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Why Did Daddy Leave Us? Because Daddy Is an Asshole

The blog Scary Mommy ran a moving essay by Eden Strong entitled “Why Did Daddy Leave Us?” Strong runs a blog called “It’s Not My Shame to Bear.”

Familiar territory for us chumps, eh? Abandonment. Heartache. Explaining the workings of a disordered parent to an innocent child. Been there, done that, had the custody trials…

Strong writes:

“I love you. I am so sorry that daddy made a choice that hurt us when he left, but this was not your fault. He is not a bad person, he just made a bad choice that hurt a lot of people and I am really sorry that it hurt you. I love you. I love you more than any daddy ever will because I will always love you the most!”

That’s what I said, but what I wanted to say, what was rolling around in my brain and filling up my heart in ways that hurt so much I was sure my heart might actually explode, sounded more like this;

“Daddy left us because he is selfish. He left because he never should have had kids in the first place. I wish every day that he could see the damage that he has done to you, the damage that he has done to our family. He is a horrible excuse for a human being, he is a waste of working organs, I hope we never see him again, and quite frankly we are all better off now that he is gone.”

But really, what do you say to the wide eyes brimming with tears that are looking up to you? What do you say to a child who carries half the DNA of a person that causes your heart the daily battle of learning to forgive?

This is such a no win.

He is a bad person. Why did Daddy leave us? Because Daddy is an asshole. That’s the sucktacular thing about this situation. If you go with the “he’s a good person” narrative, you have to gaslight your own kid. Daddy is demonstrably NOT a good person. Love shows up. You go with that crap of “daddy’s not a bad person, he just made a bad choice that hurt a lot of people” your kid is going to naturally wonder what bad people actually look like if they aren’t people who chose to hurt others. Who does this? Good people?

The fairy tale children’s lit is pretty clear on this. The Big Bad Wolf blows down your house. The witch poisons the princess with a poison apple. The wicked stepmother doesn’t let Cinderella go to the ball.

They’re villains because they do villainous things. Nobody is putting footnotes in there about how the wolf was badly misunderstood and wasn’t getting his needs met, which necessitated destroying homes. No, character is understood through ACTIONS. Children intuitively understand that bad people do bad things.

Oh, but as adults we’re supposed to have a more nuanced view of the world. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Things aren’t so black and white.

I don’t know, call me stupid, but I think abandoning children is BAD. It makes you a BAD PARENT, a bad person, and someone I never want to sit next to on a park bench. I don’t want to smell the stench of your narcissism. I don’t want to read your Facebook posts about your self-inflicted pain and your fabulous younger girlfriend who gets you, and your yoga retreats. I think you suck.

But your child doesn’t. No, that kid still wants to love you. Poor kid. Poor little chump.

What do you tell that kid? Daddy is not a bad person, he just made a bad choice?

You do that, your child has to do the mental gymnastics of reconciling love with abandonment. The friction of that kind of cognitive dissonance fucks people UP. I bet most of you reading this blog had some kind of childhood message that people who hurt you didn’t really intend to hurt you. Who are you to have boundaries against people who hurt you? Just make your needs smaller, don’t offend, eat the shit sandwiches. Comfort yourself with the notion that despite the evidence, really deep, deep down there somewhere this hurtful person LOVES you.

Made you perfect bait, didn’t it? By adulthood you’re just so used to a fucked up kind of love that doesn’t really look like love. The kind of love that “hurts lots of people” but isn’t BAD.

But the alternative sucks too! Tell your child that Daddy is bad, you risk alienating parental affections. You rock their little worlds. They aren’t ready for nuanced morality. They want the steady narrative that Daddy is still a good person who loves them. Which means that you — you the person Daddy walked out on too — YOU have to fight against the child’s natural conclusion that if Daddy is GOOD, I must be a very bad child, and that’s why he left. Of course, every day you fight your own thoughts that YOU weren’t worthy, you weren’t enough. So you fight the battle for both of you — Daddy left, but it doesn’t mean we’re BAD.

It just means Daddy is indifferent to us. And indifferent to his responsibilities. We don’t really matter to Daddy.

But you can’t say that.

No, you have to bolster that kid day in and day out. You have to show up and do your damn parenting job. Love shows up. Every day you punch that attendance card, because you love.

So how do you explain an AWOL parent to a child? You don’t. It’s not explainable.

Moreover, I would argue it’s not your job to explain it. Your job is to pick up the pieces and do your damn parenting job in spite of their absence. Your job is to demonstrate your love in the love language of cleaning up barf, and making dioramas at 1 a.m., and packing lunches. Your job is to be there, and not explain some fucktard’s absence.

I think you simply say, “I have no idea how or why your father did this, but I am here for you, and I would never leave you.” It’s the truth.

The child has to figure out their own relationship with the crappy, missing parent.

Oh and it will just kill you to watch it. You’ll want to throw yourself on those grenades of abandonment. The father who promises to come to the kid’s violin recital and never shows. Then makes some lame excuse over the phone and your kid chokes down his disappointment and says quietly, “Oh, that’s okay.” The guy who cancels Thanksgiving last minute because he’s going to a wedding that weekend with his girlfriend instead. The dad who hasn’t talked to his son in over a year, and doesn’t even text on Christmas or his birthday.

These are just vignettes from my life. I’m sure you can add your own horrors of oblivious, selfish non-parenting. I file these problems under “The Unending Punishment of Breeding with a Fucktard.”

Eventually your kid figures it out. Daddy sucks.

It’s NOT the end of the world, people! I know it feels that way, but your child figuring out the limitations of a parent’s “love” is NOT going to kill them. I’m a little further out than many of you here, almost an empty nester, and I can tell you that life WILL reconstitute itself for your children just like it did for you. You trusted that they suck, and survived, and your kids will too.

My son has a lousy, mentally ill father. BUT he has me. I’m not perfect (apparently I don’t buy the right sort of frozen pizza), but I show up. I love. My son has his grandfather, his coach, his boss (who is teaching him construction). He’s got a bunch of solid, decent men in his life. Most of all he has his step-dad who models integrity and showing up too. Who shows my son what it is to treat a woman right.

So many blessings! We cannot control the missing, shitty parent. But we CAN fill our child’s life up with the blessings of good people. We can model what healthy love looks like. And that begins with never, ever confusing abandonment with real love.

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  • Love this!
    And the reality is, there are many good men out there willing to model good behavior to the kids. I have some really awesome guys in my life, my brother, uncles, friends, and even great neighbors that have stepped up the the plate to spend time with my boys and teach them about life. For all of them, I am so thankful.

  • Winner winner chicken dinner!!

    My dad left for OW when I was 8. Every time I was hurt or upset by his actions my mom would say, “he’s your father and he loves you.” That’s what I got for explanation. Every.single.time. By age 11, right about the time when dad and stepmonster decided to breed a little narcissist and turn my room into the guest room, I stood up and said enough. I didn’t see him for 6 years. No phone calls, no showing up, just a card every birthday and Christmas. Even when my grandfather died, no call, just a sympathy card 3 weeks after the fact.
    If you ask him, it was all my decision to not see him. He tried so hard, but my mom turned him against me. He ordered my grades from my school and he would brag to his friends about what a good little daughter he had always failing to mention that whole “oh but we don’t speak ever and I have now idea what she is actually like other than her grades part”

    He reentered my life when step monster decided to find another man. I was 17. He caught me right after a 4 day religious retreat I had been on as of my catholic, forgiveness, shit sandwich eating high school. Well don’t ya know, 17 years later, his mom is dying and I am the one showing up to empty her house and make her comfortable. Currently, my new stepmom(who is strangely like my actual mom) has a dying mother and where is he? Hmmm sailing his boat in another state.what an asshole.
    I’ve asked him for exactly 4 things in my adult life. Failed to deliver.

    The amusing part now is when venting to my mother her response is ” well he’s an asshole, what do you expect?” Wish I had that lesson as a kid, would have saved me a horrible marriage.

    So happy I didn’t have kids with my ex douchebag, but at 35, I am scared I will miss the boat on the fertility thing. We will see what happens.

    • Me too as for your last bit about kids and the fertility boat and “We’ll see” is my current take on it too.

  • Thank for this post today…this is what I am struggling with most right now. My kiddos are 17 and 18 and able to see for themselves that dad sucks. And I refuse to gaslight them any longer. My therapist told me a few years ago when I was still gaslighting them and trying to patch a relationship together between them and their father, who obviously couldn’t care less about spending any time with them, that if I continued to tell them that, contrary to his actions (and sometimes words), that their father really did love them, that they would look at me one day and know that I had been lying to them and wouldn’t trust me. So I stopped the lying and gaslighting. I let them figure it out and they did. D-day just happened two months ago and even though all the advice out there is to shelter the kiddos from the truth, because of their ages, I told them he was having an affair. I answer their questions honestly when they ask. I don’t go overboard in sharing unnecessary bits of info (guess what, daddy has a membership with Ashley Madison). I feel that they deserve the truth and I struggle because I keep being told to not tell it to them…to protect their relationship with this fucked-up excuse for a man. Why is it my responsibility to monitor, manipulate or have anything to do with his relationship (or lack thereof) with his children. That’s his responsibility. My relationship with them is my responsibility. When I tell them the truth I also tell them they deserve so much better, but that he is not capable of any better and may never be. That what is happening is in NO WAY their fault, that he’s a sick, disordered person who will continue to hurt anyone unfortunate enough to step into his life. The truth is what we all deserve so that we can make the best possible choices for ourselves.

    • Yes, I got to keep the “Daddy met Owife on Ashley Madison” to myself as well. My kids have been fine with “on the internet” so far, but I’m wondering if they’ll want to know more as they get older and become more familiar with the internet and the places it can take you for all manner of unsavory thrills… 🙁

  • Wow ..needed this today!! Ex is currently on vacation with his AP and has paid zero child support..moved out of state and has seen his children exactly one time in 10 months!!! He chose one of his AP who had children to move in hurtful to his children. He manipulates them to love him by saying he hates the new children and doesn’t do anything for them..what a swell guy!!! I feel desperate at times to juggle schedules and comfort all but some days it is overwhelming!! What kind of man does this to his children!!

  • My chaplain supervisor from my residency suggested me that it is harder to be the one left than the one who leaves. This is because we did not make the decision but have to deal with the aftermath nevertheless. I agree with this suggestion from my own experience with my xW abandoning me.

    Good post, CL. I hope such understanding becomes more main stream. The path of destruction is wide and touches too many innocents.

    • I agree but please let me say that leaving is incredibly hard. I am speaking from experience, it would have been eaiser to stay in a bad relationship than leaving. My point is, it takes two to make or break a marriage, so all the blame CANNOT fall on one.

  • File this comment under the heading, “It Could Be Worse.” Although CL often points out that this isn’t a Pain Olympics, those of us that have spouses (in my case a serial cheating ex-wife, mother to my two biological sons) that stay very active in our kids’ lives envy those of you who with disappearing spouses. As much as it must hurt to see disappointment in your children’s eyes when when they feel abandoned, it also hurts to see your kids dragged down by a shitty parent’s shitty parenting. In my case, this included a lack of boundaries and active encouragement of bad habits and crappy values that contributed to my kids having troubles over the course of years with bad grades, obesity, drugs, and a girl friend’s unwanted pregnancy among other issues. My kids made lousy choices to be sure, but they would’ve been so much available to good counsel if they hadn’t had contrary ideas whispered in their ear at every turn.

    All to say, as crappy as the disappearing parent might be, it’s plenty bad for the crappy parent to stick around as well. As someone posted very eloquently yesterday, it is a hallmark of life with cheaters that they constantly leave you with choices among horrible alternatives.

    • This is exactly my fear!! I Disneyland Parent is harmful. I say no, she says yes. I discipline, she rewards. And all the while acting like no harm was ever done and all is just peachy.

    • nomar, in my 2 adult kids eyes, I am the shitty/crappy parent and they have told me so in no uncertain manner that I am crap. My ex husband planned my exit from our 37 year marriage before I knew what hit me, but to everyone looking in from the outside, I left him and the kids, so therefore I am to blame for the collapse of my family. I raised my kids as their sire had no interest at all and I spackled over everything like there was no tomorrow.My daughter will not have a bar of me literally and we have not spoken for 4 years, even though I have reached out to her. My son has called me everything no Mother should hear and he has done something so awful I know I will never get over it and he is now ignoring me completely. However, my door is still open to my kids but the ex was out of the blocks so quick and set the narrative, so I didn’t stand a chance. I have not deviated from the path that we set out on over 40 years ago and he is off having sex with young women older enough to be his great grand daughters and our kids know of this and yet they prefer him to me. They are also aware that he misappropriated funds from a bank and was caught 6 weeks before my son was born. But I am the crappy parent. I have to stop myself from thinking of how I have been treated or it brings me back down.

      • Oh, Maree — huge hugs to you. You have done nothing to deserve such treatment from your children.

        • ANR, I know what a good mother and wife I was. I came from such an awful upbringing that I was determined my kids would never know what I had growing up. It meant absolutely nothing in the scheme of things. I think in the end it comes down to character and strength of character. Otherwise I am stumped and still very sad. Not for the ex but for my kids.

          • Maree, I have a similar situation. My ex started cheating on me years before our divorce and I was in a constant state of confusion and self-blame wondering why he had turned in to such a monster (let me be clear, a monster plus, he was already monster-like). The truth about his affair came out 4 months after our divorce but I swear he staged the whole thing, and kept it secret, so that it looked like I was the family destroyer, because I did file for divorce and made things finally happen, without knowledge of his affair. My kids were very angry during that process and I was a wreck (though 19-year-old was at college). Nothing compared to DDay, however, which really sent me into a tailspin. A tailspin but also a gift because everything began to make sense, to add up. This feeling lasted for a few days and then the real betrayal and strong emotions kicked in (I am really struggling big time). Currently, my 19-year-old daughter stays with my ex and 15-year-old daughter stays full-time with me. I think that has set everybody up in “camps” so to speak, which is terribly painful when I dwell on the loss.

            I told both of my kids about the affair right away because they had been vomiting on me and dumping their anger and blame severely. Pre-DDay, I felt that their anger and disrespect was related to the destruction of their family and selling of their home and the inexplicable divorce (it was all so surreal for years, his bizarre reactions, interrupting me, not willing to work on anything, the instant anger and criticism-of course, my knowledge of the affair was the missing piece to this dysfunctional puzzle). Unfortunately, post DDay, my kids still mistreat me, are disrespectful, and my 19-year-old won’t speak to me and said she “doesn’t care about dad’s relationships.” What I thought would help her to understand has made everything worse in a way. My 15-year-old is a different story; she reacted, I felt, with normal anger and grief and really seemed to get it and it did help her behavior towards me (minus the fairly typical teenage stuff).

            I am heartsick over my 19-year-old though and do not understand how she can continue to idolize her father. He is a very slick narcissist, super convincing, very smart, full of blaming behaviors and justification. He can pretty much convince anyone of anything the way he twists and turns the truth and appears so sensitive and understanding. But I know what lies behind the mask. A master manipulator who kept his affair so secret that I was unable to make informed decisions during divorce proceedings and consequently did not receive alimony, child support, and lost my home that the kids grew up in. (Sidebar, OW was a woman I confronted and had contact with who vehemently and defensively denied everything related to my inquiry regarding the exorbitant amount of time they were spending doing recreational activities together, and despite me physically catching them in their first lie about 2 1/2 years ago).

            All of that reeks and in a way I understand my kids reactions. Why would they respect me? Due to my own psychological reasons and co-dependency, I allowed someone to emotionally abuse me on a daily basis (he was very condescending, contemptuous, judgmental, and verbally abusive). The sad thing is this man is my children’s role model (and they were very close to him growing up because he was the fun one and I was actually doing the real discipline, care taking, and parenting) and I can see them mimicking his behavior. Just tonight my 19-year-old said in a text, “Do not add my friends on Facebook. That is inappropriate,” which is so like her dad’s way of speaking to me (authoritarian). She also texted me a few weeks ago and said that she loved me and wanted a relationship but not until I deal with my issues and until that happens she wants no contact. I don’t even know what she is talking about because I was super mom (seriously, in the top 10 percent of mothers), like you Maree. I did everything for my children, stayed home, read all the parenting books, volunteered regularly in their classrooms. Also, Maree, I had a similar painful and rough childhood so I was determined to be the best mom I could and provide all the love and attention to them that I did not get. I never wanted them to feel how I did growing up.

            But I am beginning to see how this backfired and I just hope that I can some day heal from these blows and that my children can have a loving respectful relationship with me. I am beginning to let go of an overpowering need to protect them against their father and OW and am very slowly calming down about that and heeding advice from here about simply controlling what I can, such as my mothering and my healing.

            I cannot control how he parents (e.g., texting him furiously because he had not made contact with my youngest daughter for months causing her great distress and emotional pain). I admit I was in this mindset of beseeching him to talk to me about impact of OW, (will he introduce them to her? are they moving in together? what exactly has he spun to my 19-year-old? and on and on), etc., but trust me, this got me nowhere and caused a lot of crazy making and was torturous.

            Thanks to this blog and the excellent insight so many of you have, the concept of “I cannot control him” is slowly sinking in. But I will tell you it’s not easy and I am still a roller coaster of emotions. Sorry to go on, I am in great need of this very specialized parenting advice, one more major piece of fall out our cheater’s left for us.

    • Yep. My ex and the Owife are barely mediocre parents. The only reason my kids aren’t worse off than they are is because I am the primary custodian. They only have to deal with those two morons EOW and one weeknight every week. I secretly wish that they would decide they both hated living here and would move far away; he could send fancy presents every Christmas and birthday to make himself feel like a good parent, and we would never have to deal with visitation and their influence again. Of course, that will never happen. They are both hellbent on playing the roles of Mike and Carol Brady and proving that their affair-turned-marriage is right because it’s true love. I feel like I won’t have any peace until my kids are old enough to make up their own minds about visitation instead of being forced to go every week.

    • I know exactly what you mean nomar. I wish ex would go away and never come back. He cares too much about his image as a “good father.”

      He only knows passive aggression. He gets what he wants by manipulation and making people believe him against their own gut. When I think of the interactions I intercepted when we were together and that now my son has to deal with him alone–I cry. He constantly lies. For example my son hates beans and did not want to try them in a Mexican restaurant that he chose. “Its not beans–its brown sauce” he told him. I became sick with each crazy lie to my 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and now 6 year old child.

      My son has been trained to take care of daddy, to step on eggshells and to feel upset when ex feels someone has ‘done him wrong’—aka refused him kibbles that no one even knew they were refusing. Ex is very skilled at turning any independent thought not in line with his kibbles (a big secret) into some injustice against him.

      I pray every day that my son will be safe and grow into a person with a strong sense of his own truth, empathy for others, kindness, purpose in his life and good boundaries. I love him so very much. As I tell him: “to infinity and beyond” I never wanted this kind of life for him–with a fucked up father who thinks he is just great and everyone else has a problem, including his child.

      May God protect my son from his father’s gaslighting and mindfuckery. I am just now working on how to tell him age appropriate simple truths when he asks questions.

  • The same kind of man who can screw around on his wife, then blames you for him doing it. The same kind of man who moves the OW into his house within a month, and prevails on the child to keep it secret. The same kind of man who, when finding out his child is self-harming, then blames it on you. The same kind of man who takes you to court to assert his parental rights, but hasn’t done any 1 am diaramas, moans about every penny of child support, then acts all surprised and hurt and accuses me of parental alienation, when child declares she wants to live with me on another continent.

    No kind of man at all.

  • Thank you for posting this! I think all chumps with children (regardless of age) struggle with this situation. When my exH and I were still together I was constantly helping him communicate with our teenage daughters. He just wasn’t good at it. I always smoothed things over and settled the arguments and told them that their dad loved them. How is it that they couldn’t tell this??? Because he didn’t SHOW it!!! That’s why. And cheating on me and getting divorced certainly didn’t make it any better. I asked my therapist for advice on what to say when explaining things to my daughters and she told me to give them an age appropriate answer and NOT TO LIE to them. Kids are smarter than we think and they “get it”. She also told me to take myself out of the relationship triangle with him and my daughters and to let them navigate the father/daughter relationship alone. He needed to learn how to have a relationship with them on his own. I couldn’t continue to fix things. And really……she was so right!!!

    On a few occasions, while trying to answer questions to my daughters, I tried to protect them from the truth and they caught me and told me NOT TO LIE. They wanted to TRUST me!

    • Well said Kimmy. Though it is hard, I believe it is better to take ourselves out of their equation so that truth reigns rather than our frenzy to protect and fix (well, me anyway). : )

  • “Love shows up”
    This says a lot to me. It doesn’t LEAVE b/c it’s a coward. Every time they made the CHOICE to cheat the love (that they claimed to have) left.
    It’s selfish to do what you want and hurt others. Ultimately the kids suffer for their selfish parent.

    Well said nomar. I can’t say either way is worse but for me having to SEE my stbxh is painful.
    We have to suffer and try to make our kids lives ok. Still like ChumpLady said, I feel like I have to cushion things for my daughter. Gaslighting her in a way but ultimately still protecting the asshat her father can be. But is it MY place to plant those seeds? To burst her bubble of her father? She loves him and even though he’s made countless changes and hardships for us she doesn’t see him in a negative light.
    Such a pain in the ass all the time.

    • Edie- if your daughter doesn’t see him in a negative light then let her keep her view. She can form her own opinion of who she thinks her dad is, even if you don’t agree with how she sees it. There will probably be a day when her view changes. If you can respect her view now she’ll learn you will still respect her view if/when she changes it. You want her running to you. You’re her rock now. You can guide her to examine how she comes to her conclusions, i.e.: “how do you know when someone loves you?” but stay away from telling her what to think. Listen to her answers without trying to change them or tell her she’s wrong. If you find something that clashes you can always phrase it like, “what would you think of showing love through x?” “Give me your examples of when it wouldn’t be love?”

      • Yeah, I have to. Not only don’t I want to burst any bubble she’s living in but I also don’t want to be the cause of the bubble bursting. IMO that should be on him.
        She’s 13 so my guess is she’ll start to get some of why I’m so hurt when she starts dating.
        I’d love to spare her the disappointment but it’s just not realistic.

        Thanks : )

        • Kids under 25 still have developing brains and the judgment center is a latecomer. And I can remember very vividly the years between 8 and 15 when I was afraid my parents would separate and I would lose my family, friends, and home. That personal experience suggests to me that some kids cling to an absent parent out of fear of losing the connection entirely. In addition, a therapist told me years ago, when I asked him why the kids of the man I was dating were so easily manipulated by their mother, that some children will try to protect the parent they think is “weak” or who can’t manage on his or her own. And some kids may have a lot of the same narcissist traits that the cheaters have, from either biology or having observed the power of those behaviors. So I have concluded that how kids respond to the absent cheater is highly variable, complex, and probably doesn’t have all that much to do with the healthy chump parent. That same parent told me that adolescence is the closest most people ever get to “crazy.” Dealing with a manipulative, narcissistic and erratic or absent parent on top of adolescence is a tall order. I don’t have kids myself but I had a hand in raising or educating 3 stepkids. CL is, as usual, absolutely right. As long as kids have one adequate parent, who shows up and loves them, they will grow up able to sort things out for themselves.

          That takes me to what I think is the most important issue, touched on by several posts above. How that “adequate parent” models healthy relationships matters a lot. Lying and gaslighting in a misguided attempt to “protect” a kid’s relationship with a parent who lies, cheats and abandons the family, hurts the kid as much as it hurt us chumps. Those well-intended deceptions teach kids to lie instead of tell the truth when the truth is painful and unpalatable. Then what happens when kids hurt by a bullying classmate or their first love? If we as chumps have learned anything, it should be how important it is for people to be able to use their senses and their instincts to judge the world around them so that they can learn who to trust, and not to trust. There is a big difference between telling kids the truth about the situation, including the observation that the absent parent is not reliable, and editorializing that “Dad/Mom is an asshole.”

          • I loved everything you said, LAJ. I always do. In an article I read about narcissism, it basically said that a narcissist with a pathological FOO has zero chance of recovery. While my 19-year-old daughter has traits of narcissism, she had can unlearn some of her traits due to my good mothering and attachment parenting. That gives me some sense of hope. I also like what you said about kids clinging to the weaker parent. Makes a lot of sense and rang true to me. And thanks for the reminder about developing teen brains. You are so right. Thank you once again.

  • I divorced my cheating ex-husband 15 years ago. Not slagging him in front of my children, but giving them enough space to have a relationship with him (and the affairee, whom he married), has been the most difficult, arduous journey of my life. I did not make excuses for his actions. I did not call him a good man who made bad choices – I called him a “flawed” man. Some days, he was a very flawed man. I re-married a wonderful man 10 years ago. My eldest son, who was 18 at the time, spoke at our wedding. Much to my surprise, most of his speech was a tribute to me; to the parent who was always there, who would have cut off her right arm before she would have left her kids. I was in tears, as were many other mothers in the audience. Unprompted – he understood, he got it. There was my reward.

  • In the first round of infidelity, our MC took me aside and said if I choose to divorce rather than stay for the children (6 of ’em), that they would eventually figure out who’s who. Because they would stay with me, I’d have the chance to give them an ‘uncrazy’ house and be a proper role model. I really should have listened.

    Enter the chump.

    Instead I believed the promises of a new start, etc. I took the dumb hero approach that forgive & forget and love unconditional would triumph. We made a go of it. Nine years and many affairs later I’m still choking on that idiocy. Besides the ruination of my own self-esteem, the kids are confused and alienated. The younger ones still at home were raised in a toxic environment where they witnessed a continually diminished father try to make things work while their mother led a secretive life at our expense.

    If I’ve learned anything its that being nice & honoring vows NO MATTER
    WHAT is just plain stupid. In the end, it just hurts everyone.

    BTW, my eldest son had a common-law wife and step-child. She cheated on him with his best friend. I believe he was totally unprepared for this because of my example. I carry a deep pain and guilt for not wising up earlier. I made a Son-of-Chump because of my misunderstanding of what it was to being a good husband and father.

    I guess I’m still burning angry at myself.

    • so sorry to read this…but maybe you should first forgive yourself and then speak to them on exactly what you have written. Its never too late, just don’t blame it on them (“I stayed for the children”) and own up to your chumpiness. You can begin to unchump yourself so that they can also…It may even be therapeutic for all of you, to say what has not been said.

      • Good advice Susan. My older kids have moved out of town and I really think that’s a face-to-face communications.

        I have begun to open up to them though. We’ve discussed their mother’s bipolar condition (I forgot to mention) but haven’t openly talked about the affairs.

        • Dan, my wife is Bi-Polar 2. I feel for you.

          The three C’s are like a mantra for me, but it only goes so far. Therapist said a question to ask is how long can you stay in a crazy situation without going crazy yourself. I haven’t found that answer yet but working on it.

          • My ex is mentally ill, he refuses diagnoses, the two MCs we saw thought BPD on the one hand and NPD on the other. It doesn’t matter, if a person refuses to get treatment and instead harms everyone around them, you have to let them go. Only control you have is over yourself. I have friends who suffer from mental illness, they treat it, they take responsibility for it, they don’t hurt me intentionally and they recognize when they step over lines. Or they listen if I say they did and make every effort to fix the problem or figure ways to make it ok. They don’t refuse treatment, they don’t blame anyone else for their problems.

            • Let me add active, progressive alcoholism to the mix. “If a person refuses to get treatment and instead harms everyone around them, you have to let them go.”

          • I assume you’re referring to the 3 C’s:
            Didn’t CAUSE it

            Can’t CONTROL it.

            Can’t CURE it.

            Those three give comfort and control back to the victim. I haven’t heard of that before but now I will start to use it also. Thank you very much ChumpGuy.

            This is in contrast to the Chump mantra 3 C’s:




            Which only enable a cheater and support the dis-functional.

    • “If I’ve learned anything its that being nice & honoring vows NO MATTER
      WHAT is just plain stupid.”

      I’ve finally learned that too, Dan, and boy did it take me too long.

      • Uniquelyme raises her hand, too. Took me over 20 years but glad I am where I am today. I would never, ever advise choosing that path to anyone.

        • YES. UniquelyMe. I’m glad to hear you’ve evolved. I’m finally on the upward path too.

          I have had the delicate opportunity of advising someone in a similar situation and have said basically, ‘run for the hills’. No 2nd chance. Harsh? Yes, but unless the spouse was under duress or wasn’t responsible for making the CHOICE to have sex then it’s a repeatable act…not worthy of a second chance.

          When you make a choice followed by physical action, then you’ve sealed a pattern within your character. C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” termed that decision point as “This moment contains all moments.”.

          We decide at some moment to never have sex outside of marriage. That decision is deep in our hearts and is done for no one else but ourselves. It’s not to avoid losing someone else’s love or the respect of peers…it’s for love of ourselves. Cheaters have never come to that level of love.

          And I can’t change that in my partner/spouse/child/friend/ etc.

          {{{ insert 3 C’s }}}

  • Thanks to all of you who have more experience on the telling the truth and parenting. I have sort of a mixed situation because my cheater is not such a bad parent (so far: six months from Dday). He is always worried about his children, pays all the bills, has them half the week, half the vacations, consults me on any important decisions, and I trust him enough (as a dad) to leave them with him for two months when I needed to travel for work. My kids missed me a lot because I am more flexible and perhaps less disciplined than he is, and I don’t yell but they adore their dad. I have told them that their father is a “good” dad but a terrible husband and that they shouldn’t take any of his advice about relationships too seriously. However, his bad part, is really bad: the anger, yelling and the perfectionist anxiety. Now that we are separated I notice how I used to be stressed ALL the time I was with him (the walking on eggs feeling). But though I get to be free of that as long as I am NC, it still rubs off on them…I have to unteach them to not yell, and this is really hard because they have learned that people do react in fear to yelling. On the other hand, he does show up to all the school and social events and pays all the bills and is sweet and loving when he is not stressed out or with them all day. We always had discussions on how to discipline kids (he believed in spanking lightly even though he was wipped by his father when he was a kid and resented that, fortunately I won and kids were never spanked; he believes in no second chances, while I sometimes allow them a second chance if they show they are sorry and can redo what they did wrong in a right way; etc). So, I can’t really say he is a bad parent and is not there for them, but I am scared of the long term consequences of his anger on my children (his family justifies it by proudly saying that they carry an “anger gene”). Any advice?

    • Maybe just that anger can be used, and abused, and that what you as an individual decide to do when angry defines your character.

      George Simon’s web site is useful.

    • SAChump, my family used to call this our “Irish temper” as though it was something a.) we had no control over, and b.) something to be proud of. My family never figured it out, so it’s good that you are doing your best to do so!

    • SA-that sounds frustrating. I’d be pulling my hair out. Anger is okay but it sounds like your ex/husband (sorry, not sure which) would benefit from examining his beliefs on anger. Being a “good” parent is more than showing up for activities. Emotional health is also very important, that’s what lasts and has the most impact. It’d be on him to see a shrink to work on that. Is he willing to do that? The Divorce Care ministry has an excerpt on anger. It promotes safe anger. Yelling doesn’t necessarily cross the line in and of itself but it definitely can when it’s continuous. It sounds like you’re already trying to teach your kids safe anger. What to do when they get angry, how to respond. Keep that up. It’s hard when you feel you’re getting undermined but it still makes an impact.

      You can help guide your kids through how they feel in the situations when they’re angry. Chances are they don’t feel good with the yelling. Ask how they feel when they have an alternative to yelling. That’ll clue you in on what system works for them. Maybe they need some advice on what they can do when at dad’s? Kids have a knack for calling their parents out too. They teach us the very lessons we’ve worked so hard to teach them. I wouldn’t be surprised if your kids call their dad out at some point when he’s yelling.

      It also sounds like you and your ex/husband are falling into to deontology vs egalitarian wars on discipline (if I’m remembering the terms correctly). One side (deontology I think) says rules are rules, regardless of circumstance or outcome, and the other (egalitarian) says rules are important yes, but context is needed as well. Having 2 people in opposite camps makes discipline a war of butting heads b/c they don’t see eye-to-eye. An example would be the teen athlete that got a call from a drunk friend to pick her up. Athlete goes to get the friend at the party right as the cops show up. Athlete gets kicked off team b/c she was at a party with alcohol that the cops busted. Rules are rules: kick her off, no exceptions. Context: she was at the party but she didn’t drink. Enter exceptions.

      • oops, I did have them wrong. It’s not egalitarian, it’s Utilitarian.

    • SAChump I felt the same way for the most part.
      Stbxh is a GOOD guy. Smart, funny, pays his bills, shows up to every tiny event, very concerned about daughter, etc.
      Then I read here…GOOD people don’t do what they’ve done.
      They weren’t thinking of anyone but themselves when they cheated.
      Mine left me in a strange twist on this story but he also was only thinking of himself then.
      They’re “good” parents but not really.

      Like you I feel a sense of relief in some ways not being there – even though last year this time I was doing the pick me dance.
      I don’t think I realized how stressed I was.

      My only advice is to keep unteaching them undesirable behaviors and show them that you’re the sane, calm one. My guess is it’ll take some time but they’ll start to relax some and realize that way of communicating isn’t pleasant and they shouldn’t do it.

    • I don’t have kids but if you recognize the stress relief being away from your ex, no longer walking on eggshells, then do you not think your kids are still in that place when they stay with him? Just a thought.

      • Yes, and if being with them all day stresses him and makes him more volatile, perhaps custody can be arrange so that is not such an issue.

    • I am in exactly the same situation as SA Chump however laws in my country stress the importance of shared parenting, regardless of “anger” issues. Hell as a lawyer friend (prosecuting lawyer) said she has seen cases where the father or mother is well-known to the police, however still get shared custody.

      As my counselor, said to me even if you were together he would still be doing the same, and your children would be modelling this behavior as the “norm”. Now that you are free at least they can see what is appropriate behavior when dad is not around. When they are older they can elect, if they so desire, to live with one parent over the other. Is it fair to them? absolutely not, however time and appropriate boundaries from me, and my extended family friends, can go a long way in helping them choose, and accept actions. I think we just have to keep living according to our own ethical code.

      • Thanks all for your thoughtful comments. I am the sole custodian (though he thinks he has joint custody – I don’t think he read our divorce agreement very well – which I wrote) but have accepted this shared arrangement for now, while the kids get accustomed to divorce (which is not finalized legally yet), and then will use it if they don’t want to go to their dad’s for long periods anymore or if I see any changes in their peaceful attitudes. But I am beginning to show them alternatives to physical anger and yelling, and they also propose their own ideas. My youngest suggested that if any one of us yells or annoys another on purpose they have to do something nice for that person as a reparation. We started it as a game and it is actually working very well. And fiestypants, thanks for the deontology/egalitarian example. Right on target. That was an everyday battle. But I applied it on him when he tried to justify the cheating: a liar is a liar, no second chances. Last laugh, best laugh…

  • I am having a seriously tough time this summer with my sixteen year old son and lamenting the presence of a good man in our lives for support and guidance for him. He has developed a really bad attitude with me and my efforts to deal with him are sapping my energy and making me depressed. I know all teenagers push boundaries but I am getting verbal abuse from him and that scares me somewhat. I am so worn out as I think the teenage years are the hardest. My daughter is twelve and she hates when he gets all shouty and so I feel for her.

    His anger is all directed at me, the one who stayed, I know this is common as seemingly they vent with the parent they feel safe with and don’t show anger toward the parent who left. I am worn out. It’s causing me great anxiety all of this.

    Sorry if this sounds whiny but am at the end of my tether today after big confrontations!

    • Ride it out. 16 is the WORST. Full throttle hormonal craziness. My son, who used to be a delight, went through a pretty ugly spell 15-16. At 17 he’s inching back towards delightful again, but there were those dark days that you’re describing.

      Just show up, Tonya. Do your job. Don’t take shit off a teenager.

      And is there anyway you can get this kid a job? The number one thing that made my son HAPPY and improved the attitude 100% was getting a job and earning money.

      • Thanks CL, good to hear your boy came through. My son does have a job which is great for him, however he is just as spiky. I am thinking he may need counselling, though I doubt he will go willingly. Yes, I will keep showing up, thanks again, much appreciated.

            • In my family, we call parenting a “Semi Benevolent Dictatorship.”

              • Yeah, my dad (a child of tough German and Polish peasants and educated by Jesuits through his undergrad degree) used a similar phrase but dropped the “semi Benevolent” part. Just “I’m the parent, you’re the child, and you WILL do what I say no matter whether you understand why or agree.”

                Seemed awful at the time but in hindsight I see some wisdom there.

    • Young men have it particularly difficult when there’s no good role model in the home. I feel it’s an epidemic situation where guys really don’t know how to handle the aggression that comes with that flood of new hormones. If you have uncles or grandfathers or even male teachers/coaches to draw on you’re in luck. It really only takes a few good moral encounters to set the path right.

      Good luck Tonya.

      • Thanks Dan, good to have a male angle. It may sound crazy but there are no male role models in the family I can call on. They are either dead or useless sadly! I will keep looking and trying though and I know what you mean – there have been times in his life where he has had a good teacher or coach and they have made a difference. In summer there is no proper routine so the grind is left on my shoulders. Thanks again.

        • I do not know if your son would profit from a Big Brother. It might be worth checking out the local organization. In your son’s eyes, that you would suggest a Big Brother would imply that you don’t think he’s grown up, or worse that you think he’s still a kid. Okay, so 16 is still a kid, but not to a 16-year-old!

          Another option is a traditionally-male activity. Martial arts comes to mind. Pretty much every martial art tradition teaches that the student needs to respect those around him. Martial arts are not about beating the crap out of the opponent, but about attaining control over oneself.

          Best of luck with your son. I don’t have kids, but I have done volunteer work with teens at my church and I have younger brothers. I remember that when one of my brothers was 16, I was ready to foster him out to a friend, who had a 14-year-old sister. By the way, 14 is the magic awful age for girls.

          The good news is that the really awful stage lasts about a year. If you had a good relationship with your kid before hormones it, you’ll likely have a good relationship once the hormones start to settle.

          • Excellent advise kb. Big Brotthers/Sisters is a great group.

            In our country (results may vary) there’s a Service Coordination office in most communities that can direct you to all sorts of programmes and agencies. It’s often frustrating for service groups to have all sorts of resources that go unused simply because people don’t know about them. Pride and apathy also play a part especially for single parents trying to do everything for themselves.

            “Village raises the child” is a good thing.

            Best of luck Tonya.

    • Tonya, I would also say if you are feeling worn out, try to find ways to replenish yourself. A 1/2 hour walk every day, a massage once a week or month if you can afford it, or something else that feeds your soul.

    • Ride it out with love. But also tell him IT is NOT okay to talk to you that way. Tell him that just because he is mad or bored or whatever, is not the green light to talk to you badly. Tell him every single time.

      my son did this to everyone when he turned 15, it was horrible. i couldnt understand it. i keep trying to make excuses for him. it was my mom who said BULLSHIT!!! dont let that boy talk to you like that!. PERIOD.

      so i would tell him DONT TALK TO ME LIKE THAT each and every time. he would come back with something (teenagers usually do) he would say OR WHAT he would WHATEVER he would say SHUT UP. and i would remember my mom, and tell him to respect me, i am his mother. dont tell me shut up, be a good man. dont talk back

      i thought i was talking to the wall, but he was listening the whole time. now when one of my younger kids talk he is the first to say, dont talk back to your mother. he still mouths off at 20 but he knows he is wrong.

  • Don’t be angry at yourself, Dan. That is your conditioning talking.

    Better to wise up late than not at all! I come from a very similar-scarily similar- family of origin as the one I created for my daughter. Women in my family have had the same lot, over and over-boorish entitled alcoholics who don’t become any less of an asshole when they sober up. That is on THEM.

    You cannot blame yourself for that, Dan, that is just history repeating itself, and you only get to control you. I am helping and hoping my daughter will break that pattern, and all I can do in that regard is try to be the sane parent. The kids do figure it out, and they won’t need your help to draw the conclusion that their Mom is a wingnut. Do they know (age-appropriately) why you broke up?

    I also agree with CL and others-the kids’ relationship with the other parent is between them. Yes, it is the responsibility of the other parent to show up, but if they love themselves enough to cheat, then they love themselves enough to fuck over their kids, and not show up. As Nomar says, the ones who just disappear leave one kind of devastation in their wake, and the ones who hang in, gaslight, manipulate and abuse on an ongoing shared parenting basis are different critters. This isn’t a pain contest, but it sounds to me like you are in the latter group. The essays CL recommends saved my life and my child’s sanity, and it sounds like the therapist you spoke with was with their salt.

    I am really sorry about your son, but to blame yourself for his being cheated on isn’t fair on him, he has free will. And it sucks, but I think that is just part of parenting anyway. All the trauma of being cheated on has left me hypervigilant as regards my kid, and maybe this is happening for you?

    Big Jedi hugs, and hats off for raising 6 kids!


  • I completely agree with CL! I wish I had found this site sooner, and was able to navigate the beginnings of my divorce better, but I wised up and told me kids in appropriate language what happened. They are 10 and 8 so I simply said that when you get married you agree that you will spend the rest of your lives together. You promise to not have any girlfriends or boyfriends and you promise to be best friends. I then said that their dad chose to have a girlfriend and go out on dates when I was home with them and that is not ok. I guess at some point the kids must have told him what I said because his response was that that never happened and that he didn’t meet the OW until AFTER our divorce. It bothers me so much that he continues to lie…and not just to me, but to his own children. I try to stay out of their relationship but how do you do that with the lying? I simply told them that that was not the truth and reiterated that their relationship was the reason for the divorce. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

    • I am fearing exactly this, because mine are almost the same age as yours, they know the truth but their father doesn’t know that I told them, and I am scared on how he will react if they confront him.

      • SA- you can’t control how he’ll react if they say something. You know what happened, you’ve told the truth. You’ve done your duty. He probably will lie to them. He lies to adults, himself, why wouldn’t he lie to his kids? Him actually telling his kids that they’re right, that you’re right, would mean a character transplant happened. Those don’t happen over night. He has to actually look in a mirror for that to happen and it doesn’t sound like he’s done that. You probably will have to work extra hard. All you can do is keep teaching your lessons. Keep telling the truth.

        • I second that-I think it was Datdamwuf who said, “It is not slander if it is true”.

          Boofuckitty hoo-your ex has no right to go ballistic if he did something and you told the truth about it. If he didn’t want to be called a cheater, or for his kids to know that truth, then he could have kept it in his pants.

          Life has deal-breakers, and you are doing your kid a service by honoring yourself, and them with reality.

        • I agree. And if the cheater turns around and lies to the kids, then it is fair to say to the kids, “Some people lie when they are caught doing something wrong. That is piling one bad choice on top of another.”

          • my kids are 12 and 8; it has been hard. all their lives i was spacking like crazy, telling the their dad loves them, and “hes at work” right at midnight. i was the negotiator, referee, counselor, cheerleader between him and the kids. everytime they said dad was mean or dad is mad or something, i would tell them he wasnt mean or he wasnt mad that is just how he talks, he cant say things nicely. ugh!!

            i cant stand what he has done to our family. i stopped lying to my kids about their dad, they already knew anyway. when MOW tried to sufficate my kids with bullshit, and act all nicey nicey, just wants to be their friend. i told my kids she is not your friend, she is the reason your dad left. she talked your dad into thinking it was not worth staying here at home, that i treated him bad and he deserved better then us. they dont like her now. i tell them they still have to be polite to her but not to believe everything she tells them.

            12 year old wants nothing to do with dad now. doesnt want to visit, doesnt want to call or talk to him. if dad is here then he answers his questions but otherwise is non reaction to his being here. the 8 year old is still hurting, still questions, still wondering and still full of superman dad. now i just talk about choices. i explain how everyone has a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing. i give examples to 8 year old. like when he is holding the puppy, i say you have a choice to hold that puppy in your arms and make sure he doesnt get hurt, or jump down and hurt himself, or you can throw that puppy to the floor and not care if it gets hurt or not pay attention to it so it jumps and gets hurt. that really helped him. only he still asks why dad isnt here. it is a family event, dad is still family, why isnt he here, why dont you call him to come join us. having already laid the ground work with the choices idea, i just told him, it is your dads choice not to be with this family, his choice not to share this day with us.

            8 year old is still struggling and it kills me. but i just keep telling him the truth in 8 year old answers. can i call dad? sorry, i dont have his new number. can we go to his house? no i dont think dad would like that, he choice not to want me to go by his house.

            it still hurts like hell to see the pain in his heart, but it is all i can do. my ex is making it easy and his MOW is making it easier too. i dread the day my ex pulls his head out of HER ass and remembers he has children who loved him just because he was dad. i know by that time the kids will not care. it hurts me and it is super sad, but not my monkeys, not my crazy. all i can do is pick up the pieces and be there to hold them when they cry.

    • This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do too. I know my ex is lying to my children, doing his justification dance, spinning things in his narc way so that he always looks good and me not. It is truly the hardest thing to control the Lioness response that we are wired to feel in order to protect.

      • b.f. i totally agree!! at first i tried to “be fair” but his gf was being anything but fair and making sure to tell my kids that their daddy loves them and misses them and wants to be with them but their mom didnt call or whatever. i finally had enough. as much i wanted to confront her (and kick her ass) it just isnt worth it.

        you cant explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

        so my decision was to cut her out of the picture altogether. if my XH wants to see my kids, he has to do it in my house (or some neutral place where she cant go). it did cause some drama on their side (she even told me i was just hurting the kids) but in the end, he choice was her. and he didnt come. mind fucked me beyond belief but i finally came to terms with it. his loss. the boys know i tried to get dad to come see them, i explained that i wanted it in my house so his gf cant tell them lies and act all nicey nicey. both told me they dont want to see her anyways. i explained that it made her mad, and that dad decided not to come if she cant be with him. they were hurt but not surprised. i asked them if they wanted to go to dads? they both said no.

        i still struggled that i was hurting the kids. i am still not sure if i am doing it for the kids best interests or just because i dont want this crazy lady influencing them and teaching them things like it is ok to do what you want no matter who gets hurts as long as you are happy. or if it really is any of that and i am just being hateful and trying to control him.

        in my mind, i am thinking of the kids. i actually dont even care about the other thing. if i really am being hateful to him, or whatever. it doesnt matter anymore. the only thing that matters to me is my boys.

    • Sick of HER Chump, I did the same thing. My DDay is only a few months past but I am lucky that I found Chump Lady at the same time. I told my 7-year-old son exactly what you did. They get it. They understand what you are telling them. I will not lie and cover for my STBXH’s decision to cheat. I will be the parent who tells the truth. I will be the parent that shows up. I will be the parent my son can depend on over and over and over again.

      My son asked me WHY Daddy did that and I told him that I just simply did not know. Because I didn’t. That was the truth. And I didn’t want to talk bad about his Dad to him. We will have conversations in the future and maybe the word asshole will come up but not now. I suspect even later, he will clearly see the stark difference in how we each have “loved” him.

      I just want him to know that telling the truth is best. Even when it sucks. And that being a man, a GOOD man, means keeping your word. Always. No matter what. ANd that when you say “I DO” and then you “DON”T”, there are consequences. Terrible ones.

  • My son has been saying for several years that he will eventually sever his relationship with his dad. In son’s own words, his dad is “stupid, crazy, a liar, a bad person, a moocher, a user, embarrassing, ridiculous, lazy, selfish”. It’s hard for me to argue, because all of that is undeniably true.

    Ex has really gone crazy on our son the past couple of months, and finally pulled a stunt too big for son to spackle. I think it’s possible ex will suck son back in again — he’s done it before — but this time, son has refused to see his dad for a couple weeks now, does not want to talk to him and says that he is done.

    Son is 18, old enough to make his own decision. Ex of course blames me, and has gotten his sisters in one harassing son. I’ve warned son to be very careful, because I don’t think ex will take this lying down and potentially could become dangerous.

    • Glad, I don’t want to overreact but perhaps if you’re worried for your son’s safety, you might want to tell him to call an emergency number if he feels unsafe or is coerced into going places he doesn’t want to go. Even though he’s eighteen he may be vulnerable.

      • The problem is that these guys and girls never do anything overtly bad enough to prosecute or warrant legal action. It’s hugely frustrating to see the repeated line crossing yet be powerless to stop it. Imo, years of this shit is more damaging than single larger acts of abuse. (Well it depends on the acts) Plus your internal alarms are going off non stop FOR YEARS because the person IS evil but you can never get away from it even though that is what those internal alarms are for. Sharing kids with someone this awful is the only time in our life we lose the RIGHT to move away from that which abuses us and the RIGHT to protect our kids from such things. It feels like a betrayal of self and a failure to protect our children. And the system and other idiots tell us it’s our burden to bear because we made a choice to have a child with someone as if WE did something bad. Glad, my hat’s off to you and your son today. You ARE NOT defined by what he did and I’m sorry that both you and your son have to suffer for it. You truly have awe inspiring incredible strength.

        And to all of you out there who have to continue to co parent with a terrible person because the system says ” it’s better for kids to have both parents involved” I’m sorry. Unless you truly believe that and are ok with it I am holding up my middle finger at the system for you.

        Ok sorry.

        • Whoops, meant ok sorry, rants over.

          • Years ago, one of my students was devastated over a girlfriend who cheated, got involved with another boy at college, but wanted to call him every day “just to talk.” He cried in my office for a long time. I told him to stop picking up the phone. To change his number or block her texts. It took him a couple of weeks to go NC, but he did. A year later he told me he had met another girl at a night class. They are married now with kids. KIds have to learn there are various ways to establish boundaries with other people, including parents and cheating girlfriends. Glad, if you son’s father or aunt is harassing him, he has the right to simply ignore them, for now.

  • I have had those feelings, too, Glad. It is worse when the Flying Monkeys (other fucktard family members) get roped in. My ex has physically locked daughter in his house when she wanted to come home to me. I didn’t know until well after the fact, but from that point on ward, she voted with her feet.

    I dealt with that fear by asking her what she’d do if that happened again-she said ‘Cops’ with no hesitation. I try to look at it under general parenting-your kid might have to deal with a wingnut in another context, so prep them. It sucks when it is a family member, but crazy is crazy is crazy. There is a problem in that emotional abuse is not seen as dangerous, but CL and Chump Nation are changing that.

    Hard part is, if your son is not in physical danger, then he has to deal with it himself. Once I left the discussion, it all became clearer for my daughter pretty quick.

    I think because of the power we give the wingnuts during the Chumping Time makes us overestimate the cheater, and underestimate the kids.

    And your ex is probably enough of a coward to take it lying down, Glad, or, if he kept the OW, to be content with his new arrangements-which your kid will feel as abandonment regardless of his age.

    But it sounds to me like you have raised a self-respecting and honest young man, Glad!


  • My son is 30 now and a wonderful, kind, confident, and loving man who treats women with respect and is a loving responsible father. He is my hero.
    But when he was 16 I didn’t think he would live to turn 20 and if he did he would be in jail.
    His dad had a really bad motorcycle accident when my son was 5 weeks old and didn’t get out of the hospital for almost a year. He and my son were learning to walk at the same time. The accident changed him, the pain, the meds, who knows but I had to divorce him because of the addictions etc.
    It was heart breaking to watch my son be disappointed time after time, sports days, daddy weekends that never happened. One time my son got up at 4 am to be ready to go om a fishing trip with his dad. I had to wake this kid up Christmas morning, but he was up and dressed at 4am waiting by the door for his dad who said he would be there at 6 am. I called his dad at 7, no answer, 8 no answer, 10 am my son is in tears but will not take his jacket off because he doesn’t want to make daddy wait when he gets there. It was noon when his dad called to say he had changed his mind.
    One time he went 6 months without a phone call or seeing the kid and then he shows up at the door. Of course my son is thrilled, how do I break his heart and not let him go? So I put a smile on my face and was happy for my son. His dad took him for an ice cream cone and brought him back 15 minutes later. My heart was broken for him.
    Christmas concerts I was there every time but my son’s eyes would be on the door. If his dad did show up it would be for 10-15 minutes and he’d be gone but that would be the only thing my son remembered, Daddy showed up.
    I got quite resentful over the years. I had my son in counseling, as he got older I told him of the man I had married and I had all the love letters his dad wrote me and showed him that he was conceived in love and explained his dad changed after the accident. I never criticized his father to him and as he got older he was able to make his own decisions and if he wanted to talk I was there.
    We went through a horrible time when he was in his teens, he was out of control, got in with the wrong crowd because he was picked on in school. He didn’t have a man figure to look up to and when I got him a “big brother” the guy turned out to be a pedophile. I ran him out of town.
    The kid went through some horrible times, drugs, quit school, and I had to kick him out but I was always there for him. I was told to wash my hands of him by my mom, my brother and his own father said I had ruined him. My mom said I had “loved him too much”. WTF???
    His father told him that he would never amount to anything. I told him I would always love him and that as long as he was honest and was a productive member of society who treated people with respect I would be proud of him. I didn’t care what he did for a living, and to not let anyone define who is was, to just be the best him he could be.
    Well, long story short he asked to go to rehab, got his grad 12 and graduated top in Canada. Went on to university and has a BA in theology. He is certified as an ambulance attendant. He got a girl pregnant 4 years ago and has paid his child support and sees his daughter regularly (although he tells me he cries many nights that he can’t be a full time dad)
    What I consider to be the catalyst to his success is at one point in his late teens he joined a church where he met wonderful men who nurtured him and showed him what a real man is all about. The whole church set about loving this boy, they praised him but made him accountable also, the men took him with them to play sports etc. The more they praised him the harder he tried and the more praise he got. I could not give him that, he knew I loved him, but that is what mom’s are supposed to do. (it didn’t have the impact of having the approval of a man) A mom can not be mom and dad as much as we try. A boy needs a man, it doesn’t have to be a father, it can be an uncle, a friend, but a decent man who takes him under his wing and teaches him the things guys teach their sons.
    I carried a lot of resentment towards his dad and the unfairness of it all and I resented that any time his dad showed up it was “Mom who?”
    A few years ago I got a letter from my son. One line of it said, “Thanks for always loving me and believing in me mom< even when I didn't believe in myself." and I got another one a year later that said, "I have always wished for a friend who accepted me who I was. A friend I could trust with my deepest fears and wishes. And then I realized, I have always had that with you, my mom."
    I made one mistake, I married a guy because I thought he would be a good father figure. Big mistake!!
    My advice to any mom's raising a boy, don't over compensate because their dad is a jerk, keep reinforcing that their dad does not define them, surround them with loving healthy examples of what a true man is all about, love them unconditionally but stand firm on boundaries. Get them counseling if they appear to need it. Don't try to be dad and mom, just be the best mom you can be. Most of all, be there for them, allow them to talk openly and honestly with you so you know what they are feeling. Acknowledge their pain and disappointment without making it about you. My son is always honest with me and I never judge him, all his buddies always came to our house and I was Mom to half a dozen guys.
    My son now has a relationship with his father he can live with, we are as close as ever and I could not be prouder. My son still doesn't know exactly what I went through with his father, he knows he was conceived in love and that I was always there for him and loved him unconditionally that was all he needed to know.

    • Wow, that’s some journey you’ve been on with your son. Well done and I commend you on your patience and your tenacity.

    • Wonderful advice. I went through some tough timed with my 27 year old son, but he always knew I loved him. He is now an amazing guy and I a so proud of him. CL is right. Love sticks around and it matters.

  • This is the post I’ve been waiting for. Just yesterday, my 7 1/2 year asked me, with the tears brimming, why we were divorced. He said that kids were supposed to grow up with both a mommy and a daddy. He asked me why did I say yes to getting divorced. We are divorced as of June. 2 and a half years of cheating, lying, multiple D-days, 2 month stint in rehab over my son’s birthday and Christmas, no call on either, didn’t stop drinking after his release, fired from his job, multiple affairs… the list goes on. I am able to trust that he sucks, I know I’m better off. My kids don’t know that yet. And it’s heartbreaking to see their pain. I’ve been thinking all this time that to protect them from knowing what a selfish asshole he is, and to protect him to them, was to protect them and preserve my own relationship with them. But it felt sort of off to tell them that he loves them and know that they would inevitably ask themselves why THEY weren’t important enough to prevent this. Sadly, that’s the truth. They weren’t, I wasn’t, none of us were important or valuable enough to this man to keep him from making appalling selfish choices that made it impossible for our family to remain intact.

  • I don’t know if things are better because my ex is still involved in my children’s lives. He lives in the same town about 10 minutes away. He’s been unemployed for over a year (divorce has been final for almost 7 months). Sometimes I wish he would get a job in another state so I wouldn’t have to see him as much, but then I wonder if I’m being selfish since it would hurt my children not to see him as much. We have a 60/40 custody arrangement. He wanted 50/50 but I wouldn’t give him that. I only gave him 60/40 so he’d agree to let us move to another state so I could have family support. I wonder if things will change once he finally gets a job.

    I worry about his influence on my kids. He’s not a good person. He’s very controlling, and emotionally abusive. He wanted me to live in the same apartment complex as him. That was just too close for comfort. My kids have grown up the LDS church since they were born and he refuses to let them be baptized. He was excommunicated (the church frowns on adultery), and is very antagonistic but doesn’t attend any other church. My 9 year old is very hurt that he can’t be baptized, and prays that his dad will let him some day.

    It was surprising to me that my ex wanted 50/50 custody because he was so uninvolved in his children’s lives until about a year before DDay. I did all the child care and housekeeping. He’d usually be playing Xbox or on the computer while I took care of the kids. Then one day he decided he was going to be super Dad and coach all of the kids teams, and put the kids to bed one night a week.

    It became almost a parenting competition up until the divorce. I did what I normally did, and he was Mr. Fun Dad. Now I know he does do stuff with them occasionally, but for the most part he just ignores them while he’s on the computer and they play xbox all day.

    I guess I should be thankful that he still wants to be a parent to his kids. It would be so hard to have to do everything myself and also deal with the abandonment issues. He’s not paying any child support because he’s unemployed. I had to give up alimony in order to move out of state. Sometimes I wish he would just go away, and leave me alone.

  • My Ex also showed up. He left the marriage but stayed around. He has the money, the water front house, the successful business, and is fun (manic, anti depressants and alcohol), but hides it well. He is successful and fun to be around. The kids don’t see the other side. His girlfriend/secretary moved in after the divorce, which no one knew the date since it took so long. Took the kids (2 adults, 1 teenager) to a party last week to teach the teenager how to drink responsibly. All in fun, of course (note sarcasm). I tried to spackle and pointed out what she was really learning, but c’mon Mom, you’re no fun, was the response.

    Sometimes I am good with it. I have personally moved on. But kids love the money, the cars, the boats, the homes and he is more “fun” in that regard. I worry about what they are learning, money trumps love. I don’t hear a lot about what really goes on over there, they are very protective.

    Love shows up in lots of forms. For my kids, his money is love. My love is boring and stable. They have dinner with me but fun with him. Young adults don’t know what stability is and “love” the excitement. So in their learning years, I can only hope for the best. I try to stay stable and show up and hope I don’t have a psychological mess to clean up when they are older and wiser. Hopefully, it won’t be too late. I too, sometimes wish for the disappearing Dad.

    • Hang in there. Have faith. You know how hard you’ve worked to keep a stable environment. And how hard you’ve worked to move on with your life. Even the best kids don’t understand the sacrifices of the good parent until they have kids themselves.

      • wow. reading your stories have really helped me so much. i do have a disappearing dad. i was so hurt about it. i was so scared for my children to realize that their dad sucked. i was trying to hard to get him to come see the children. and of course each attempt blow up in my face. his MOW loves to throw it in my face that HE IS HERS. and HE DOESNT WANT YOU.

        the last attempt i was so mindfucked by their (her) craziness that i even posted on the forum. he (she) told me “i left you, i did not leave the kids” still fucks my head with WTF does THAT even mean. is there another way you can betray your marriage vows, leave your wife and children for the first thing that made your dick hard that you knew only a few months, to leave the house means leaving your kids behind with no dad in their life every day. on top of that, dont call, dont ask to see the kids, and of course do not pay child support……but somehow that all equals he “did not leave the kids”

        reading all of this is making me more and more confident about NOT begging him to see the boys… {i love this site}

  • It’s amazing how when infidelity happens, with all of its lies and deceit, that it’s so often expected of chumps to lie and cover up what happened for whatever reason, whether it’s the children, public appearances, or any of a number of other things. At some point people (and I know chumps know this) need to understand that packing lies on top of themselves does no good for anyone.

  • Very fortunate here. My guy was 20 when our world kind of blew apart. Luckily, his Mom has had the decency to do her part (within reason). She loves him and has certainly not abandoned him.

    But…she had no interest in helping him unpack at his freshman college dorm; she complained when he wanted her to see his first dorm room because she wanted to get off down to the beach where her new, young, partying friends were. She doesn’t help him move in and out of wherever his new college residence is in fall and spring. She didn’t visit or even drive by to check out his summer place he’s renting with some friends near his summer job. If we’re at the beach she doesn’t care whether he comes to our place to stay for a couple of nights or just stays at his place. She doesn’t usually seem to have that much time to listen when he calls to check in. Etc., etc. But she’s there if he asks. Sadly, it seems as if she would just as soon he didn’t ask.

    It has to hurt, and it hurts me for him. But at 19, at least he’s able to put it in perspective. He and I do our thing. He said to me there is nothing to be done about her and that’s she’s burned some bridges. Like I said once before, she’s a little bit in the background, and that’s all on her. No sympathy there, none.

      • Sadly, yes, and it is not great. Getting to meh is an ongoing process; my issue is financial. I’ve been pretty much sole provider basically over our entire marriage. I’m trying to slow down a bit, but w is not working, and I don’t relish the idea of ramping back up at 62 so I can continue to support her in the manner she is accustomed to. Going through the cheaper to keep her analysis.

        • I feel for you buddy.

          I too am stuck as the provider. We cohabit but only till her new business picks up enough to support her.

          This whole experience crippled the household finances. She lost job after job because of her own instability. I became not only the sole earner but eventually the sole caregiver. This and the continued stress of affairs effected my job performance (a top-performer for 23 years) and put me on a company-wide lay-off list. Re-tooling as a 50+ guy in high tech is difficult and slow…so we blew thru our savings, house equity, retirement funds, etc.

          Moving on is a purposeful decision to stop the bleeding that comes from being a chump. I’m finished with putting up with a leaking ship. The emotional drain of living with a cheater saps the energy needed to pull out of the nose dive I’ve been living for 9 years. It’s time to stop.

          I hope you too can put it all together and enjoy a new life. “Fly. Be Free” as Mork says.

          Good luck friend.


          • Dan, thanks for the reply. Bi-polar sucks for everyone connected (but it’s not an excuse).

  • I do cringe at what the divorce has and is doing to the kids. I hate to see their hurt, esp the tears. Currently, Visitation is being managed by my ds. He’s 8. His sister knows too well that her dad isn’t there for her but she still hopes everytime he puts on the glitter for the AP that she will finally matter to him. I realize he does nothing that doesn’t benefit him. Watching my kids learn this the hard way is agonizing.

  • Even grown children struggle with not feeling good enough to make Dad stay. This weekend I had a conversation in which I said “I don’t know who your dad is any more, he turned into someone else.” That’s about the best I could do. I’ve stopped trying to figure him out. Anyway, my son nodded and said “He turned into someone else for me too.” It’s just too hard to understand, better to just accept and move on. Still, it hurts to see my son wish for his father to change back into someone he knows.

  • Amen!!! He is NOT a good person.

    And when my 12-year old asks if Daddy is a bad person, I say, “you’re going to have to decide that for yourself. He has certainly made a lot of bad choices. But at the end of the day, all we can do is appreciate the good and recognize the bad for what it is — an example of how you DONT want to be.” Tough lesson to learn through your own father.

    • Geez I need to write this down! Because I know I’m going to need those words in the near future and I wont know what to say.
      “Appreciate the good and recognise the bad for what it is” Love that.

  • This post came at a perfect time. My stbx has been uninvolved in all 3 of his children’s lives for most of their lives. It came as a surprise when after filing for divorce he was requesting 50/50 placement with them and a nesting arrangement even though he lived out of state with his married gf. Then I saw how dramatically the 50/50 placement would decrease his child support payments. He fought me on all of this stating that it was me who alienated his children from him not that he was an absent neglectful father. The placement schedule has been ordered 80/20 which I think is fair since he is never around. The sad thing is he is now trying to manipulate his way out of his weekends. He states that I need to be flexible and agree to change the kids weekends for weekdays when he is busy with his gf. My 9 y/o still loves her dad and it is sad to watch her face when he doesn’t show up for a school play or some other activity he doesn’t show up at. I don’t know what I will tell her when he misses his placement times. Maybe give her a hug and tell her how much I love her.

    • Yeah, people going through divorce have to look very carefully at “out of the blue” requests for 50/50 or even full custody because some cheapskates would rather get the kids, ignore them and keep the money. Good for you at seeing through that–you would have ended up 80/20 but on 50/50 money. And what a baby to be worried about missing weekend time with his girlfriend.

  • I completely agree, the man I married should I have just realized he was not marriage material and not have kids because it is the norm. Not only did he walk from my life, but our children, and had no contact with them at all. The damage he has caused is immense, it will always be a scar in my childrens lives, and it all came out 4 days before Christmas so, every year they will have this memory. He is a disgrace and has a lot of gall in continuing this crap until this day.

  • My ex tells people I left her. I know this because I have a good friend who ran into my ex at the shopping centre one afternoon. My ex spilled her guts and said that she was “just going along” with what I wanted. What a load of fucking crap.

    Here is what really happened: She went away to the States for 2 weeks with her “training partner”, came back and told me it was over in the garage one afternoon. She went to town on me (I’ll spare you the details). She totally cut me down and left me speechless, then she went upstairs and got back onto Facebook.

    I’d suspected the affair for a long time, but had not real confirmation. I didn’t get it until a year later, when I was feeling better, rebuilding and thought that I’d done most of the really hard work that comes with the end of a 15 year relationship.

    We told our daughter that Daddy and Mummy don’t love eachother anymore, and that married people who aren’t in love shouldn’t stay together. We reassured her that it had nothing to do with her and that we will always love her, and will never leave her, no matter what.

    But my ex is narcissistic, through and through. My daughter hasn’t seen the hundreds of selfies she collects. She doesn’t know about the affair. She doesn’t understand my role as an enabler of a narcissistic personality.

    I would love to say: “Honey, your Mother is a selfish asshole. She discarded me in favour of another man because I wasn’t exciting enough. Your Mum thinks staying at home and looking after you is boring. Have you noticed that anything you do with her is always something she wants to do? She needs people to constantly praise her and build her up. If you’re not doing this then you’re the enemy. She doesn’t care about the support she got from me, which enabled her to spend so much time away from home without having to worry about you. Have you noticed that she turns herself into the subject of every conversation? Aren’t you getting tired of her bragging? Don’t worry, sweetheart, because you always have a home at my place where you can be yourself around people who genuinely care about you. When your Mother starts to devalue you, which will probably start around the time you turn 13 or 14, know that you can always escape to my place.”

    • That last paragraph was spot on! My children were in high school and college when my ex blew our world up. One day he’s on our family vacation to scout son’s colleges (but something was extremely off, his OW was turning the screws, we even changed hotel rooms! Yeah, clueless wife of 20 years, that’s me) and two weeks later he is sitting there on the couch with an ugly face telling me he wants a divorce. No sooner did he say that, in front of our teens btw, that I figured out I’d been doing the pick-me dance for about two years. I wonder what it takes to lie and cheat on someone who’s supported your life and dreams for twenty plus years. Kendoll, you are right when you say life was all about our exes. Mine would take us all out to dinner and then spend the next hour chatting up waitstaff because he had to listen to himself talk…Lol. My kids were pawns in the divorce. They are still. For two years it was a huge battle and when he figured out he couldn’t get any more money out of selling our home (his financial brilliance in refinancing the house twice! And pulling equity out for WTFever.) he walked. Oh yeah did I ever mention that he walked with only his personal belongings? And his expensive gun collection. And the 33k truck. No family photos. And let the house foreclose. On the months he did not pay me support he failed to make the house payment. And walked away from supporting our kids? Two in college. My youngest daughter spent a majority of her last summer packing twenty years worth of family stuff into boxes(we moved 800 miles back home) and what we didn’t give away we put into storage. She just graduated from college and not one dime of his precious money went to helping her. His son? He was off courting his new love and told me,” to figure it out [finances] because he’s your son.” My eldest he bought her a brand new car then tried to say it was ours (purchased with our stolen savings and then after she graduated college tried to take it away so he could give it to his Owife!) did not see that coming. One thing, I have learned it is really important NOT to SPACKLE. I try not to tell my kids he LOVES them because I allow his ACTIONS to speak. It’s what I should have done all along. It’s hard though because in my marriage I did it ALL the time. I made excuses for him all the time. And these kids used to run into their father’s arms when he returned home from work. It has made our whole life a lie. I worry now about my kids. They are young adults now and this experience has made them bitter and fragile. My two youngest do not date at all. My ex is so HAPPY with his new life that he only shows up on special occasions so he can tell himself he did any thing that mattered. That nightmare will leave a legacy. I just tell my kids to surround themselves with people who care for them, and this may not be family, and to focus on what they want. Our exes were beyond Assholes.

    • I think I married your wife’s sister!

      Wow. the last para was spot on. You’re very good at describing the narc behaviour. wow.

  • Thank you so much for posting this! This has to be one of the best posts ever. My ex asshole was never around when we were together, never there for our kids and is still the same when he decided to abandon his family for the blonde. I tried for probably a good 12 months after he left to “include” him what was happening in the kids lives. Got told via many text messages from him and the OW that is was my responsibility to keep him involved… Funny thing is the OW was posting on her facebook wall very early on, you think your a great mother but we know the truth!… What the??? Told my kids the truth. My kids are now 16 and 18. My son said to me very early on after he left that dad is a dick and he didn’t want anything to do with him. My daughter and I were talking the other day about a book called 52 reasons I hate my dad. I said but you don’t hate your dad. She said yes and no. I hate him because he is an asshole. He has never been there for me anyway. She still sees him once every few months. My son doesn’t speak to him. They do understand. I realised this when my daughter gave me a card for mother’s day which said I love you mum. Thank you for being my mum and my dad.

  • Here’s the bad thing – I wish my child’s father wouldn’t show up. When he’s with our teenage daughter, it’s the poor me, I’m so lonely, your mother is so angry and mean to me, etc, etc. The gas lighting and manipulation he spins on her is unbelievable. She has asked us both not to discuss the situation with her and respect her request and I don’t. He of course doesn’t. She has come home several times in tears after spending time with him and being manipulated into feeling sorry for him. Then I have to pick up the pieces. I’m honest and straightforward with her – I simply say ‘your dad made his choices and he has to live with the consequences. I don’t feel sorry for him at all’. It’s getting better – she told me recently that she doesn’t feel sorry for him anymore. I’m sure he’ll keep spinning it though. It’s hard and it takes time to unwind the lies, deceit, and manipulation tactics but we’re getting there.

  • My mother always said for me to judge my biological father not as he treated her as a husband but how he treated me as a father. He failed there too. He walked out on the marriage when I was an infant and stopped coming for visitation when I was ten. He at least paid his paltry child support.

    When my husband walked out, I said I waited for this moment all my life. I was prepared.

    Life is funny. My father has another daughter who claims she is an only child. She kept a very public blog of Jerry Springer proportions. She had a baby when she was eighteen. The baby’s father bailed. Must run in the family.

    • My mother always said for me to judge my biological father not as he treated her as a husband but how he treated me as a father.

      Of course, how he treated your mother was a reflection of HIS character, and his treatment of so-called loved ones, and was not a reflection of your mother. And you cannot separate how a man treats the mother of his children from how he treats his children, because cruelty to their mother is cruelty to them. And a cruel asshole is a cruel asshole, not just to one person.

      Your mother had noble intentions, but the truth is that his treatment of your mother most certainly was a very good indication of how he would treat you. That’s what these guys are.

  • He told me this was the best time to leave us because the kids would NOT know any better? (I was pregnant at the time with a toddler and an infant). He also said he was leaving me, not the kids. This confused me because he is still providing financial support and being involved…so is he good or bad?

    • But we still have a long way to go to know, as our youngest is only one year old…

      • Ouch. This will be a long road, Plain, but at least cheater is out of your life, if not the kids. Read up on boundaries, and get a rock solid parenting plan. And keep reading here. It has been a long two years for me (DD is 14), but there are lots of Chump parents here who got me through it, and still do.


    • The answer to your question is: he is bad and gas lighting you to make you think that the children “won’t know any better.” of course they will. But whether they are aware of the abandonment now or sometime in the future doesn’t change the fact that he abandoned all of you.

    • ugh!! mine told me that too “i left you, i did not leave the kids”

      see my answer above. there is not another way to leave the house, leave your children behind with no daddy there for them every day in their lifes. how can that be not leaving your kids.

      the more i read, the more i am beginning to think that is just another thing cheaters say to make themselves feel better. of course they left the kids!!!! abandonment is abandonment.

      the definition is
      a·ban·don1 [uh-ban-duhn]
      verb (used with object)
      1. to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon one’s farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship. give up; discontinue; withdraw from: to abandon a research project; to abandon hopes for a stage career. give up the control of: to abandon a city to an enemy army. yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation; give (oneself) over to natural impulses, usually without self-control: to abandon oneself to grief.
      5.Law. to cast away, leave, or desert, as property or a child.

  • I’m fortunate that my son is a young adult who can see through his father’s crap. When I encouraged him to stay in contact with his dad, he outright said that he is not going to be part of an unhealthy dynamic. He figures if his dad wants to lead a messed-up life, he can go at it alone. I have told him I will support whatever decision he makes.

  • Thanks for this, CL. Many of the books and websites I read encouraged the chump parent NOT to discuss the affair. It was all about not alienating the kids, doing damage control, etc. That didn’t sit well with me, and it didn’t sit well with my kids. At the time, my daughter was very young, so my “grown-up problem” euphemism worked for her. My eldest son was no dope, and his younger brother was born an old man, so they harped on that over and over. Finally, with the blessing from the kids’ counselor that I could tell the truth when asked any direct questions, my eldest asked the 64,000 question: “Mom, did Dad leave you for [Owife]?”

    There’s no getting around that question without lying or being ridiculously evasive. It was almost a relief to me to tell him yes. The questions started coming in the days ahead, and I answered everything calmly and factually. I can tell you that it lowered the anxiety levels of all of us– my kids were no longer dealing with a nameless, faceless monster that had apparently ended their parents’ marriage through the use of some dark magic, and I no longer had this hideous secret to keep. I think that telling the kids the truth has been part of the reason that they are doing well. They know that their father did something terrible and that I had to end our marriage because of it. They understand that you shouldn’t break promises that you make, especially in relationships, and that there will be many consequences if you do. I was just telling my eldest the other day that if there was one thing I hope he learned from the divorce is that he should never treat anyone he’s in a relationship with that way.

    It’s disgusting how many shit sandwiches we are supposed to eat throughout the whole affair and subsequent ending of the relationship. I refused to spackle my ex-cheater’s behavior to our children; I think that goes too far. I also have to wonder if that’s part of the reason why narcissism and selfishness run rampant in our society. We aren’t supposed to make anyone feel bad or suffer consequences for their despicable behavior, and when we model that for our kids– “Oh honey, your dad just made some bad choices”– then it’s no wonder that some of them likely turn around and repeat the same behavior as adults with their own chumpy mate and chumpy children.

    Our kids have been put through enough. They deserve the truth so that they can make an informed decision about what sort of relationship they want with the cheater parent, and they need to know the truth so that they don’t follow the same pattern.

    • Our kids have been put through enough. They deserve the truth so that they can make an informed decision about what sort of relationship they want with the cheater parent, and they need to know the truth so that they don’t follow the same pattern.

      Yes so true MovingOn.

  • Needing advice… Do I tell my adult kids, 20 and 22 that still live with me, what I learned about the ex. He is seeing a woman, not the one that he left for, but he is still making out with first one at work, in the milk freezer (one of the smelliest places in a grocery store) apparently true love knows no boundaries!!!!! He is telling my daughter that he is changing, becoming a better person. I’m pretty damn sure that kissing your old flame, while seeing a new one is not a good thing. Do I keep it to myself or do I just tell what I found out. I do not ask for this info or look for stuff about him at all. It’s been 4 months since anyone has told me anything about ex at all.

    • I would suggest you don’t. It’s not part of why you git divorced or your life anymore.

      • I agree with diana. It’s none of your or their business. It’s just gossip. It might be true, but it’s ugly. It makes it sound like you’re caught up in that jack-ass’s drama. Your goal is to get far away from that drama. It’s petty, and beneath you.

        The kids don’t want to hear it, don’t want to have to console you about it, and it’s not an appropriate topic of discussion with your children (even as adults). You should talk about that with your friends, instead.

        Maybe ask your daughter, “How is he showing you that he’s a better person? How has your relationship with him actually improved, or are those words?” That’s a good skill for her to hone, anyway. But REFRAIN from gossiping about your ex. I promise you will feel really good about yourself if you show restraint in this matter.

    • Best advice: Pay attention to your life. WITHOUT asshole. You know HE SUCKS. And I am pretty sure your children will figure this out. I don’t want to know anything about my ex. Karma works wonders though. Let the world and your ex’s choices happen. Move forward. Allow good in.

    • Thanks for the responses. It’s difficult some days to just Let It Go. I am tired of all this already. It is petty and beneath me to gossip. I guess nothing in life is fair, it just seems that he gets to do and be and lie about lots of things and just get away with it. But you are right, I need to let this go and let the good things in. My kids want to see him as he had been, as he had tricked us into believing he was. But they need to figure out what kind of relationship they have with him, and I just need to pray that everything turns out ok.

  • XFIL left when XH was 16. XH struggled with it for years and told me repeatedly he would NEVER do to me what XFIL had done to his family.

    Yet 31 years later, almost to the day, XH moved out and gave his kids the same topsy-turvy lifestyle he had as a teen. Totally ticked me off.

    Yet I keep showing up and doing my job, and it’s paying off. The kids have won awards, been given scholarships, are top in their class, etc. – and XH knows nothing about it. I refuse to tell him because he’ll either say, “See? I knew they’d be alright” or “Of course they’re doing well! They can’t help but be awesome with MY DNA!”

    Maybe someday I’ll enlighten him, but for now, I just keep telling my kids how amazing they are to do as well as they have with all they’ve been through. It makes them work that much harder to overcome it! 😉

  • Whether someone has feelings for me, or for my children, really doesn’t matter. What matters is their actions.

    My children and I are lovable. I love them, my parents love them, they love each other, their friends love them, their friends’ parents love them, their teachers love them.

    Yes, as Tracy says, the people who love them show up, even when it’s not convenient, even when there are other things.

    I think their father’s ability to love–to REALLY LOVE–to show up, to be a man, to guide, to protect, to be a confident role model–is broken. Their father has feelings, but what matters to the kids really needs to be his actions. Consistently. Feelings are not a guide. Values are a guide. Feelings then follow.

    I don’t tell my children that their father is a coward. I think they’ve figured out that walking out on me, and on them, was a shitty thing to do–the shittiest, maybe. I hope they know their value and their values, through their consistent relationships, through the way people treat them and they way they treat others, through role modeling by GOOD fathers (my kids know SO many GOOD fathers) and teachers and friends.

    They’re disappointed in their father. They’ve filled their lives and hearts with other things. The hurt put there by their father will never be erased, but it will ease. I don’t know what their future holds–I hope they will never follow in their father’s footsteps (I will NOT follow in my ex mother-in-law’s footsteps.)

    I think it’s ok to gently point out to a kid that his/her father is not reliable, that their ABILITY to love anyone is seriously compromised. I one time heard Dr. Laura (I know, I know–but she did have good moments) give an analogy for a child: Imagine an adorable puppy on the sidewalk–all cute and fluffy and trusting and sweet! And imagine someone comes up and kicks the puppy for NO reason. Would you say that the puppy deserved it? Or would you say that there is something wrong with that someone who kicked a puppy? Not everyone is nice to people who deserve better. That is no reflection on the person who deserves love; it’s a reflection on the person who is broken.

    It hurts to go without. And nothing breaks my heart more for my kids than the fact that they, of all people, deserved two good parents, and one failed them. Maybe I failed them by picking their father to be their father. But not having a good father is not their fault. It is their pain, but not their fault. Their burden, but not their shame. We are not less-than, and I refuse to make us victims. I think it’s wrong to say, “He loves you.” I know that he is broken, that he is chasing demons.

  • Chump Lady-

    I love this: ““I have no idea how or why your father did this, but I am here for you, and I would never leave you.” It’s the truth.”

    My kids are adults and both of them know the truth about what happened. (I gave them both a copy of your book too) It’s hard to know what to say about their dad without disparaging them too. After all, half of their DNA comes from him and saying horrible things about him, makes me feel like I would be saying horrible things about them. I told them he had an affair and I didn’t editorialize but they are both confused about why I won’t have anything to do with him. You’ve given me some great material today!

  • Wow What a post. Today I was accused by my STBX of not showing ‘courtesy’ towards him.
    Situation I sit in the oncology clinic with our daughter for hours waiting for her turn to go into theatre and he expects me to message him when she goes under so he can then leave his work 10min away and be there when she wakes up. Sit on the bed manopolysing her while I am expected to sit else where or leave the room entirly so he can have daddy daughter time. Got so angry today as I am sick of being used like a personal assistant/nanny.
    Little does he know I had actually asked if she wanted him there and she was not fussed either way so it is not like she is a clingy daddy’s girl. he was with her all of 10mins then made his excusses and left. Yet as usually my frustration at this is seen as an indication that I am not dealing with my issues. I have never wanted to punch the shit out of something as I do him and my kids are being used as tools.
    this on top of the asshole taking our son on (15) a outing on the weekend, who then came home and expressed that he was very uncomfortable and wondered it the other person was a current AP son even took photos of the two of them (they were to caught up in their own things to notice) as their physical closeness was a little too much for our son.
    So over the crap while being always expected to play nice.

    • I refuse to be personal assistant/secretary/drone for xH. I refused also to be his confidante early after bomb-drop. I told him if he wanted a friend that he had a new one, or he could call his mother. I arrange nothing for xH, tell him nothing. He can figure it all out just the same way I do. That’s what he chose. I owe him NOTHING. I do not speak to him. We are not partners.

      I merely survive the times he is with the kids. The kids accept whatever time he elects to dole out to them. They arrange their time with him. I don’t bad-mouth their father, I don’t punish my kids for seeing him (I know you don’t either, but I know mothers who do.) I am simply the soft place for my kids to come HOME to. He is the disruption.

      I think I would just get through your ex arriving at the hospital (HE can ask the nurses and doctors when visiting time is appropriate, not you, especially if he is going to be shitty about it. He can ask for surgery and test results FROM the medical staff, not from you. You owe him nothing.

      If I am with the kids and xH shows up (such as to a sporting event or graduation), I yield, let him spend his awkward 10 minutes, and then enjoy the time after he leaves. My attitude is, “Well, thank God that’s over.” I yield because I have the kids all the time, and he is the disruption, as I mentioned. And I’m just getting that out of the way, with a minimum of awkwardness and tension and grief. I don’t want to poison my relationship with the kids by policing, insulting, venting, etc. I want to be the sunny, happy parent. I had to fake it for a long time. “Oh, you’re going/went to your dad’s? Oh, that’s nice.” Then I change the subject to something funny or otherwise lovely. The kids might have picked up from my energy that I was tense and faking it, but faking it actually got me relaxed more quickly, and kept the relationship with the kids very light and easy.
      Your ex is a complete DICK to have brought a companion along on his father-son time. Even my ex doesn’t do that. Some of these guys act like their kids are an inconvenience, and they make them the third wheel. That is such an asshole move. I think I would say to my son, “Eh, that’s awkward! That sucks! You were hoping to have time with just your dad, weren’t you? Maybe next time ask him if you can spend time with just him–or ask him to find a time when he can just hang out with only you and not some other friend, because it makes things really awkward. Can you do that?” And, you know, if that doesn’t work out, eventually your son will find fewer and fewer reasons and time to spend with him. He’ll realize his dad is a jerk. That will hurt, but if your son has good friends and healthy activities, he’ll be ok. He has YOU.

      • One more thing. I hope I don’t come across as picking on you. I don’t mean to. I just realize how hard this all is.

        You said, “Yet as usually my frustration at this is seen as an indication that I am not dealing with my issues. ”

        I would work toward not giving a shit what he thinks about you. Because what he says he thinks, or his verbalized judgement of you can be and is being used to manipulate you. He’s able to project his weakness onto you, able to act as though you’re the one with the problem–and still see if you care what he thinks. And he can see that you do care. NEVER say, “I don’t care what you think.” Because saying it means you do care. Just try not to spend any time with him where he gives an opinion of you or a judgement of you. And exercise ULTIMATE restraint. Do not react to him. Simply walk away, and make yourself scarce. Act uninterested in what he has to say, because you are uninterested. End any conversation quickly, only if you MUST converse with him, and I would avoid it altogether as much as possible.
        You can DO it!

        Do not engage him ever. He’s a toxic asshole who is poisoning your life.

        • “Do not engage him ever. He’s a toxic asshole who is poisoning your life.”

          Great post Miss Sunshine, and the last line says it in a nutshell.

    • It’s tough Sammie. I agree with Miss S: he can call the hospital staff.

      As for sharing kid time with AP/SO, that ‘s tough as well. My kids have only seen their father 5x in the past year (he moved away). Three times they went to him, so OWife and baby were there. 2x he came to our state and stayed with the grandparents… 1x with OWife and baby, and I later found out OWife and baby were supposed to come the other time as well.

      Just makes me sad that xH will not give my kids the one-on-one time the kids deserve.
      Apparently son (10) was quite upset that weekend. ExH said they had a couple of hours of 1-on-1 time, and he was consulted with all plans/ activities. I refrained from pointing out son had not seen his father for 3 months and needed more time than that.
      Son wanted to be with his father, not father with new wife and a baby (who got all the attention, for whom all activities had to be planned around, etc).

      ExH’s loss.

  • Gaslight your own kid….

    I am so stunned… I kept making excuses for him. May God and my son forgive me. I am sorry son. I am so sorry I brought him into your life.

    • But he has YOU, So Sad.

      That counts. I did the same in the early days, I think we all did, out of shock.

      Hang in there!

  • Love your post! Very encouraging to all who visit this website. 🙂 Thank you for all you do!

  • During an overnight visit (my brother’s right to which she strongly opposed in court), my SIL announced that she was moving to an Asian country, leaving her 2 year old son with only the items in his overnight bag. My brother had no time to prepare in advance, making a difficult transition even more horrible. In addition to replacing clothes, toys and books, he had to stop working until he could arrange nursery school (which required a birth certificate). In an effort to try to do what is best for the child long term, he has to moderate the selfish, thoughtless and unkind FaceTime conversations the child’s mother insists on having. (who calls back six times to say repeatedly say “goodbye”, leaving the 2 year old in tears each time? No wonder the kid keeps hanging up on her.)
    I sent your article to my brother today. I agree that “love shows up (reliably)”, and that it’s ok to say “I don’t know why she does what she does” rather than give the f’d-up message that this crap is “love”. Let’s break the cycle now.

  • My XH had 3 daughters from previous relationships. He was the crappiest daddy ever and, yet, they all think the sun rises and sets with him. They vie for his attention even though they know who he is. They have seen him ruin 3 marriages, watched him ignore his firstborn (he hasn’t seen her since she was 10), watched him lie again and again about EVERYTHING and they can’t get close enough to him. His 2nd daughter tried to commit suicide twice in her teen years and wouldn’t let him near her. When she was 19 she uncovered memories of sexual abuse at his hands and now, she and her 2 month old daughter live with he and his live in. His 3rd daughter has a 10 year old son that is spending the summer with grandpa and his live in. He hates these kids. The only reason he is doing all of this is because it looks good to the new audience he has found. So, I ask again, WHY do they even want him in their lives??? He is an asshole and they all know it.

  • Wow. I’m so glad that I stumbled on to your site today through this article a friend shared on FB. My daughter is 2.5, and her dad left to play house with OW when she was only 14 months. So, even though it being just me and her is her “normal,” I am scared to death of the day she starts asking this question. Her father has some contact, though right now he’s not taking her for weekends because he doesn’t agree with the morality clause in the divorce papers (filed, still waiting), and so he says it’s “safer until the court directs us as to what to do.” I’m just like….so having OW around our daughter is more important than our daughter’s time with YOU?

    He of course has been the victim in this whole situation, going on and on about how I have all this support and no one talks to him, blah blah blah. I am so tired of it. I with he wasn’t present at all at this point, it would make life so much easier. :/

    • though right now he’s not taking her for weekends because he doesn’t agree with the morality clause in the divorce papers (filed, still waiting), and so he says it’s “safer until the court directs us as to what to do.”

      more like- I am busy with my life how it is and a todler who needs undevided attention and possibly her butt changed it way too much for me to handle….

      what a jerk

    • my first born never had her dad in her life. i used to worry like you about what questions would she ask. the first question came when she was 5 and her kindgarten class had a daddy and me thing. she just asked me “do i have a daddy?” i just said “yes” and started thinking what am i going to tell this child? but she happily said “oh ok” and ran off to play while i sat there shocked.

      over the years the questions came and went. i answered her honestly and truthfully and age appropriately. details are not important, just answer the question. i always told her i will tell her the truth, that i would help her find him if she wanted, that i would never leave her. she grew up well adjusted and even after finding him herself, she made her own opinion of him and never hated me for what happened. we have a awesome relationship built on trust, and unconditional love

      • Thank you for replying, it truly helps to hear that kids can really be ok with this, as long as we as parents are honest and open and don’t try to paint an unrealistic point of view. I was the “strange” one growing up out of my friends because my parents actually stayed together! So, I totally don’t have a relatable place to come from on this. :/

  • Here! Here! The truth!

    I did not have any kids with my ex (thank you Jesus!) but a good friend of mine does have kids with her ex and I just wanted to say how proud I am of her. She never gas-lighted his atrocious behavior. Yes, she vented to several of us when he took the kids and bought them every toy they wanted, but she held that shit in when her kiddos were around. I could only imagine how hard that is to do. I don’t think I could have done it. I told my dogs how terrible their ‘daddy’ was. Thank God they could not talk back.

    And like my friends kids have realized, my dogs also realized in their own way, that ‘daddy’ was indeed an asshole. I’ll never forget the day when ‘daddy’ chose to drop by (yes, I was pitiful in those days!) and my dogs sniffed him and then turned away like he was a foul smelling piece of decomposing flesh. Which, when you really think about it, was sorta the truth.

    Getting back to my friend and her human kids, she has been the rock in their lives. She does not waver and she never shuck them off on weekends for ‘her’ time. She is their MOTHER. She understands all the responsibility that goes with that. She wants only what is best for her kids and they have flourished and become really great kids (not that they weren’t before, but, honestly, with a daddy like he is they could be lunatics). They are doing so good in school and soon will be going to college. She has been the glue that has kept them together. They have seen first hand how fucked up their daddy still is. They still love their daddy but they look upon at him as some sort of lost soul.

    Bravo to all the moms and dads on here (and generally walking the earth) that have been the lighthouse in the storm, the rock upon which their kids have anchored themselves. You folks are truly wonderful and amazing.

  • Wow, well it’s always a little bit strange to stumble across yourself on the internet like this. Anyways, hi, I’m Eden the author.

    I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t really browsed your site (I’m half making dinner and half replying to comments online). I just figured I’d throw my two cents in on my article because I think there may have been a misunderstanding. When I said “you assure her that she is loved,” I mean loved in general. Definitely not loved by her father. No, no, no, no. You are correct, that would be lying to my kid. I never tell her that he loves her. As far as me not telling her that he is a bad person, I think that’s probably a personal decision. She is five, three when he left, and she was so distraught over the fact that she had a “bad daddy” and that a “bad daddy” made her, that for us it was easier to say that he is not a bad human being, but to acknowledge that he made a bad choice that really hurt her. Do I think that he is a bad human being? Absolutely and unfortunately time will show her that. As she gets older and is able to grasp more, our talks will change.

    Either way, whether or not we share the same perspectives I appreciate that you are looking out for the well being of children stuck in a sucky situation, because when it really comes down to it, we need all the help we can get with them!

  • My husband’s ex left him for her OBGYN. Yep, the guy who delivered both of their daughters. The affair was concealed, and my husband agreed to divorce and time-sharing terms without knowing the full picture. She married the doctor eight months after the divorce from my husband. She apparently told the children she had to leave daddy because they didn’t see eye to eye on decision-making, while the expedited remarriage timeline was never explained. To this day (five years later) the girls have no idea what really happened. Nor are they asking many questions, as their lives were miraculously transformed overnight by wealth and now they take limo rides to Disney. There is another element that has been woven into the narrative by their mother, as though it’s some kind of beautiful blessing from above: “God meant for you to have this new family, girls. After all, your stepdad was the first person ever to see your faces. He delivered you! Isn’t that neat?”

  • I am being age-appropriately honest with my children, without putting things onto them that their little shoulders can’t carry. At least I hope that’s what I’m doing….
    That’s what I’m aiming for.
    I have never said Dad is a bad person; but, as everybody has said, kids get it. My 8 yr old went on a playdate to a new friend’s house and his Mum told me he said “My Dad doesn’t live with us anymore. He’s a bad man. He did XYZ”.
    I guess that shows me my son is judging his Father on his actions. But, part of me still wants to deny he’s a bad man. Because I’m shit scared the boy is going to think that the bad is in him as well! The books say the kids will internalise that and believe it’s a part of them. With all the other fuckupedness my kids do not need to think they’re somehow ‘bad’.
    It’s a really sucky balancing act. And whatever I do I’m screwed because my STBXH has the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card; I got a protection order.
    So, whenever he weasels his way back into my kids’ lives he will have the perfect excuse for why he was never around. Of course he reeaaalllly wanted to be there for them! Your Mum was just a mega-bitch who lied and blah blah. I’m scared of him undermining everything I do to raise them happy. And he will. Because it will make him feel better.

    Thanks CL for a reinforcing pat on the shoulder. I really need it.

  • I’ve been meaning to get back over to ChumpNation to draft a response, as I’ve just had an encounter with my dad that made me think about this (before I had the misfortune of marrying the sleeping-bag-bunny-hopping XH, I was a Chump Daughter). Dad was – and still is – a notorious cheater, currently “legally separated” from Wife #4 who’s the same age as me, and dating some new poor schmuck. And if I’ve learned one thing from divorcing the XH, and from some good individual therapy sessions, it’s that I wound up marrying someone just like my damned father – I just wasn’t fully aware of it at the time.

    I always thought my dad was a bit of a spoiled football jock, so I thought I was avoiding the scenario my mother endured by marrying someone who was *so sparkly* and intelligent, a fellow lawyer like me, who valued education, interested in politics, etc. and he smothered me with compliments, telling me how wonderful I was and how lucky he was to be with me, etc. (We already know how that turned out, and he’s nothing more than an opportunistic, life-sucking narcissist with a large vocabulary.)

    But growing up, I was THE typical over-achieving kid, and to hear my dad criticize me (i.e., for only getting on Dean’s List, but not maintaining a perfect 4.0; for missing that free throw in the Varsity basketball game that HE could’ve made with his eyes closed, etc.) or worse – for him to lie to me to get out of his scheduled weekends with me or forgetting a few birthdays – that would hurt me terribly. I constantly strived to be “perfect.” My mom was never pleased about this of course, and while I knew the gritty details of his infidelity at age 13, she would nevertheless try to reassure me (or hope?) that he did love me and wanted what was best for me.

    I couldn’t wrap my head around it back then, but I certainly do now. It was f*cked up for my dad to do those terrible things and think that saying “I love you” somehow excuses it. It doesn’t excuse it, and that not what “love” looks like. CL sums it up perfectly: Love shows up.
    And definitely not when it only benefits him, or only makes him look good, or when he wants/needs something.

    What I’ve noticed after all of this crap with my XH, is that my tolerance for my father’s own narcissistic bullshit is now well below zero. These days, he lives less than an hour from me, but he only calls me when he wants something (usually money) due to an “emergency” of his own making. He actually just pulled out a line from the XH’s playbook to justify the recent predicament he’s in, “It’s not like I MEANT for it to happen!” It just made me shudder to think how many times the XH had said that to me, and how many times ol’ chumpy me bought it. And I had this visceral reaction to the whole ridiculous, chaotic, stupid scenario that HE created and was looking to me to fix. And I said no. I put down the spackle trowel and stepped away.

    For me, it’s better to have as little contact as possible w/ my dad. This has really come to light for me during and after my divorce. The similarities between his personality and the XH’s are sickening: always feeling entitled; their actions should be always absolved of negative consequences; saying one thing but acting in a completely opposite manner; they’re very, very *special*; inconsistent; childish; short-sighted; and is quick to launch personal insults if he doesn’t get his way. These folks do not change, and the sooner we are able to recognize these behaviors and call it out for what it is (and not coat things in that industrial-reconciliation-complex-fluffy bullshit), the better.

  • Awesome post and comments!

    My exH left when the kids were 2 and 5 – that was six years ago and they have not seen him since. I have only had to see him twice during this past year in court. Shudder.

    From the time they were little, I told them that their daddy had made some bad choices, and that was why we divorced. My daughter (5) overheard a conversation I was having with my attorney, and asked me point blank if daddy had a girlfriend, and I told her “yes”. She then said, “You aren’t allowed to date when you’re married.” Yep. I know there is a part of her who will always love her little girl memories of her daddy, but she is disgusted by him and his pathetic life now.

    My son was 2 at the time, and remembers almost nothing. He is more curious than anything, and also knows (sissy told him) that his dad made LOTS of bad choices. I’ve also explained to them that their dad loved them as much as he was capable of loving, but that because his heart and head didn’t understand how families were supposed to work (his family of origin is 31 flavors of f’ed up), he never really knew how to be a husband and father, and he never seemed to want to do the work it would take to learn. That has seemed to be sufficient at this stage; and neither seem to blame themselves at all, which was my goal.

    I ditto the male role models – karate, hockey, teachers, uncles…as many ways as you can so that your kids can see that there ARE good and decent men out there.

  • I’ve just spent the last hour crying over all of our situations. I looked up the website today as I had a fedex delivery earlier and my 6 year old daughter ran to the door to see who it was (she can see but can’t open it) she then ran back to tell me that she thought it was her Daddy at the door! She was sooo excited – I was having a heart attack – anyway, just the delivery driver. Her disappointment was huge. My husband of many years left us when I was pregnant with her and she has no living memory of him. He lives abroad and did come to visit when she was 2 but hasn’t been back since. The other 2 kids are now 15 and 16 and remember their Dad. They remember a great guy, fun, but introspective too. Inspiring and reliable and creative. I remember him too. A wonderful man I loved to bits and then one night he packed his bag for a business trip. I made him a cup of tea and waited for him to come down and drink it before jumping into the taxi. He read from a piece of paper. He had found true love! It wasn’t an affair. Noooo. Now he knew what love truly was and he was off to live with her in another country. Goodbye.
    I was still sitting on the sofa with my tea and my mouth gaping wide open from the shock. I hadn’t said a word.
    That was it. We waited for 3 months for him to come to his senses. (I would have done the pick me dance if I he was there to notice). Anyway, It didn’t happen and I was living in some weird country in the Middle East. I had to pack up the house and move my pregnant belly and 2 children to my home country – where I hadn’t lived for 18 years – but I didn’t know where else to go. I was living on another planet.
    My son is unforgiving although I’ve never said a bad word about his father. I worry that he will be bitter forever, after all, he’s been gone for 7 years and I would have hoped that he could forgive and move on. I don’t know why I would expect that as I’ve not been able to. My eldest daughter will not let it get to her. She says she doesn’t care, she doesn’t miss him, her memory of him is a great Dad, but she must have been mistaken, etc.
    My little one is the most hurt but I take great comfort in her honest assessment of the situation. She asks, “why doesn’t Daddy live with us”. I say that he didn’t love Mummy anymore even though he loved his children a lot. “well, that’s not very nice”.
    then there’s, “But you’re supposed to love the person you married”
    “he misses out on all the fun here”
    “Does Santa know where he lives”
    “he must be very lonely”
    “why doesn’t he move to this country so he can be near his family”
    “if he doesn’t visit soon, he might not know who we are”
    “it would be good if someone else – like my Daddy – could read to me at night”
    “he doesn’t love us. He doesn’t even know us!”
    “why can’t I have a real dad”
    “Mummy, I don’t think you should find us another Dad because he might also not love you and then we would miss out on 2 Dads”

    Clearly, if I am on this website, the whole situation is still difficult for me and I look for leads from you guys to help me to move on and perhaps even understand a little but I don’t get it. The woman he left me for has left him and he is alone for the first time in 29 years. Karma’s a bitch.

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