to write, It is Father's Day. It has been over 4 years since my now ex-husband left our family. At first, he was very inconsistent in our boys' lives. Over a two-year period, they stayed with him only a hand full of times. He only occasionally visited them at our home and phone calls were sporadic as well.
At first, I was an emotional wreck and unable to help myself, much less my boys. I was blessed to have family and special friends around that supported us and helped to fill in the gap until I got myself together. My daddy was always a rock of consistency in their lives, and he really stepped up to be there for them during this time.
As time passed, I grew stronger and spent time seeking God. I wanted to help my children to heal. We prayed together for their father regularly. You see, regardless of our marital problems he was still their dad. I knew it was important for him to be a part of their lives and that there was no one else that could take his place.
A righteous man who walks in his integrity; How blessed are his sons after him. -Proverbs 20:7
Finally in April of 2011, there were many changes in our lives. My daddy had been very sick and hospitalized. While he was in the hospital, my divorce was finalized. One week later, I was supposed to go pick him up from the therapy rehabilitation center. Instead, he took a turn for the worse and was placed back in the hospital ICU. My boys were both home sick with a nasty stomach virus, and I didn't have anyone to watch them. So, I called their dad at work. At first he said he couldn't leave. Then he called back, stepping up to the challenge.
Soon after arriving at the hospital, I found out my dad wasn't going to make it. I called my boys and asked their dad to bring them to say their good-byes. After some time alone with my daddy and my boys, I took them back to their dad. I saw a rare sight.
Their dad was an emotional wreck. I approached to ask him if he'd like to say good-bye to my daddy. I walked him back, and I witnessed something I will never forget. I watched him walk in and wrap his arms around my daddy as he fought back the tears. I can still hear the words that he spoke to him. He said, "I am so sorry for the hell I put your family through. I love you, and thank you for being the most amazing man in my boys' lives."
From that moment forward, he was different as a father. He supported our boys through the loss of their poppy. They regularly go to stay with him. He attends their special activities and games. He truly supports me as their mother, and makes sure that the boys are well cared for. He is truly an active part of their lives again. If anything good could come from my father's death, he would be pleased to see that the boys have an active relationship with their dad again.
So today, I sent him the following message as a thank you for his role as a father. I'm truly grateful for his role in our children's lives.
I just wanted to wish you a very Happy Father's Day! It's hard to believe how quickly our boys are growing up. As their dad, you are the most important role model in their lives. At the beginning of our split up, your input in their lives was inconsistent. I understand that was a confusing and rocky time in your life. I'm very thankful that you are now active and a vital part of their lives. I'm very proud of you for how you have stepped up to the plate despite the obstacles. They are blessed to have you and be loved by you! I am very proud of the father you've become, and I will ALWAYS support you having an active, strong relationship with them. Thank you for all you do for them and for supporting me as their mother. Enjoy your special day and know that you are appreciated!
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