Getting a divorce was probably one of the most difficult decisions you’ve ever had to make. Many couples believe it’s better for the kids to have two happy but separated parents than one unhappy unit. So a lot of women are confused when they divorce and expect Dad to give 100 percent and instead, he checks out of fatherhood. But there are reasons why fathers walk away after divorce.
It actually has a name: the ghost dad phenomenon. It’s hard to see your kids get hurt by a dad who walks away. Knowing why it happens will help you gain insight and empathy, or even start a path to growth and healing. Each situation is unique, but if you’re wondering how a dad who claims to love his children can just stop parenting, you’ll want to read these 5 common causes.
He’s struggling with sadness.
Most people (men and women) aren’t comfortable with sadness. We avoid it as much as possible. If every time he sees the kids he is reminded of his failure and burdened with the pain of having to let them go, he might think out of sight, out of mind is the best option. If he hurt you in the divorce, it might be hard to believe he is sad, but don’t write off the possibility.
He is angry.
Have you heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people?” When they don’t know how to process sadness, men often turn to anger instead. Think about the movie scenes of the teenage boy who gets broken up with and punches a hole in the wall. Anger makes them feel powerful while sadness makes them feel weak. If your ex is frustrated and angry at you or the situation, he’d rather just avoid the feeling altogether.
He feels like a loser.
I felt pretty pathetic when I went through my divorce. Some men see marriage as an achievement or a symbol of success. When it fails, they feel like they have failed. Every time he sees the kids or has to discuss time-sharing, he’s reminded that he couldn’t or wouldn’t make it work.
He has a new relationship.
A common theme for why fathers walk away after divorce: They are avoiding emotions. So, if he’s in a new relationship that makes him feel like less of a failure or less angry, he’s going to lean into it. Why can’t he enjoy the new relationship and be a good dad at the same time? Well, when the new love chemicals are flowing, we often make unwise decisions. And if the new woman is insecure, she might be making the situation more difficult.
He thinks he’s just a child support check.
Even though women work more than years ago, men are still seen as the main provider in a family. If before the divorce, that was his main role in the lives of the children, and you managed the rest of their day-to-day needs, he might not think he’s needed for anything other than financial support.
How are you dealing with your children’s relationship with their father?