10 Things Divorced Dads Wish Their Exes Knew

divorce effects on children

In working with divorced families, I find that as soon as separation or divorce is in the equation, parents stop hearing each other very well. Parents don’t often try to understand the other side because other unresolved issues get in the way. The romantic relationship changes (too often) to a hostile, negative, competitive, and destructive process or sometimes a complete shut down where no communication happens at all. That’s when divorce effects on children can become even more severe.

So I asked many single fathers what they wish their children’s mother knew about them and about their motive in fathering. Some of their answers surprised me. I hope this might bring a small bit of insight to moms for the sole purpose of loving and raising their children into strong, stable young adults. Here are 10 things divorced dads wish their exes knew.

  1. That we bring something to our child’s life that only a father can bring.
  2. That when we are not with our child, we feel pain also, even if it looks like we don’t.
  3. That we don’t want to be Disney Dad, but if we have our child for only four days a month, discipline is not on top of our list of things to do.
  4. That I’m not the enemy, I wish we could co-parent in a civil way and I pray for her regularly.
  5. That the more you include me in my child’s life when I’m not around, the less time I spend trying to force myself into my child’s life.
  6. That I know your intentions are good to provide for our child, but what she really needs is for us to raise her in Christ and give more of our love rather than stuff.
  7. That I thank her every day for staying engaged with me to co-parent.
  8. That families change but the love can remain.
  9. That I’m trying to be less controlling of what goes on when I am not with my child.
  10. That I am trying to move on from the heartache of our separation in a healthy way.

I understand that real pain occurs when relationships end. I understand that real pain occurs inside of marriages and dream-filled families that turn into nightmares and war zones. I know the pain is real and I know the anger and hostility are often justified. These pain points must be acknowledged and processed in order to get to a healthier communication pattern that helps the children instead of hurting the children. I always recommend that parents seek other adults to have these hard conversations with, someone with a level head who can help navigate the pain so it does not spill out on the children.

If you missed these 10 Things Kids of Divorce Wish They Could Say To Their Parents, please take a look.


What can you do to give your children freedom to love their father, not because you like him but because you love your kids?


  • Kerry

    I truly appreciate reading the thoughts and feelings from the fathers perspective. When I hear or read their thoughts it helps me to have a better understanding of their feelings. While I believe there are many fathers whom truly feel this way, there are the ones that no matter what a mom does to include the father in their child’s life, finds a way to destroy all efforts. Controlling and manipulative games are played in front of the children and behind the closed doors.
    I have personally turned to this website on numerous occasions for guidance and support. I repeat to myself, ” I can only control the choices and actions I make”. ” Two wrongs do not make a right!” “The ultimate goal is continuing the relationship between our children and their parents in a Christian like.” My children are the only ones who suffer when they “feel” their parents or just one parent dislike the other. Our children sense everything. My son has said to his dad, ” I feel how you dislike mom, I see your actions , you don’t have to say it dad with words because you act it!” That was so powerful and sad to hear my son say to his dad.
    What that father said above in number 1 is absolutely true in what they give their children. Their role is like no other and my children NEED their father. What does a parent do when that father is pushing their own children away?

    • Darva Fellenberg

      I feel your pain. My children are all young adults now. 26,23,19 girls 18 boy. Their dad was never consintly in their life. I have tried everything! And now they do not have much to do with him…especially my son. He never grew up with a positive male roll model. 🙁

  • Jenny Marie

    This article assumes the father has any spiritual input and desire. This is far far far from the actual reality of many fathers who leave the marriage {for another woman} and have no religious input or affiliation with spiritual things especially when there’s sociopathic or narcissistic behaviour from the ex spouse. While i understand your articles are written from a Christian perspective they are a little biased when it comes to behaviors and opinions such as the article above.