Dear Ask Ashlee,
I am a single mother of two children whose father recently passed away. My children are in so much pain over the loss of their father. I am trying my best to be there for them and keep their spirits lifted, but I have so much hate in my heart toward the man, I honestly don’t know whether I am helping them or making the situation worse. They want to hear stories of how we met, when or how we fell in love and how much of a great guy he was… and the reality is, he wasn’t a great guy at all. We weren’t in love at all; it was just a hookup kind of situation. He was a jerk and didn’t help me take care of them at all. He was around and he was present, undermining everything I set for them and criticizing my every move as a mother. He also didn’t provide any financial assistance and I have struggled providing for them for years on my own. I’m sure I sound like the typical, angry, single mother, but I do want to help my children grieve their father in a healthy manner. Any suggestions?
So here’s the thing. Death is hard for anyone to process especially when it is a loved one. I don’t know the age of your children, but losing a parent has to be as difficult as one can imagine and more. Instead of you creating false memories for your children to cling onto, allow reverse psychology to work in your favor. Create a special moment with your children and allow them to share their favorite memories of their dad with you. You can take them to dinner, take them out for a picnic or find pictures of them with their dad and create a collage for them as a family project. He is gone and what you don’t want to do is create a bitter moment for them to hold onto because you couldn’t put your personal feelings aside for their benefit. I’m not saying you have to pretend like nothing ever happened, but you can focus your energy on their happy moments instead of your negative ones.
I strongly encourage you to get them into counseling as well. You’re their mother, they love you and I promise you if you have experienced a lot of pain and negativity when dealing with their dad, they will more than likely remember it as well. Therapy and counseling will help them cope with their feelings of loss and any stained memories they may have of him. If you find yourself not able to let go of the negative feelings you have toward him, I would suggest therapy for you as well. Be honest, what could it hurt?
I hope this helps!
Love & Light,