I Cry Every Time My Dad Breaks a Promise

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a 12 year old: my dad and my mom are seperated i barely see my dad but sometimes he will call me and promise he will take me somewhere or get me that gift i wanted or something like that but more and more lately my dad has been breaking promises and i can’t help but to cry he has broken to many and i am tired of crying but i always do i expect it now but i always do i don’t want to cry over him anymore i need to know ways to help me stop crying over him

A: Of course you cry. Your parents may have very good reasons for separating but your relationship with each of them is different than their relationship with each other. When a dad acts like this, it is sometimes because seeing his kid is really, really painful. You are a reminder of the family he is losing. Even if he deserved to lose it (if he was cheating or if he wasn’t a good enough husband), he may be embarrassed and angry that he couldn’t be a better man. If he didn’t deserve to lose it (like if he was the person betrayed), then not being able to be with you every day is especially painful. Sadly, men often shut down their feelings and stay away when they feel emotional. They lose contact with their kids and try to make it okay with themselves. It’s a sad solution all around. You lose a dad. He loses a great kid who loves him.

Why don’t you write a letter to your dad? A letter may be easier for him to handle than an emotional talk. Explain to him that you really love him and need him in your life. Let him know that whatever is going on with him and your mom is their business. Reassure him that you aren’t interested in taking sides. You just want your dad. And do tell him how much broken promises hurt. Suggest a regular time for the two of you to get together — like dinner and homework help on Wednesday nights or breakfast and time together on Saturday mornings. When there is a regular time, every visit doesn’t have to be talked about and debated. It’s just part of the week. Don’t try to make him feel guilty for how he’s been acting. Instead, focus on how important he is to you.

It’s not fair but sometimes the kids have to act more grown up than the grownups. If you can take the lead on making a more regular time with him, your dad may be able to see that he needs to be a dad and put your feelings ahead of his own.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). I Cry Every Time My Dad Breaks a Promise. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/03/i-cry-every-time-my-dad-breaks-a-promise/

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