How do I forgive him for hurting our kids?

After my divorce, I went through an awful lot to "let go with love." So I know how to make choices that will help me move on to happier and healthier days, but I don't know what to do when the man who fathered my children (a two-year-old and a 16-month-old) puts their needs behind his. My fears and hurt do not come from what's happening to me, but to them. That hurt won't stop. It has actually gotten worse over the past few months, and I'm afraid that when they get older there will be more ways that he can hurt them. If he doesn't want to be a healthy part of their lives and responsible for their mental, emotional, physical and monetary well-being, then I'd rather he take a hike! My question is what can I do to move past this type of anger? Is there any way to make him understand? --iVillager caer1

Best-selling author Debbie Ford led the four-week Surviving Divorce Love Lesson. Do your assignments, plus get advice about divorce from other women like you on the related message board.

Dear caer1,

I can hear in your words the anger and frustration you are feeling toward your ex. When we are in pain, it's natural to point our fingers at others. I understand your fear that your children will suffer because of your ex-husband's shortcomings.

I know this might be hard to hear right now, but I want to suggest that to the extent you point out your ex-husband's inadequacies and make him wrong, you will only add to your children's unhappiness. The questions you must ask yourself are, "How can I have an extraordinary life, even if my ex doesn't make our children a priority? What could I provide for my children that will support them in feeling secure, happy and cared for?"

I have met thousands of mothers who complained that their ex-husbands were lousy fathers -- especially in the early years of their kids' lives -- only to be surprised later on when they showed up as caring, attentive dads.

The sad truth is that you have no power to influence the behavior of your ex. The more you focus on where he is falling short, the angrier you will become and the more you will rob yourself of peace and fulfillment. The only alternative is to put your attention on loving yourself and making your life with your children great, regardless of what your ex does or does not do.

In life there are hurdles for each of us. The question is not how can we get rid of the hurdles, but how can we use them to make us stronger, wiser and more compassionate. Even though it's natural to want to get back at him -- don't. The stronger and more loving you become, the more you will see your relationships transform. As you look for the blessings in your situation, you will begin to feel better about yourself. And when you are thriving, your children will thrive as well.

With love and blessings,

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