No, it’s not normal to neglect one’s children, but his behavior might be less about normalcy and more about his personality. He seems like someone who is avoidant and irresponsible.
What your father might not understand is that when he make plans and doesn’t follow through, most people would consider him irresponsible and untrustworthy. Eventually people will stop making plans with him. That’s the normal and natural response towards people who do not keep their word.
You shouldn’t feel bad about your wanting to distance yourself from your father. It’s the price he pays for behaving in this manner. Behavior has consequences and when his children decide to distance themselves from him then that’s the price he pays for his behavior. If he changed his behavior, then his children might not want to distance themselves from him and this would no longer be an issue. He has the ability to control his behavior. He has to be the one to decide to change his behavior. No one else can do it for him.
The most important thing to realize about people, in general, is that you can’t change them. You can only react to how they treat you. The first time someone makes plans and doesn’t keep them, well maybe they were sick. That’s a legitimate excuse and it’s understandable; people get sick. But when they repeat the same behavior over and over, their excuses are no longer legitimate or believable and you have to adjust accordingly. In this case, it would be correct to stop making plans with someone who has repeatedly failed to keep their promises. A good rule of thumb is to treat people how they treat you, no better and no worse. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle