Jo Ball

Article Summary:

Dealing with hurt feelings when the 'ex' doesn't show up.

Parenting in a Blended Family when the Children Get Hurt Feelings

Difficulties surrounding the 'ex' is one of the biggest areas of discontent for step-parents. As adults we can pretty much get on with the hassle (although at times we find it difficult to) but it always seems as though it's the children that really get hurt.

For example how do the children feel when they get let down by the absent parent? It might be a missed phone call, a missed appointment to be on MSN, a trip to the zoo, or a whole day or weekend.

I guess many of us have seen our children rise early, dress in their best clothes, put on their shoes an hour before contact begins, only for their other parent not to turn up.

So how do we deal with it?

First, realise that you can't make up for a mother or father who isn't being the best for their child. You can't control someone else, make them be nice or make them keep a promise. (Of course if there is any reason for concern for the safety of your child you need to seek help from the relevant professionals).

Sure it hurts to see the child upset, but all you can do is support them and offer them your love and support.

Second, do not get embroiled in it all. This is really tough when your child is upset. Try to take an emotional step back. You can support your child better from a calm and balanced place than from a place of ranting and raving calling their other parent all the names under the sun.

Taking a step back will help you to see the wood for the trees and not to impose your feelings or standards onto the child who is already feeling bad enough.

Be patient, be compassionate, offer love and support and don't get embroiled and you will find the chances of success rise.

Jo Ball, LCA, Dip, is a stepfamily coach and founder of The Stepfamily Coach that offers support and advice to divorced or separated parents and their new families. She's worked with many families helping them to move beyond the stress and strain of blending a family so they achieve happiness and harmony at home.

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