Divorced Dad Syndrome?
There are some inherent problems in the opening paragraphs of this divorced mom’s premise about marriage and the balance between moms and dads. In something called “divorced dad syndrome,” she begins to lay out her complaints about her ex-husband and most exes. I take offense to her generalizations and would hope to point out in this post, that her bias is more about her and not about outlining some truth about dads and something called divorced dad syndrome.
The idea that moms and dads should spend equal time parenting is all around fantastic but so are most romantic comedies. That doesn’t mean life generally works that way. Many fathers have every intention of being as involved in their children’s lives but a family needs to eat. On a basic logistical level, men often find themselves having to work too hard for too long to be able to make that a daily reality. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. Marriage is a partnership, and clearly defined household roles, not necessarily according to gender, can be stabilizing and healthy for everyone.
If the partnership crumbles and the would-be parental teammates end up separating into two households, it’s quite common for both parents to worry about how the children will handle their time in Dad’s new place. The kids have had mom there every single morning they’ve woken up and night they’ve gone to sleep for their entire lives while dad has been out at meetings or away on business in order to build a stronger network and keep the family in that beautiful home.
“Equal parenting time” is equated to a romantic fantasy. Um… So, you are saying YOUR equal parenting time was not a 50/50 partnership? Okay…
“Many fathers have every intention of being as involved in their children’s lives but a family needs to eat.” Okay, so dad is the breadwinner in this scenario. Can it go the other way? Can both parents be responsible for the income in a family with kids? Yes, I believe the answer is yes.
“On a basic logistical level, men often find themselves having to work too hard for too long to be able to make that a daily reality.” Okay, is this a SAHM here we’re listening to? I’m unclear. But the assumption that working dads make daily shared parenting more of a “romantic fantasy.” Okay, I’m trying to listen.
“Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that.” Well, except you’re saying fathers are not 50/50 partners in parenting if they are working fathers.
“Marriage is a partnership, and clearly defined household roles, not necessarily according to gender, can be stabilizing and healthy for everyone.” Yes, let’s get back to this partnership thing. Did you both decide that he would work and you would do the lion’s share of the parenting? I can see how that is possible. But your overall premise that this is the way it is as a setup for your entire article is a bit misguided, I think.
On to paragraph 2.
“… it’s quite common for both parents to worry about how the children will handle their time in Dad’s new place.” Wait, when did we decide mom was getting the house? (I’ll suspend further questioning for a bit.)
This next one is so loaded I’m going to break it into two parts.
“The kids have had mom there every single morning they’ve woken up and night they’ve gone to sleep for their entire lives.” Oh, yes, hard to believe dad might have been in that picture as well. But wait…
“… while dad has been out at meetings or away on business in order to build a stronger network and keep the family in that beautiful home.” Nice, so dad’s business trips to keep everyone in a nice home, the home that mom’s keeping, is now not such a primary caregiver? Is that the idea?
I’d really like to hear the author write about how she navigates being a single mom and parenting two boys.
I find these statements biased and unfair to all parties. And then as the article goes on to outline a dad and his daughter and the difficulties he might be having with something called “The Divorced Dad Syndrome.” The author outlines for us dads how best to be accommodating to our daughters. It’s a quaintly written piece from a divorced mom of two boys. She’s projecting what her daughter might like from her dad. And I think it’s a bit off, given the opening bias.
I googled “The Divorced Dad Syndrome” and found it to be a made-up phrase.
Did I struggle to provide a good home for my daughter? Sure. Did my ex-wife get the house? Yes. Did I also struggle under the mortgage payment I made on that house while still trying to feed and provide for myself, and my kids, when I got to see them 30% of the time? Yes.
Is 50/50 parenting a romantic fantasy? No. Is the mom the primary and most vital caregiver because she’s been there every morning and every night of their kids lives while dad was away on business trips? No.
I’d really like to hear the author write about how she navigates being a single mom and parenting two boys. That might be within her wheelhouse, here in this post she’s talking about something she doesn’t know about and doesn’t really support. Are there similar issues for her as a mom of 2 boys? Is “mama’s boy syndrome” a risk for her sons?
This woman is a dating expert and former divorce mediator, but she’s setting up her premise for helping men with their divorced dad syndrome and she has no idea what she’s talking about, personally. Maybe she interviewed her divorced friends with daughters. Maybe she’s using her experience as a divorce mediator. All fine and good, but this article is not instructive or balanced. It is assuming
- Dad works a lot
- Divorced moms get the house
- Kids need mom more because she’s been there every morning and every night
- Dad’s struggle with daughters, for lack of first-hand experience
And all but one of those is true. But it’s the lie in #3 that sets up the inequality in divorce that is rampant in our country.
Here are five common assumptions of divorce in the US:
- Dads are lesser parents
- Moms should be the custodial parent
- Dads should pay child support
- Moms should get the family house
- Moms should get the majority of the time with the kids
My daughter is now 15, and sure, as a single dad, we both experienced some growing pains. They were not fixed by “nesting” or going shopping together. I’m fighting to bring these lies to light. I welcome comments and corrections in my comments, they are always open.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling life after divorce. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.
NOTE: At the request of the author of the piece I am critiquing, I have removed the link to the original.
- Parenting Lesson: Always Consider Lightening Your Kid’s Load
- Divorce, Kids, and Money
- Back to the Beginning: Co-Parenting with Serenity
- Displacement: A Single-Parenting Love Story
- Grief is Underneath: A Divorce Fable
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue