Men and divorce raise issues unique and apart from women and divorce. Men have emotions, too, as it turns out. The male perspective can differ from the female perspective on issues across the board.
Men historically have felt that women are given a one up on them solely due to their gender. Men often struggle to find ways to not have divorce get in the way of their stellar parenting skills. Father’s great parenting skills can be apparent at all ages and stages of development of their children. From changing diapers to coaching sports teams to helping with homework and college selections, the path of divorce needs to ensure that fathers are able to co-parent and make decisions for the best interests of their children.
Do you recall the mess that Bill Cosby got into years ago when he challenged African American fathers that they needed to stand up and parent and stop making excuses because of past claims of discrimination? If not, google it, because it is a very valuable exercise.
One of the keys to get out of any such conversation is that biology alone does not confer rights unto a parent. If a parent, whether it is a father or mother, is not acting in a child’s best interests, whether it is due to rage, immaturity, criminal behavior, domestic violence, drugs, and especially mental health issues, then that parent needs to either “get it” or “get left out” of parenting responsibilities.
Dads, the most important issue for men and divorce that I see, day in and day out, is dads not being honest with themselves about who they are and what they stand for. Once you conduct a truly introspective study of who you are and what is important to you, you will be the best parent you can be.
So, let’s touch briefly on what that means about fathers and child custody. Let’s assume that fathers really are at a disadvantage in court when it comes to custody. The best way to combat that is not to wind up in Court!
A great percentage of all divorce and custody cases which are mediated result in joint legal custody and specific, detailed parenting plans between the parents regarding their children.
Conversely, a great percentage of all divorce and custody cases winding up at trial result in sole legal custody, and often, limiting and not well thought out visitation schedules.
There are always cases that need to go to trial. Some of my best success stories at trial are when I can convince a judge to dig a lot deeper and grant substantial “relationship time” to my client, when he is the father, where the mother maintains primary custody of the parties’ children.
It’s not about the schedule. It’s not just about the overnights. It’s not just about the money. It’s about raising your children. It’s about being involved. It’s about wanting your children to be with you.
Men, child custody is just a dress rehearsal for life. How you parent your kids when they are kids is a strong predictor of your relationship with them when they are grown up. What you teach them, directly or inferentially, is what they will teach their children.
You are parenting so that your children will become great spouses, parents and grandparents. Or, you can simply teach them, by following your lead, to parent dysfunctionally, which will lead them onto a therapist’s chair in their adult lives, instead of positively living their lives.
It all starts right now. And if your spouse is not on the same wavelength as you are in terms of parenting your children, then it is up to you to develop the plan to make it happen. There are many wives who become extremely suspicious when fathers want to assume a greater role with their children upon separation and divorce. You need to find a way to convince them that raising children is a life-long joy, not just a childhood challenge.