When people get divorced, relationships suffer. Obviously, you parents’ relationship is different, but it can also hurt your relationship with one or both parents. In some extreme circumstances, a parent may decide they don’t really want anything to do with you anymore. They can do this by their actions (spending little time with you) or come right out and and say it. The relationship suffers or dies because one of your parents isn’t interested in investing the time in having a relationship with you. This is unfortunate (tragic even), and you don’t deserve it, but if you do find yourself with a parent who doesn’t really seem to want to spend any time with you, you have to tackle that issue before we discuss ways of staying in touch.
You can’t make your parent want to spend the time with you that you might want to spend with them. Should they want to spend time with you? Yes. Is it unfair that they are no longer acting like a parent? Yes. Is it your fault that they don’t want to spend time with you? Absolutely not! Here are some things you need to remember and try if you find yourself with a parent who “just doesn’t have time for you:”
- Be realistic. Is it true that they aren’t spending any time with you, or is it just the case that they aren’t spending as much time with you as you would like. Many times after a divorce, schedules get hectic and parents end up working longer hours and running around more. The lack of time may be the result of that, and they may be missing spending time with you as much as you are missing spending it with them. In that case, hang in there. Explain to them that you miss spending time with them and wait for this season to pass. Try not to let the current distance harm your future relationship.
- Don’t blame yourself. You can’t change your parents. You didn’t make them the way they are, and you can’t make them switch. You can ask, but you can’t snap your fingers and make it happen. Understand that their decision not to spend more time with you is exactly that – THEIR DECISION. It is not a reflection on you as a person or as a son or daughter. Do not take the blame for someone else’s decision.
- Accept the fact that you can’t make your parent(s) change. Your Mom or Dad may never be the kind of Mom or Dad you want or feel like you deserve. You might never have the relationship with your parent that you feel like you should have. This isn’t as easy as it might sound, but once you finally accept this as true, you can spend your time trying to forge whatever kind of relationship you can based on who your parent is rather than who you want them to be. It also allows you to move yourself from being captive to an ideal to free to go on and become the person you want to be (something you do have some control over).
- Talk to your parent. What seems very obvious to you (that they aren’t spending enough time with you) might not even be on their radar. What’s the worse that can happen – they could confirm what you already believe (that they don’t want to spend time with you). That will hurt, but at least it will be out there on the table!
- Give it time. Just because your parent doesn’t seem interested today doesn’t mean that it will never change. Hopefully they will come to their senses and want to reverse the current trend. They may even come to the realization that they have hurt you and work to make up for that. You can’t make it happen (see #3 above) and you need to accept the current state of things, but that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon all hope. People change. Sometimes it is for the worse, but many times it is for the better.
- Find a trusted adult you can talk to. You won’t be able to replace your “missing” parent, and you shouldn’t try, but it’s important that you have adults in your life that you trust who can help you with things that your distant parent should be doing. It might be an aunt or an uncle, a family friends or someone from your church, but on the lookout for someone you can talk to and learn from.