Man Up! Fathers Who Divorce :)
Fathers are so important in a child’s life. I don’t care if you are a married Dad, stay-at-home Dad, divorced Dad who sees his kids every day, every week, every other weekend or whatever. You, as a father, are critical to your child’s well-being and development in life.
Life forever shows us opportunities to learn and grow. My husband and I have entered one of these phases recently as his ex-wife lost her job and now attempts to create confusion for my husband.
When he first divorced his ex-wife, my husband will admit that all he wanted to do was avoid conflict. How many divorced Dads can relate? He wanted to keep his ex- happy as he feared she had some power to take his children away from him. I, of course, am not a divorced Dad, but I have witnessed this fear motivate many men to compromise and agree to things they normally would not have.
Since that time, I have seen my husband grow as a man and, importantly, as a father. He now has his kids half-time (his ex-wife moved in across the street from us, lucky us). He has been divorced for 8 years, and it is only now that I believe he is finally grasping that he does not need to take care of, relate to, respond to, or in any way engage with issues that are solely his ex-wife’s.
When something involves the children, he is there for them, but in relation to her, he has moved on. This has taken a very long-time and it is something she has not wanted to let go. She has always wanted his attention and his “good side”. She did not want his “good side” enough to remain married to him, but in her mind, that is beside the point.
I have loved seeing my husband gain in strength and awareness in relation to his own role as a father. It saddens me it has taken him so long, but I don’t think his path is an unusual one for men who divorce and who have children.
I remember my husband being worried to discipline the children, afraid they would not love him anymore. I once read something that should alleviate a good portion of parenting fears. Guess what? The secret is this- most kids are ambivalent about their parents’ behaviors and this is a good thing! Your kids will like some things you do, and they will not like some other things. This is natural! Don’t let anyone, including your ex-wife, try to tell you otherwise. Don’t let anyone distort who you are as a parent and your parental instincts.
Your children will not always “like” you as a parent. It’s not even healthy for them to do so. But what is essential for your children is to have a true, solid, engaging relationship with you- no matter what form that takes logistically. The best thing you can do for a child is simply be present in heart and spirit. Your role as Dad is invaluable. Believe it and act upon it! *
(* I realize this is a different type of posting for me. It’s just recently come to my attention, given our own child custody situation, how much Dad’s go through with divorce and chidren. So, I thought I would put out a little goodwill )