The Misunderstood Divorced Dad

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Editing is always an experience of discovery in terms of the frustrations that are universal for divorcing fathers. It is a community of men who come together to deal with probably the most life-changing and difficult elements of their lives: Divorce from their wives and the drastic changes that ensue.

Having grown up in a family that went through divorce I thought I understood what divorce was all about.  But after joining this group of men who gather to exchange thoughts, support, complaints, and suggestions, I have learned that the divorced or divorcing father is one of the most misunderstood creatures ever to walk the Earth.

For reasons that must have something to do with our society’s ideas of what a man must be and can be, fathers, and in this particular case, fathers divorcing from their wives, seem to display surprising sensitivity and vulnerability that only seems to come out when you get a group of these men talking privately.

Below are just a few of the myths, some of which I believed as a child of divorce, often attached to divorcing Dads.

It was all Dad’s idea; he must have wanted out.

According to most reputable statistics men don’t ask for or even expect to be served with divorce. It is a common mistake for our culture to assume that men want to be free of family obligations when in fact most men want to be there to support, love and guide their children and remain a part of their home.

Dad left us.

Although a divorce is a contractual split between a husband and wife, the children are forced to be unwilling participants in this split. From a kid’s perspective, the important thing to recognize is that if the father doesn’t receive a larger share of child custody it isn’t because he wants to rid himself of his family.  Our society is experiencing a shift in understandings of which parent makes for a more secure atmosphere for the children. At one time children were assumed to be better off with the father. Most men who make up the Fathers Rights movement want to start the court’s child custody decision-making with the presumption that a 50/50 parenting schedule would be most fair.

We don’t need dad.

I remember, as a pre-teen boy, consoling my little sister when we discovered that our parents would be divorcing and that dad would be moving out. I actually told her that I thought things would be better without him.  “No more arguing,” I explained. I was trying to reassure her, but now I also realize that I was simply thinking of the freedom that I was about to experience without my father (who was the disciplinarian) in the house. As they say, when the cat is away the mice will play.  Statistics show that children raised without a father in the house are several times more likely to be abused and get into other kinds of trouble. Imagine how it feels to fathers who are forced to accept less involved roles with their children and who realize that their children are now going to be exposed to these increased risks.

Dad is a deadbeat.

It is a sad fact that this misnomer “The Deadbeat Dad” has become a part of our national lexicon. There is an entire school of research devoted to looking into the effects of the trend of court judgments in terms of what are often crippling alimony and child support judgments against men in return for the additional emotional penalty of having contact with your precious children denied or greatly reduced.

It’s difficult to know what dads real attitudes about family and divorce are without going directly to them to find out. The commonly held myths of what dads really want when it comes to their children run contrary to common sense. Of course fathers love their children and want them to be safe. They still want them to be all those things that they imagined long before life became so crummy and complicated. But right now most of all they want a phone call from you.

To find out more about what dads think about divorce and to see them fighting for the rights to be with their children go to

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No Responses to “The Misunderstood Divorced Dad”

  1. Rosalind Sedacca
    November 9, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    I believe it’s important for Moms to be able to understand divorce from a Dad’s perspective in order to make the best decisions on behalf of their children. So thank you for this valuable article.

    I also believe Dads must do the same. Parenting children after divorce should not be a gender battle. It’s a parenting issue that must be explored by both parents as well as an objective third party (counselor, coach, parenting coordinator, etc.) to determine what truly is in the best interest of each child and each family.

    My purpose is to save innocent children from needless hurt, turmoil and pain resulting from parental actions that are not clearly thought-through. Let’s make smart decisions for our children because we love them — not because we want to “win” them, exploit them or dominate them for our own purposes.

    Free ezine, articles, advice and resources are at

    Rosalind Sedacca
    The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce

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