How many of you have seen a divorced parent and immediately proceeded to create an opinion about them based solely on the fact that you knew they were divorced. Maybe you went so far as to make assumptions about why they were divorced or how they messed things up.
Well, being divorced isn’t unlike being a parent. Unless you’ve experienced it, you simply have no clue of any aspect of it. None. It is not uncommon for those without kids to be quick to let us know how to raise our children or point out what we’re doing wrong. They’ve read all of the articles and seem to know what’s best for our kids and what they “need.” With divorce it’s probably not quite as harsh, but everyone is quick to let us know how we should handle our ex, what’s best for our kids, why we should do this or not do that etc. They tell us how much better off we are, that we need to get back on the saddle and that they wish they had our freedom.
But unless you’ve lived it and ARE living it, you have … no … idea. It can be a constant battle to stay positive; to hold your tongue; to be supportive; to put the kids first; to not over react; to not be resentful; to not blame; to not crash and burn. It can take all of your energy and then some. And unless you’re in the trenches immersed in the negative thoughts that are continually fighting their way through the positives, it’s impossible to truly understand what a unique experience it is and how challenging it can be.
If you see someone who’s divorced, man or woman, know that they’re doing their best with the hand they’ve been dealt; even if they were the one who dealt it in the first place. Chances are they themselves had no idea what they were getting into or what it would be like despite their best intentions. Regardless, divorced people have experienced a pain like no other. Some self inflicted and some completely undeserved. It is not an easy road. And all you can do is keep moving. For to stop is death. If you don’t keep your mind busy, it will sink into a muck of self torture. If you don’t keep your body busy, it will not only cause your muscles to fail you, but your mind as well.
If you see a divorced dad, and you see him loving his kids, getting groceries, coaching a basketball game, or even just sitting having a cup of coffee; take a moment to recognize that he is changing the definition of a dad. He is involved. He is trying and quite possibly even more involved now as a divorced dad than he was as a married one. Believe it or not, dads can multi-task, cook, clean, dress their kids and coddle them when they’re sick. We can organize a birthday party and get them where they need to be on time. We check home work and actually want to be on the school’s e-mail list. But for some reason, too often, assumptions are made and divorced dads are seen as the weekend babysitter. As someone with 50/50 custody I can assure you that’s not always the case any more. The landscape is changing.
So whatever you do, don’t judge him. I promise you, divorced parents are pretty good at doing plenty of that to themselves; virtually all day. I get it. Not all dads, divorced or otherwise are gems. But we don’t all personify the stereotype of the cheating deadbeat. We hate that we ended up here and work hard not to focus on the fact that this isn’t what we planned. There are plenty of aspects about divorce that we disdain. But they come with the territory and all you can do is carry on and attempt to do better.
So please. If you have a friend who’s a divorced parent; know that there’s a lot going on under the surface. Probably not unlike your own life, but a lot more intense as there’s likely an additional layer of guilt spread over it. But aside from the occasional jerk, which let’s face it exist both in divorce and marriage, there are more and more divorced dads doing the best they can and they’re doing everything in their power to make it better for themselves and their children. There are indeed a growing number of them who are stepping up their game and doing their part to change the way single dads are viewed.