Dealing with an Ex Husband that is Irresponsible

You’re dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible and wonder what to tell your children?

> There are many levels of irresponsibility. Is he irresponsible because he picks your children up late (if at all,) breaks promises, doesn’t see them, and forgets their birthday?

Little Christy sits at the door waiting for daddy to come. She has grandiose plans for the week-end and is so excited about seeing him. Her bags are packed sitting by the door. She keeps looking out the window in anticipation. As nighttime approaches, she begins to cry, “Daddy’s not coming.”

What’s a mom to do?

This is the heart of dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible. We hate seeing our children suffer. It fuels our anger and makes us want to strangle his neck and be a good responsible father.

There is nothing you can do to change your ex-husbands behavior. However, you can be there to comfort your child.

1) Do not make excuses for your ex. This includes not telling your child that their daddy loves her and that he must have had a good reason for not showing.

2) Tell your child the truth, “I don’t know why daddy did not show up.”

3) Emphasize how much you love her, and that you will always be there.

4) Do something special with your child. This will strengthen your bond and help her to feel safe that you are there for her.

> On the other hand is he irresponsible because he fails to pay child support and his portion of the bills, he lacks regular work or is an alcoholic or drug addict?

Johnny comes home and notices that the electric is turned off. It was your ex’s responsibility to pay the bill. Be truthful with Johnny. Tell him that your electric is off because his father did not pay the bill. Don’t elaborate. If you start calling your ex names and saying he never pays anything, your child may feel the urge to take their fathers side. He should not be in this position. Just state the facts and let your child come to his own conclusions.

When dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible and does not pay his child support, your best course of action is to the courts and have his pay garnished. Be sure you always keep his social security number. This way child support personnel will have a better chance of finding out when and where he is working. Be financially responsible for yourself and do not depend on child support.

When dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible due to drug or alcohol addiction, accept the fact that there is no dealing with them. They are usually incapable of accepting responsibility for themselves, and will not listen to reason. If he arrives at your home drunk or high, do not let him in your home. Don’t let your children leave with him. If he gets irate, call the police.

Tips for dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible:

1) Calmly, explain to him how much he is hurting your children.

2) Ask him not to make promises that he cannot/will not keep.

3) Be positive and encourage his good behavior. (Remember you’re treating him like a kid.)

4) Give him a window of opportunity. For example if he is 30-minutes late, then take the kids out to a movie, to the park or out for ice-cream.

Dealing with an ex-husband that is irresponsible is much like dealing with a child. You need to stick to the point, be firm, and remain calm. Don’t expect him to change overnight. Be realistic that he may never change. This is his problem, not yours. Your problem lays in how you act and respond.

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  1. I can’t get into this one from a parent’s point of view, but I can from the child’s. My father wasn’t really around and didn’t pay a cent until I was a teen and we accidently ended up living in the same town as him. We have a great relationship now… he had been addicted to drugs and got cleaned up, but before he wasn’t even around.

    Being honest with what is happening is fine, but kids don’t need all of the details. You don’t want to attack the father. If you start calling them names, bad mouthing them, cussing… those types of things just make kids feel bad.

    Especially when the father doesn’t show up for visitation… I was sad enough he said he’d come and he didn’t. I was more sad when my mom would start yelling and cussing about how he never shows up and he always hurts my feelings. I didn’t want her to be mad when I was already sad, you know?

    • Thanks Amanda for your comments! That is exactly the point that I was trying to make. Be honest, but don’t blame and/or make excuses for the ex.

  2. I can’t imagine how hard that would be to have to try to explain to your child why his daddy isn’t there to pick him up or isn’t there for an important event. I know your blog is helping so many women in this difficult situation, Cindy. Blessings!

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