I was scouring the information superhighway for articles about divorced dads, and ran into an article by Joel Schwartzberg, author of The 40 Year Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad, (who has a super-90’s counter on his website). He not-so-recently published a top 10 list on The Huffington Post of the “Must Knows” for a Divorced Dad. Joel, I’ll admit, is a little more qualified to write on the topic than I am, but I think his insider’s view might have colored his opinion. Some of his advice is pretty accurate, but other parts seem to come from his heart and not his head.
Being the child of a divorce-torn family, I’ve got a couple talking points for him.
Not that I ever thought I’d pit myself against a former Nickelodeon producer and award-winning writer, but here’s his list with my corrections:
He says: “The Only Parenting Expectations Worth a Damn Are Your Own.”
I say: Well, that’s a nice thought. But you’re thinking too much like a dude that just got divorced. Now that you’re free of the no-doubt bear trap of an ex-wife that crushed you under her heel, you want to think nothing more than “I’m free, world, get a load of this!” This is why you see recently-divorced dudes growing that pony-tail (or, ew, a skullet), and buying a sports car they’ve always wanted. There are certainly expectations you’ve got to be wary of – the most important of which is those of State/Federal law, especially in a gender-biased system that favors mothers over fathers.
Let’s also pretend that humans are social creatures and that you do care about how people treat your kid; you’re not going to want to look like an absolute douchebag in matters of parenting. Whatever you do – in your personal life or dating life, if your child sees it, he’s going to tell the world – and that includes his classmates and his mother. And if his classmates hear something, they’ll tell their parents. And those parents will talk. Word will get back to the school, and somehow, you’ll be the demon parent and mom will be the saint – whether or not you’ve done anything wrong.
So it’s not really a matter of the “only” expectations mattering being your own – it’s the fact that you don’t live in a vacuum.