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How We View The Divorced Parent

26 Feb

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 be599800_10152015305377908_614640456_n 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.

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12 Comments

Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Divorce

 

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12 responses to “How We View The Divorced Parent

  1. Nephila

    February 26, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I don’t judge people for being divorced, but I wish as a victim of infidelity those of us who stayed were not judged! We are not doormats and our road is harder in many ways than if we had left.

    While I don’t judge which camp a divorced person is in, I do think if you date a divorced person you should get corroboration about why they were divorced. Because if you were a cheat you wouldn’t admit it, you’d present the other person as at fault or play “good guy” by saying it was both of you at fault. Liars lie so until you know they aren’t one I think caution is wise.

    And that’s not gendered. The woman my husband had an affair with presented herself as single/separated. She wasn’t. And he was idiotically gullible to believe her as well as stupid to cheat.

     
    • billfilipiak

      February 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Perhaps the worst part about divorce is that in every instance there is reason for the hurt. The pain that each of us experienced may be for different reasons. But in every instance we were either let down by someone, mislead, or we ourselves didn’t live up to the expectation. Regardless we’re left with more questions than answers and a lot of pain we carry with us for the rest of our lives. There’s no happy beginning in divorce. Thank you for sharing your story.

       
      • Nephila

        February 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

        Oh I agree with that but there is a huge difference between just having incompatible personalities and the neglected feelings that go with that and actually being gaslighted, lied to and cheated on. Thats up there with being hit and that is also a deeper injury. So there’s reasons and reasons. If one dealt the cards then no, I don’t think there is real hurt because there was choice and control. I have no sympathy for cheats.

         
  2. billfilipiak

    February 26, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I honestly can’t relate to the infidelity thing. And will not attempt to try. I would hope on some level though, that a person who cheats and has to look his or her children in the eye, on some level feels at least a percentage of the hurt and pain they’ve caused. That once it’s too late, they recognize that their choice was short sighted and that they didn’t appreciate what they had when they had the chance. I believe on some level there’s is a scar unlike any other.

     
  3. Lori

    February 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Amen, brotha. Amen.

     
  4. Pat Rooney

    February 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Bill, because of your insights, I am better at understanding what our son is living as a divorced dad. Thanks for writing!

     
  5. Ralph Kelly

    March 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Great information here. As a society, we already judge people enough for the smallest things and should strive to put ourselves in that other person’s shoes. It’s not our position in life to judge people anyway. We just need to love people especially those going through difficult times.

     
  6. Gabe

    March 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Amen!

     
  7. Arron

    April 6, 2015 at 9:53 am

    As a divorced single father I can honestly say, it definitely is a tough road but you have to stay positive and do your best.

     
  8. Nick

    May 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for this article – it made me feel someone finally has put into words how I feel daily as a divorced dad who would do anything for his kids. Not all dads abandon their children or fail to try and save their marriage.

     
    • Jennifer

      April 6, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Thanks for posting this blog. I have a friend who just finalized his divorce and he hasn’t wanted to talk about it much. While I check on him, he says he will call soon but I have not heard from him. I often wonder if he is overwhelmed and I wish I could provide support. I learn a lot from these articles to understand what he is going through.

       
  9. Larry

    September 28, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you for articulating how I have been feeling these last couple of years. It has been a daily struggle to not be resentful or angry. Showing your kids that you are strong and staying positive is crucial. They should not have to carry the emotional burden of my divorce.They are happy when you are happy (even if you have to fake it sometimes). It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

     

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