Monday, February 10, 2014
Divorce Is Hard On Dads
Divorce is hard on dads as well as moms. Moms get all the publicity and dads get lots of bad press. I suspect it’s not hard on the bad dads; the ones that leave town, the ones that left long ago but now make it official by moving geographically away. For those dads--- the illicit affair dads, the fisticuff beating dads and dead beat dads of all sorts divorce maybe isn’t so bad. It’s really tough on the good dads though.
I don’t have any statistics. I’ve heard some stories. I know some good dads whose marriages crashed and burned. Not perfect dads or wonderful husbands but dads that tried to stay in the trenches and be dad. I have my story too.
Not getting the kiss goodnight—every night. That was the most difficult part initially. Not hearing the day to day stories and missing out on the soft, quiet, big tuck-in and kisses was a killer. Sometimes the tuck-ins weren’t soft and quiet but came with wrestles and laughter, maybe even body noises and goofy eyed joking around. The good dads lose out on that because moms generally end up getting most the kid time.
Societal norms imply that mom is always the good guy. That’s not always true. This too is hard for the trying-to-be-good dad. Sometimes the mom wields her state given power against the good dad. It cuts both ways. The mom or the dad can use words and time to stack the deck against the other parent. That’s especially difficult for the good dad.
Truth is the dad may have made some serious mistakes while in the marriage. He may have abused alcohol. There may have been some sex outside the marriage bed. None of us is immune to our own unique brand of brokenness. Standing for your kids after such failure is tough. It’s hard for the good dads.
For those marriages where there is joint custody it hurts to see your children live like transients as they move from one home to another. Tough too to see them coming to grips with the brokenness of parents, tougher too if mom manifests bad behaviour that bruises your kids heart and feelings.
Still the good dads hang in there and keep at it. We keep affirming and proclaiming our love. We demonstrate commitment by being in the game, by midnight trips to Walmart for school supplies and dropping by after-school assemblies after an eight hour work day and two hour commute. The good dads invest in their kids. The good dads do all they can to let their kids know they are there for them. We don’t get all the press and publicity but divorce is hard on dads too.