Relationships of all kinds can be tricky. But a relationship is between two people. Any kind of relationship is between just two people. Yes, you can have a group of friends. And yes, you can live in a family with more than two people. But each relationship is one person plus one person, sharing their hearts, giving and taking, when working well, in equal parts.
My job is to take care of my relationships with the people in my life.
It is not my job to help scootch along anyone else’s relationship with someone other than me.
If someone wants a relationship with my children, I will not be the setter-upper. I will not be the driver, if that person can’t drive. I will not be the middle man.
I get questions all the time from readers wanting to know things like, “How can I get my ex-husband and adult son [i.e. father and son] to communicate?”
Umm, you can’t. They’re both grown-ups. You can’t get them to do anything they don’t want to do.
And secondly, you shouldn’t. For the same reason: they’re both grown-ups. And if they want a relationship, they should both be initiating and trying to build or rebuild their relationship. (But in my opinion, one person can only do so much; if the other never responds to the initiating, that is not the fault of the initiator.)
Relationship triangles are a bit like being too attached. When we detach from someone – with love, which is key – we allow them to experience their own victories and live with their own defeats and consequences. Just like when we allow two people to have the relationship they’re going to have – without interfering – they can enjoy the closeness that they build together or transversely, they can feel the pain of not being in a relationship with someone they care about because of their poor choices.
If you are an adult, you are responsible for your own relationships.
If your husband or ex-husband is an adult – which I’m assuming he is – he is responsible for all of his own relationships, including the relationships he does or does not foster with his children.
If your children are adults, they are responsible for all of their own relationships, including their relationship with you and with their father.
You are not responsible for your husband or ex-husband’s relationships. Any of them. Even with your shared children. And, as hard as it may seem, you are not responsible for your children’s relationships.
You are only responsible for your own relationships.
So I want to gently encourage you to stop texting or emailing your ex- bugging him to do something with the kids. Is it a shame for your children to not have a relationship with their father? Of course it is. And you should pray for their healing and their strength and for other adults to come into their lives to fill the gaps (God will provide this, I promise you). But let your ex- live with the pain so that maybe he will make the changes he actually needs to become more whole and to become the man and father God wants him to be for your kids. Or maybe your ex-husband is trying to reach out, but your adult child is not responding. This is not your business. This is between the two of them. If you keep intervening, they may never learn the lessons they need to learn on their own.
So take a deep breath (or a hundred) and step back and let them live their own lives and develop their own relationships.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. –Romans 12:18
If this post resonated with you, Moving On as a Single Christian Mom will benefit you as well.