If you’re a divorced dad that does not have custody of your kids, you will know what I mean by the term “Uncle Dad”. For those of you that have no clue what I’m talking about, let me share some tidbits from an article I discovered at DivorceRecovery101.com:
The one great thing that came out of this marriage, the kids, and now they are for all practical purposes, gone. When a couple divorces, it is because the relationship of the couple has essentially died. She has to deal with the emotional trauma of splitting with a spouse, but he, in contrast, has to deal with the loss of a long term relationship with his spouse and he also has to deal with loss of the normal relationship with his children, which may have been closer and far more intense then the spousal relationship ever was.
Seeing his children again for a short time is a reunion, followed shortly by an emotional painful parting. This emotional tearing can be so heavy and painful for some men that they will subconsciously find excuses sometimes not to see their children as scheduled. Often the more they care about their children, and the resulting more pain, makes it more likely they are to find an excuse when they are not up to going thru these emotional partings. It does not necessarily need be all bad for the children, but it is often the most devastating for the father who had the children essentially removed from what was a big part of his life. What happens here is the father, who had daily close contact with his children, was energized by this daily interaction with his children now finds he is essentially out of the loop. He has become transferred from being a father who had close contact and a say in how his children were disciplined, educated, and what church they attended etc.
Divorced from his father role, he is now transformed to becoming a distant “uncle” who sends money but rarely sees the children and has no real say or control of what happens with raising these children. This bitter pill about what happens with his relationship with his children and the emotional hassle and turmoil often involved is one of the reasons you will find men have a higher homicide and suicide rate as a result of divorce then women have.
I edited out a lot of parts that I thankfully don’t have to deal with. My ex-wife is not vindictive and she has proven that she is willing to work with me as much as possible so that I can have extra time with my kids. What I tried to present from the article is what I can relate to. I have often said that sometimes I feel like a favorite uncle that sees the kids a few times a month and has fun with them. It’s hard to be a parent 20% of the time because there is so much you want to cram into that time! You want it to be fun so you can create memories together. You want to instill values and character and faith into your kids. You even want to be a part of disciplining them so that they become good men and women that will be a good contribution to society. But how can you with such little time?
I have no desire to throw my ex-wife under the bus. I couldn’t ask for a better situation considering the circumstances. The setup we have, where the kids live with her and I have them every other weekend, was agreed upon because neither one of us wanted the kids to feel like they didn’t have a home. And I do not regret that decision. I want my kids to have a home, and going back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s house every week will not, in my opinion, make them feel at home anywhere. Every week they will be packing up to “move”. That’s not a stable lifestyle for anyone, not to mention kids.
But it still sucks. I’m typically out of the loop on what’s going on in their lives. And when I do talk to them, it’s like pulling teeth to get any information out of them because they are kids. I hate feeling like a nuisance or burden. So it’s easy not to call sometimes. I completely understand why some guys decide to just disappear. I’m not talking about the worthless baby-daddy’s out there. I’m talking about the poorly labeled “dead beat dad” that just can’t handle the pain anymore. It’s hard not tucking your kids in every night. It’s hard not being there to help them with homework. It’s hard not seeing them misbehave or mess up so you can come alongside and correct or discipline them. It cuts deeply to hear your child refer to “my dad and my other dad” and immediately assume you’re the “other dad”.
I am writing this simply to let other guys in my situation know they aren’t alone. I don’t have any answers. It’s almost been six years since I lived in the same house with my kids and sometimes I think it gets harder. I know the pain you feel and the trials you endure. And to the dad that loves your kids but finds yourself on the brink of divorce to fight for your marriage. The grass is brown on the other side of the fence. It has weeds and insects that you can’t see right now. Trust me, I know. Love your kids by loving your wife better every day. If you don’t know how to do that, ask for help! It will take a lot of work and pride swallowing. But the best way to love your kids is to love your wife to the best of your ability so that you can save the marriage. Then you’ll be involved daily in the lives of your kids.
If you relate to this post in any way and need someone to talk to, you can contact me on twitter @kevinpbradford or on Facebook.