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How to cope emotionally when your children want nothing to do with you.

How to cope emotionally when your children want nothing to do with youRejection is usually a difficult emotion to deal with for anyone. When it comes from your children, the pain can be unbearable. Depending on the circumstances in the family, such rejection can be all consuming for a father.

Keep a perspective can help in coping with rejection. The child’s attitude may not be forever. Also, there is usually a significant reason why they want to maintain a distance, at least from the child’s perspective, irrespective of what influences there are on the child. It helps to reflect on these reasons and if you can’t do it on your own without always becoming distressed or angry, then getting support from others, including professionals may be a helpful path. Regardless of any perceived injustice on you, your child will need your patience and respect, while maintaining an ‘open door’ policy to show them you are available, open minded and dependable.

Focus on your strengths as a father and make those strengths stronger. Look back over time and recall your achievements, recall the lessons you learnt from your father and mother, and what you have gained from other men and fathers you have known or read about. Improve who you want be as a dad. When the time comes for your child to want you back in, you’ll have even more to offer.

Fathers who pour energy into their mental, physical and emotional well being are also likely to be healthy men and fathers, who children will look up to and enjoy being with. The usual suspects apply, such as physical exercise, healthy eating, and keeping away from damaging drugs and alcohol abuse. Meditation can help in many ways, including increasing how well you tolerate stress, reduce your emotional reactivity, and increase your acceptance of changes beyond your control. Paying attention to your social network is also very important. Invest in new friendships and networks (clubs, groups, etc), and reinvest in old ones – it’s never too late.

There are also various support services available such as : self-help groups and telephone counselling services for men, as well as group programs which focus on fathers and separation. Check the links available on this website.

For some fathers, professional support may be necessary if implementing some of these suggestions is difficult or if extra specialist help is needed. If so, you may wish to have a look at .

By Dr Cherine Habib
Clinical Psychologist and Father.
Victorian Counselling and Psychological Services