Top 10 “Must Knows” for Divorced Dads
He says: “You Have An Inner Dad”
I say: There’s no “inner dad”. You’re still the same dad you’ve always been, inside-and-out. Your relationship with your ex-wife does not change what you feel about your kid, and it should not change how you treat him. You’ve been a dad, and you still are one. It almost sounds like Schwartzberg is trying to say “well dude, now that you’re single, you’ll be out drinking and banging chicks, but you got to hold it together when your kid gets a splinter.”
Okay, maybe not that far. But I don’t get Schwartzberg’s opinion that you’re going to “get to know” this inner dad. You should know him by now – and if you don’t, you shouldn’t have had kids. I believe in personal responsibility – and a big part of it is knowing when to have kids – because if you’re not ready, then life will walk all over you. It’s too easy to let men off the hook for most of the day, and then say that they’ve got to be a dad for only one part of it. From the second that kid comes sliding out, bathed in blood that contains your DNA, he’s yours. And no disrespect to adoptive fathers – you’re just as much a dad as the others.
So cut that crap out, you don’t have an inner dad. You can’t have some inner beast that you already are. Now, if you want to say you’ve got an “inner mom”, then that’s fine. If you want to say that a divorced father has to learn some of the maybe-not-gender-natural roles that a mother usually fills, then that’s a great point. Divorced fathers don’t replace the mother – but need to learn to help do whatever it was that his ex used to do day-to-day. Whether that’s emotionally supporting your child, or making sure he’s getting enough fruits and vegetables – it’s important, and again, you’d want and expect your ex-wife to “man-up” and help support the male role in the household while you’re not around.
He says: “Your Issues With the Ex Don’t Belong in Your Kids’ Lives”
I say: Totally correct. If you’ve been reading all of my long-winded hubbub about how you and your ex should be respecting each other from afar, then you know I’ve been saying that you didn’t divorce your kids, and your kids did nothing wrong. And just because you don’t get along with your ex-wife doesn’t mean that your kid doesn’t like his mother. So it’s in your best interest to not bad-mouth your ex in front of your kid, and not involve them in any of the issues. Be an adult. If you call your ex a “whore” in front of your kid, it’s just going to make them sad.
If kids look at their parents as invincible heroes, and then they do something as vulnerable and unheroic as divorce – then your child’s world has been turned upside-down. Don’t make it worse.
He says: “You’ll Screw Up… And That’s Okay”
I say: Again, correct. You made mistakes as a married couple, but with a father-and-mother team, it’s easier to disguise and diffuse mistakes (reference above where your kids think you’re invincible heroes). When you’re on your own, you’ve got to let your kid know that you’re human too and you make mistakes. And secretly, your kid knows it already – especially since he’s now seeing you as a more vulnerable (single) person.
If you’ve got older kids, they might even understand that your marriage, let’s be honest, was a mistake. You already had to do the birds and bees talk with your kid starting with everyone’s favorite line: “When two people love each other, they come together…”. Well, now it’s time for you to explain it backwards – when two people fall out of love, they’ve got to have enough common sense to know when to call it quits. It’s a harsh reality, but copping to it might be an important step for you and your kid.
I know it’s odd to say, but I hope Joel Schwartzberg reads my post and thinks about my points. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll read his book, though I’m not thrilled about the title having a play-on-words from a recent movie, as well as a cutesy re-worked word. But hey dude, he used to work for Nickelodeon and has been on CNN, so what do I know?