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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.