Q: How can I reconnect with my children after divorcing their mother and abandoning them? I regret to say that I walked out on my family several years ago. Since then, I've recognized my mistakes and changed my life (including coming to faith). I'd like to get back in touch with my kids, but they want nothing to do with me. Can you help?
Jim: It's great to hear that you've put your life on a new footing; I encourage you to keep moving in that direction. At the same time -- and as harsh as this sounds -- there's a reason your kids don't want anything to do with you. You abandoned them. We all "reap what we sow," which means dealing with the fallout of our own irresponsibility and selfishness.
You need to be realistic and proceed with caution. Your interest in re-establishing a relationship with your children is understandable and commendable. But you're going to have to earn the right to make that dream come true. This will require patience, humility and a lot of time.
Before doing anything else, you should ask yourself some tough questions: What exactly is behind your desire to reconnect with your children? Do you really have their best interests at heart? Or are you simply trying to get rid of your own feelings of guilt?
Your kids need time and space to reconnect with you. If you sincerely want what's best for them, you should make sure they get it. Let them move toward you at their own pace, which may be cautious and slow. Don't expect to start with personal visits or phone conversations. It would be much better to apologize and ask their forgiveness through letters or email.
Let them know that you understand how much pain and anger they're feeling. Tell them that you will respect their wishes regarding reconciliation. If and when they decide that they're ready to get together with you, you'd be wise to arrange a meeting with the help of an experienced family therapist. Focus on the Family's Counseling Department can refer you to a licensed professional in your area; call 800-232-6459.
Q: My marriage is in a rut. I do the same things for my wife over and over, like flowers on Valentine's Day, more out of obligation than anything else. How can I change my mindset?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Most of us have many things we do every day out of obligation, and relatively few that are defined by passion. Obviously, as adults, we perform a variety of daily tasks because some things simply have to get done. But our responsibilities too often overshadow our deeper passions. And that's where problems can begin. Duty and obligation are like bread and water -- they allow us to survive, but that's it. In order to really thrive, we need passion.
So it goes with marriage. We marry for love, romance and dreams. But the practical demands of life often overtake us. Before long, intimacy is replaced by busyness, and the passion we once knew can get lost to the duty of jobs and laundry and the paying of bills.
The good news? Passion can be restored to your marriage. It can be as simple as spending a few minutes sitting on the couch and talking with your wife about the events of the day. Or holding hands on a walk together. Discover (or rediscover) your respective "love languages" and adjust your interaction accordingly. Find ways to connect with your wife's heart and watch her, and your marriage, come alive with passion. For tips and ideas, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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