Dealing With An Absentee Ex? How Can You Help Your Children Cope?

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If you've recently divorced your child's other parent and are surprised and dismayed to find that your former spouse has taken on an absentee role, you may be feeling guilt, regret, and anger -- especially if your child becomes upset that he or she can no longer live in a two-parent home. What options do you have when it comes to helping your child deal with a parent's absence, as well as taking on the single-parent role yourself? Read on to learn more about some therapy and other assistance that will help you and your children emotionally cope with your ex-spouse's absence.

Investigate inexpensive therapy

A few sessions with a counselor or therapist can do wonders for your frame of mind regardless of how your ex-spouse is behaving after the divorce is finalized -- and fortunately, it's easier than ever before to get access to therapy at a low cost. If your employer has an employee assistance program (EAP), it may cover several sessions for free, and you may be able to attend a class or two sponsored by the court to help you learn some coping mechanisms for co-parenting with a difficult or absentee parent. Your health insurance plan may also cover some counseling, and it can be worthwhile to make a few phone calls to determine how much of this treatment you'll be able to get without shelling out any cash yourself. Parenting therapists will be able to help you and your children.

Be honest with your children

The amount of information you share with your children will largely depend on their ages and maturity levels -- but it's important to be honest and kind with them. And you should do it without badmouthing your ex-spouse. Regardless of what or how much you share with them, it's crucial to let them know that your ex-spouse's behavior has nothing to do with them or anything they've done (or not done). You'll also want to ensure they're aware of your unwavering love for them.

In addition to these communication measures, you may also want to search for mentors in your community. From teachers to after-school coaches or community programs, having a responsible adult to fulfill a mentorship or quasi-parental role can be crucial in your child's mental and emotional development after divorce. Both boys and girls can benefit from having a parent of the gender of his or her absent parent step in to fill this role, and this can prevent you from trying to seek new parental figures in the dating world.