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Arorah77's picture

This is a complex one. 

But, the fundamentals are that my partner, that I love so, so much, occasionally gets overwhelming guilt. His children are 6 and 9. The 9 year old misses her mum when spending longer stretches of time with dad (my partner). She cries, and is sometimes inconsolable, despite my partner being the most wonderful dad. 

He initiated the split with the children’s mum. She did not want to split, but he was incredibly unhappy.

When he tells me about these episodes with his daughter, I never know what to say. I start to feel responsible myself somehow... he says it hurts him so much to feel his own daughter doesn’t want to be with him. 

Has anyone else experienced this? What advice do you have?

Thank you! Aurora 






ndc's picture

Do you know for sure that the 9 year old doesn't do the same thing when she misses her dad?  What's their custody schedule?

My SO shares his kids 50/50 with his ex.  Sometimes at the end of one of their longer stays with him (which isn't *that* long - they're young and on a 2-5-5-2 schedule) they'll miss mom and have cried for her.  He used to get upset and feel bad about it, but then he found out that they sometimes did the same thing when they were at the end of a longer stay with BM, and cried for him.

Is his guilt because he divorced his ex-wife, or because he can't spend enough time with the skids, or does he just feel rejected?

Arorah77's picture

Yes, the 9 year old does sometimes cry for Daddy - but  my SO believes it’s not quite on the same scale. How he knows this, I have no idea. There’s no official divorce yet, they are just separated. He has the children every Thursday to put them to bed (he travels a long way to do this) and then every other weekend they come to our house. I move out, as we’re  being very careful in introducing me. Mum isn’t ready just yet. I think it could be a combination of all 3 things you mentioned there. It’s just hard to know the right thing to say. 

Thumper's picture

Hi and welcome to step talk.

MIssing her mom at age 9 is normal. Telling dad SHE never wants to see him again and mom supporting that and acting it out (not seeing dad)  IS not normal.

Maybe a few session with a child psychologist to work thru some feelings would be a consideration for his daughter.

As far as Dads guilt...depending on how he feels about marriage, yes he may feel guilt. Guilt should be felt when one has an action of immoral, illegal or ethical violation. Divorce in some circles is wrong but depending on the circumstance there are grounds for annulment in the church. Can he talk with his priest, rabbi or clergy?

Sometimes marriages dont last. Sometimes they should have never happened at all.  

As I am thinking about husband of nearly 20 years never felt guilt for ending his marriage to his ex. He couldnt wait and was relieved. 

Ask him 'why do you feel guilty?' How long have you felt this way,,,What do you think can be done to help you work thru this?

Good Luck

Arorah77's picture

I really appreciate you commenting on my post. Thank you. 

I think a session with child physchologist might actually be a great idea. I have a feeling Mum is finding pleasure in her child missing her and calling her up when it’s dads time. He only has them Thursday evenings and every other weekend. There’s a distance thing - it’s quite complicated. 

His guilt stems from falling out of love with his wife and causing the separation and consequently all these problems that are now arising. He just feels responsible. 


Thanks for taking the time for me xx

bananaseedo's picture

Let's be brutally honest- when adults divorce because they are unhappy-and not necessarily for something extremelly toxic or abusive-that is what happens-they sacrifice their kids happiness/stability and nuclear home for their hapiness.  I wish we stopped making excuses for it or justifying it.  You make a choice to split with young children, they WILL pay the price...but the other parent may or may not ever be happy.  Just is life.

I'm not sure there are ways to get over that guilt when you see the kids hurting.  Yes, I'm divorced, yes I believe there are reasons when people should part ways....'unhapiness' imo is not one of them. So call me the anti-divorce chick here.  There are too many consequences that come from divorce to the family unit and the kids...we take divorce too lightly and society shows it.   It will and can be a long adjustment for him and the kids.  All you can do is supporrt him, what's done is done now.   He can feel all the guilt in the world-the important thing is to not PARENT on guilt-THAT is where most make the biggest mistake of all, and the kids continue suffering negative consequences because of it (not to mention the poor stepmom that comes in the picture).


Arorah77's picture

So you believe if a couple are unhappy together, they should stay together for the kids?

I think my arguement would be, that unhappiness will grow and manifest. Bitterness, anger. I would not want to raise my children in an atmosphere where I resented my partner. I’d also want to teach them about happiness.

Thank you for your honesty though, and I’ll take everything on board. Especially the parenting through guilt thing. I don’t think this is an issue just yet, but we never know how our feelings might evolve and consequently, our behaviours. 

bananaseedo's picture


So you believe if a couple are unhappy together, they should stay together for the kids?"

Actually, yes, I do.

"I think my arguement would be, that unhappiness will grow and manifest. Bitterness, anger. I would not want to raise my children in an atmosphere where I resented my partner. I’d also want to teach them about happiness."

Sometimes, sometimes not-sometimes people just partner up until the kids are raised. One can live with unhappiness for some time....resentment can be controlled....NOW if it crosses lines to become clearly toxic/volatile/abusive then that's different....otherwise, I just disagree with your position.

Trust me, teach them about happiness....they won't be happier seeing mom/dad divorced and w/another person-it really doesn't work that way for MOST kids in divorced homes (again, unless the situation is toxic).

steppingback's picture

I agree some people take the vows too lightly. How hard did he work at getting back to being happy, exactly?But what's done is done.

His child is now unhappy and absolutely has the same exact right to her unhappiness as her dad. Only, she has no remedy for it. He needs to suck it up and endure it. But NOT let himself be guilty so she becomes spoiled by bad parenting.

Areyou's picture

Kids miss their parents. Don’t take that burden on. Kids will be fine. Brace yourself in case he leaves you when he becomes incredibly unhappy.