Why Men Leave Their Children

Often, we hear of divorced dads that spend little or no time with their children, and the damage it does to these children, not having the love and guidance of their dads. Many divorced moms have told me how they are at a complete loss as to how these dads could do this. Of course, some of these moms complain and berate, while sabotaging their husbands relationship with the kids. Some do it intentionally, other subconsciously, but let’s exclude this obvious dynamic, which is one of the possible explanations. Why do the dads do this?

I want to be clear that to me our kids are Job #1. Now remember, men have been told to disallow their emotions to be a “man.” Who are men being a “man” for, their women and children of course. If you’re thinking this is crazy, it’s the opposite of what they need, you are correct. But this situation is all too real. Always keep that in mind when trying to understand men. Naturally, all humans have emotions, so to disallow any part of you is to disassociate from it. A disassociate disorder is a psychological condition. Yet, men are taught their version of this as a matter of course. This is highly damaging to men and those around them, like women. (Women are taught their own version of disassociation to be covered in future articles.)

So, here we have a typical man, his marriage is ending (failure and pain), and he must recreate himself and his life (scary). These strong feelings are not allowed for men, yet would naturally affect all persons, wouldn’t they? He will feel them like it or not (he doesn’t), he feels further drained, weaken by the stress and doesn’t know what to do. He also feels shame for having these “wrong” feelings. Men are supposed to know everything, which is why they won’t stop to ask for directions, so his not knowing how to handle all this is further shaming. He may blame her, while looking for varied distractions, or hunker down in his cave, licking his wounds. He most likely doesn’t have a support system to discuss his feeling with. Women usually have this important element; men basically don’t have a clue. He must internalize and repress these feeling, or he thinks he will be seen as crazy or less of a man. Of course, the opposite is true and his repression actually makes him crazy, but it is difficult at best for men to just drop years of programming.

OK, got the picture? Now, here is this divorcing man, feeling with intensity he is not presently trained to handle, and there are his babies. Why would he not want to see them?

From my personal experience of divorce with children, I will tell some of the reasons, and share what others have told me.

  1. My experience with my daughters was that every other weekend and once or twice during the week for dinner, I got to have my precious babies again. Then, I got to return them to their mother. This felt like/reminded me of the original loss. It was like having the scab ripped off a wound each and every time. I never missed an opportunity to see them, but that was me. This experience gave me a new understanding of why men leave their children, because it is so deeply painful and others just couldn’t handle it. This doesn’t excuse their not being there, only explains it.
  2. I was very involved with my daughters and still am. However, many men have followed in their father’s footsteps and work long hours, or come home and withdraw into the mindless boobtube. They simply don’t know how to relate to their families, and feel separate from them. They also have a day worth of work bottled up within and don’t feel they can share this. Sad, isn’t it all? But very real. When this type of male divorces, it is simply easier to disassociate from a family he never feel a part of anyway. I have asked women in these situations if they notice this before their divorces. Most were too busy with there own lives to notice, or gave it little thought, thinking it was hopeless. Or their own dads were like this, so they were used to it. None felt they had any responsibility. If you stand mute to it you are part of it.
  3. It seems to simplistic to call some men heartless. That said, maybe some just are. My question to their wives is: what in Gods name did you marry them for? Take responsibility for your choices. Enough said.
  4. Some men just lack the courage necessary to face their painful failures and take a stand for their children. The worst part is that they may even see the pain in their children’s eyes, the longing, the damage done by abandoning their children, and still they do nothing. They do this because they feel helpless, without options.

In conclusion, you can see now the how and why’s of it. Hopefully, with understanding and forgiveness we can encourage men to respond from their loving hearts. But this must be done with understanding. It is men’s patriarchal training that keeps them separate. It is everyone responsibility to correct this and give men permission and encouragement to feel. Women will also need to look at the busy fairytale illusion of life they are continuously creating that leaves men out, except to take out the garbage and bring in money. If you don’t think this is common, ask men.


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  1. Sheepshead

    Hello out there!

    Well, it all comes down to maturation through relationships. It is understandable to wreak of immaturity at times. In my case, I learn through mistakes. Sometimes mistakes are met with immaturity from the other side. I am divorced after 10 years of marriage. Lost a few jobs in a few years and developed depression.

    Reason for depression? Hmmm…the male role model in our wonderful Western culture that drives men to be nothing more than unemotional money reaping doormats to his wife and children. When the shit hits that fan…guess who goes a runnin’! You guessed…my ex spouse.

    As a result of depression…I ended up near suicide…slapped into a psych ward for a few rewarding weeks. The education was great and in my long stay I ended up teaching others in the institution. Smart man and adaptable to any situation.

    This all occurred just after my ex spouse filed for divorce. Already in depression, I was ready to end it. I had suicidal thoughts for a year at the time. The ex spouse knew this and threw gas onto the fire by filing for divorce. She had an extreme lack of support and empathy that I never had seen in any woman. …or maybe she is a man…lol!

    Anyway, a couple of years later well away from that mess I am a changed person. Financially strapped beyond I had ever imagined at my age…in my 40s. I am living below the poverty line. I am becoming a man again. My manhood was definitely stripped from me. I was isolated in my marriage…married to a Family instead of a wife…who has a wealthy father…narcissistic in many ways. I leave behind three girls all under 9 years of age. Great kids of who love their Dad. I still see them every other weekend. This is great, but wow…how I miss seeing them grow up. I miss out on so much. Can’t miss a day of work for special events at their school for I make nothing after all is said and done and I struggle to live in an apartment. Good old food stamps and state provided insurance…how can I argue. This is the life! LOL! All representative of marriage in our Western culture…the good old fairy tale…me me me I I I I garbage and the old…”We have grown apart.” Hmmm…I think many marriages are pretty elastic in that the participants grow apart and back together over the course of their marriage. If it were anything different…how boring and lacking of color.

    Anyway…my point is with the inability to take care of myself at a level that I was once able to…I find it difficult to carry on in a relationship with my kids. I know that I am a BIG part of their lives. My fear…homelessness. I lose a job…that is it. Why try and self deceive? The inevitable outcome of homelessness is the loss of everything including your kids. Yeah a phone call here and a phone call there doesn’t do them justice. I love my kids and to be pushed out of my own home without a job at the onset of divorce…unethical. The court system could give a damn about my kids. Money. Nothing but. Collect them child support payments and we get our cut. Wooohoooo! Another dumb ass getting married…Wooohoooo! So, I can see that some men leave their children for real reasons.

    Some things are out of a mans control. Financial…the burden of a narcissistic ex spouse. A former father-in-law that will do nothing but to win…someone who will drive a knife deeper into the wound to finish someone off. Knowing that my kids are involved with such folks is disturbing. Also the good old court system. Unethical and unconstitutional.

    So many people that I know have offered help in so many ways…they have all said, “I just don’t understand your situation?” “You are an awesome man.” Truth be told…my kids think the same. Sad for them. I hope that they understand if things get bad that I still love them.

  2. LR

    Thank you for giving some insight into men’s Psyche. Funny how they think in terms of black & white: yes – no: good – bad.

    The law is on the kid’s side. As much as humans may not be designed to be monogomous there is another choice. RELATE to your spouse! You need more love; attention fulfill one of her needs. If that doesn’t work speak!

    The best way to change attitudes & behaviors in other people is to change yourself.

    Men have choices. Most of us have a moral compass. They can work together.

    I know you are not sticking up for bad behavior but all I can say is wahhhhhhh to the scab being torn off. It is not like trying to keep a family together keep your job and raise your kids then turning them over to the fun parent who feels uncomfortable feeling pain of a scab removed so chooses not to see the kids.

    Really? Gee and I thought having your head cut off; that painful reminder of not being good enough for your ex was worse.

    Sometimes taking the road of least resistance is the worse road for everyone!

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