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Your ex husband is late for his visitation pick up. This is not the first time and you are getting tired of the disrespect and negligence. Besides, you have has things to do and your two children are getting uncomfortable.

In this scene, you have had it, and need to say something.

Here is the wrong way:

Mom: “He did it to me in the marriage and now he is doing it to you. Your father only thinks about himself.”

This is the right way:

Mom: “Dad appears to be running late.”

Child: “Again?”

Mom: “Some people run late. I am sure he will get here OK.”

Child: “But it bothers me.”

Mom: “You may want to let your dad know how you feel.”

It’s easy to understand why a mother might be outraged: her tardy ex- husband is doing it again, but this time he’s doing it not just to her, but to the kids as well.

She is angry that she has to continue to deal with her ex-husband’s apparent lack of respect and she identifies with her kids, feeling that they are being hurt.

This is a case where over identification is very easy to do. The mother can project her own feelings on the kids. In a misguided attempt to protect them she may make the error of not allowing the kids to have their own relationship with their father.

When she responds incorrectly, she is responding out of her own hurt and anger, imposed it now on them.

The kids in turn are then forced to take sides.

But is it possible their dad’s lateness is not really a big deal for them? Maybe they already accept their father for his many flaws, but enjoy him nevertheless?

It may be too much for them to identify with their mother’s outrage.

But when the mother has a sense of perspective and feels well centered, she can acknowledge his lateness in a factual and neutral way: “Some people run late.”

This gives her the opening to inquire just how his tardiness truly affects her kids.

She can then suggest they share their feelings with their dad at some point.

She can also, when she has cooled down, and definitely not in front of the children, bring up the problem of tardiness with the children’s father. He may not have had a chance to reflect on his behavior, and understand he might be hurting his kids’ feelings.

Sometimes, these quiet and persistent interventions work. After all, he has to look at himself in the mirror every morning. On the other hand, some people are just habitually late.

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6 comments

  • Comment Link Graziela Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:21 posted by Graziela

    Ok, some people are usually late. I understand the traffic, something happened. I can empathise with 10/15 min. But my ex is making 2:30 a habit. And no explanation. No text to say, i am late. Phone off. No apologies. It is disturbing my life and the children's life more than is helping. What can i do? I stopped making excuses for the kids and just tell them the truth now. That they dad doesn't give a dam about it. Specially when he sees them 2 days/evenings a month!

  • Comment Link Me Sunday, 18 December 2016 23:12 posted by Me

    If this "expert" knew anything, he'd clearly recognize this as the father absung the mother by exercising control over her and completely disrupting her schedule. I have been waiting for seven hours for my late ex. My entire day and all my plans are ruined. HE is the one who needs to explain his slimeball actions.

  • Comment Link melissa Monday, 05 October 2015 15:39 posted by melissa

    Hahahaha! "Some people are just habitually late." So moms need to just accept that they will have to wait around for however long and soothe their anxious kids while dad gets to just do what's convenient for him? Of course you shouldn't talk trash to your kids about their father and of course the feelings of the kids are priority. But I love how there is NO MENTION of the inconvenience to the mother and whatever she may have planned for the day. The message is "Mom's need to be prepared to sacrifice everything while dad's can decide for themselves if they will demonstrate even common courtesy." Thanks for your help.

  • Comment Link KC Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:35 posted by KC

    wow...you are so wrong on this in so many levels and obviously have not been in this situation nor do you have children!! I was told by our divorce attorney and through mediation that his tardiness is not to be used as another way to be controlling! why should my fiancé and I wait 2 extra hours for him when he only has to take our 3 kids every other weekend!? Aren't we allowed to make plans!? I love my children and am an awesome mom who takes them to all school functions..and cares for them and properly guides them when they are getting off track. Women should not bow down and pit their lives on hold because they ex continues to be tardy constantly....I clicked on this looking for help with this situation and now I am even more disgusted!

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 05 August 2012 22:45 posted by Guest

    Dr. Banschick, I disagree with your post. It smacks a little bit of the message that women are often given --- stay quiet, don't rock the boat, don't be a bitch, don't be "outraged" by a person who treats you badly ... especially if he's the father of your children.

    I agree with Shea. Honesty is best, even when it's uncomfortable. A dad's tardiness at pick up or drop off without a phone call or notice is covertly/overtly disrespectful to the mother, irrespective of the relationship the kids are building with their dad. It is OK for the mom to speak up and display some self-respect in front of the kids. In fact, I think it's better for the kids.

    If I hire a contractor to come do work on my home and he's 3 hours late and doesn't call, He's going to know how I feel. If one of my girlfriends was supposed to meet me for lunch and didn't show for 3 hours, I'd certainly let her know. Why would it be any different with the father of my children?

    Dr. Banschick, your suggestion that a woman can, after she's "cooled down" have a reasonable conversation with a person who displays unreasonable behavior is not going to work for a majority of the ladies who are on this website. I think we'll just keep speaking the truth.

  • Comment Link Shea Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:54 posted by Shea

    This is what the experts will: This is what the experts will say but I have now learned to throw the "experts" out the window! I tried this when my ex walked out. I found myself still being his "wife" and making excuses for and defending the ex and his behavior. This came to a complete stop when my son turned to me and told me to stop. We fought and I realized my son was scared because he was now losing repect for me on top of losing his father. I found out as much as it may hurt honesty is still the best policy. From that time on I have been honest with my children about everything. I explained what they can expect from their father and he has not disapointed. Everything I said was going to happen has happened complete with his remarriage without even telling his kids. I could go on...... If we want our children to be strong and trusting of others we need to teach them to question anothers actions toward us even when it is a parent.