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 unresolved issues get in the way. A once-romantic relationship changes (too often) to hostile, competitive, and destructive. No communication happens at all. That’s when divorce’s effects on children can become even more severe.
As soon as separation or divorce is in the equation, parents stop hearing each other very well.
So I asked many single fathers what they wish their children’s mother knew. Some of their answers surprised me.
Here are 10 things divorced dads wish their exes knew.
- That we bring something to our child’s life that only a father can bring.
- That when we are not with our child, we feel pain, even if it looks like we don’t.
- That we don’t want to be Disney Dad, but if we only have our child for four days a month, discipline is not on top of our list of things to do.
- That I’m not the enemy, that I wish we could co-parent in a civil way, and that I pray for her regularly.
- 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.
- 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 her more love than stuff.
- That I’m thankful every day that she stays engaged with me to co-parent.
- That families change but love can remain.
- That I’m trying to be less controlling of what goes on when I am not with my child.
- 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. Dream-filled families suddenly 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 hurts the children. I always recommend that parents seek other adults to have these hard conversations with. They should find 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 the freedom to love their father, not because you like him but because you love your kids?
Tammy Daughtry, MMFT is an author of the book, Co-parenting Works! Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce as well as the creator of the DVD, One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future.