A couple of weeks ago Thomas Matlack wrote on the New York Times’ Motherlode blog about how hitting rock bottom and losing his marriage made him stop drinking and be a better dad.
I’ve seen many times how divorce has made men better fathers – including in my own family. One of this blog’s commenters named Kirsten wrote that limiting the time her ex spends with their kids makes him appreciate them much more than when he lived with them full-time:
I saved my ex-husband’s relationship with his kids by getting his angry self out of here. He couldn’t handle being selfless everyday but he can do a decent job every other weekend. While I want nothing to do with him, my kids now have a dad who is happy to see them and he’s not yelling and screaming and scaring the crap out of them.
Again, a rather extreme example. Mine is also extreme – my husband and I separated while he was recovering from a brain injury, and he was in no state to be a co-parent. But gradually, thanks to the structure that a visitation schedule provided, he has become a more reliable presence in our kids’ lives.
But more than these tragedies, I’ve heard from everyday guys going through garden-variety divorces who thrive in their new, part-time parenting schedules. Several report that their ex-wives dominated domestic decisions and habits, and the men consciously or unconsciously acquiesced to her way of parenting while married. Now, left to their own devices, they’ve flourished in their new roles as independent parents. (Hear that ladies? Control freaks make men bad dads!)
Other stories are simply about men no longer taking for granted their time with their children and role as fathers. Some so cherish their visits that they find themselves more present and focused during those hours, when compared with when they lived full-time in the same home as their kids. Other dads struggle with guilt over not being around as much, worried their kids will one day have memories of the “weekend dad” — and do all they can to be involved and available.
I was recently chatting with a colleague contemplating divorce, and he said, “I owe it to my 3-year-old daughter to make it work.” That is certainly a noble and common notion, but I challenged him. A loveless marriage is no gift to any child. And there are so many examples of parents of both genders finding their groove after divorce — to the betterment of everyone involved.
- The benefits of dating single dads (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- The Divorced Parents Dilemma: Today’s Diva Dish ” Wedding Style, Planning & Inspiration | the Wedding Paper Divas Blog (weddingpaperdivas.com)
- A tribute to my ex-husband’s hairy back – and to my kids (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- Happy Birthday. Here’s What I Want (therighthandmom.com)
- Two Sides of the Same Face (hastywords.wordpress.com)
- First Drive: 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible V-6 (motortrend.com)
- The Father I Never Knew I Could Be (recentlyseparatedwhatisnext.wordpress.com)
- Divorce often pushes fathers away from kids (syracuse.com)
- Happily Ever After the Divorce…. (lipssealedsoulspeaks.com)
- Helping Kids Cope With Divorce (drlauraberman.com)
- Even Adult Children Find Divorce Devastating (sincemydivorce.com)