Many of you dads out there feel estranged, intimidated and lost when it comes to your kids. I have good news for you: it’s never too late to make amends with your kids. Here’s why. Every child carries a longing in his heart for his/her father. If he had a bad father, he wants more healing. If he had a good father, he wants more time. Period.
But here’s the problem for you dads who are lonely and feeling guilty. You don’t believe this. If you have abandoned your kids but have come to your senses, or if your wife has turned your kids against you and you want them back, you need to understand a few things before you reconcile with your children.
First, because of their history with you (regardless whose fault it was) your children (regardless of their age) are hurting. Kids and even adult children express their hurt towards you as anger. This is what trips most fathers up when they try to reconcile. Dads reach out, get rebuffed and their feelings get hurt. So, they retreat from the kids and give up hope. You can’t do this. The kids are mad, mad, mad so acknowledge their anger and deal with it. Let them get it out and tell them that you are terribly sorry for the hurt they have suffered (even if the majority was from your ex wife telling them you were a skunk.)
Don’t walk away from their anger but let them know you can handle it. This will help them get past it. Once they do (and this may takes months, not weeks or days) they will feel sad and very vulnerable. Stay strong, stay patient and loving and let them know that you are serious about having a relationship. Let them know that you’re not going away. Don’t bully them. Don’t get mad at them. Don’t argue. Just listen patiently and wait. Show up again and again with kindness even if they say mean things. Here’s the deal- you are the grown up in the relationship. Even adult children act like they are 15 years old at times if they have been deeply wounded by a parent. That’s why it’s up to you to be more in control, more patient, more long suffering. They are still the child, you are still the parent.