Monthly Archives: May 2014

Are You a Single Father or a Divorced Dad?

A startling confession from his wife while out with friends angered Doug Zeigler enough to explore the stereotype of men who are divorced and have kids.

After a few cocktails, a friend of my wife’s who had begun dating again after divorce made what she thought was a fairly innocuous comment: “I think there’s a lot more nice women than there are nice men in the dating pool.” During the evening, she had been talking about the men she had met and how she saw them as far as any long-term relationship was concerned. She has children, so naturally that is a large part of her assessment of the dating pool. One man she really liked was not someone she thought would be a great influence on her kids. Not that he would be a negative one, but not overwhelmingly positive. That is what spurred her comment.

After stifling an eye roll, I said that I thought that “nice” was subjective, because what one woman might think is a nice gesture or approach, another woman may find offensive. Same with men. When my wife and her friend started talking about finding someone who is a good fit for your kids, I heard this from the woman I married: “There’s a difference between a single father and a divorced dad.”

I’m not ashamed to admit this dumbfounded me. “What’s the difference?” I asked.

Her answer startled me and even angered me a bit. I wasn’t angry at her exactly, but at the stereotype she shared that her friend completely understood without an explanation.

According to this mindset, men who do not have their children full-time are not single fathers. They are considered divorced dads. Single fathers are those that care for their children full-time and “understand” what a single mother contends with on the day-to-day as a result. Divorced dads are men who have their children every other weekend and have all kinds of freedom in between, and as such do not act like fathers during that time. They don’t always consider the time they have outside having their children at all intersecting with the time they spend with their kids, which makes them seem irresponsible.

That was my summation of what she said, understand. Her explanation was more eloquent, but no less astounding — and denigrating, in my opinion, considering I only get my sons every weekend as per my custody agreement.

I waited until we were on our way home so I could calm down a bit, but I had to ask. I had to know. “Did you see me as a divorced dad, not a single father when we started dating?”

Realizing that I may have been offended by that, she sheepishly replied, “Yes… and you overcame that.”

Let me just say that I never considered myself less than a single father when I was single. I found her notion that men who don’t have their kids full-time are somehow less of a father than ones that do to be abhorrent. The question is: why is THAT the stereotype?

I asked a swath of friends what their opinion was and it was largely in line with what my wife and her friend thought. I could see that this was a not just a case of me being overly-sensitive to the plight of divorced dads with kids, but rather a perception that was widely held. I turned to that savior of information, the Internet. According tocensus.gov, in 2011, 18.3% of fathers had primary physical custody, up from 6.1% in 1993.That is a massive jump in numbers, to be certain, yet the stereotype that men who do not have their children all the time are not equal to the men who do persists.

A salient view of this issue could be found in an article on attorneys.com, which asks the question: “Why Do Women Win Custody?” Their sobering answer: There are many reasons why women win custody in the overwhelming number of cases. Chief among them: Because that’s the way it’s always been.

Traditionally, men worked and women stayed home to raise children. Although that is less frequently the case these days, there is still a bias toward women in child custody cases. From a biological perspective, we are more inclined to think of the mother-child relationship than the father-child relationship. Many people make the automatic assumption that women are more nurturing as parents than men.

In a world where women comprise 47% of the total labor force in the U.S. (as per the US Department of Labor), it seems pretty safe to assume that men and women work roughly the same amount of jobs. Add to it the growing number of stay-at-home fathers and it’s pretty clear: men and women can both be caring and nurturing parents.

So how can we get past this bias? I fear it’s not that simple. This is part of our culture. Just take a look at all the nostalgia for “the good old days,” comprised of the idea of a nuclear family, complete with the Ward Cleaver-esque father heading off to work while June stays home to care for the house and the kids. However, our culture has shifted and changed, and that highly specialized view of the ideal family just doesn’t suit anymore.

Then, there is this idea that women are better nurturers than men, ergo, better parents. I can recall hearing my attorney say this to me when I filed for divorce: “Well, in this county, you’re not going to get custody. It just doesn’t happen unless the woman is a drug addict, a danger to your kids or a mental patient. You’ll be in the minority if you get more than every other weekend with your sons. My advice would be to do all you can to keep her happy, so that she’ll be easier to deal with when it comes to custody.” This was the man I was paying to help me, and his sage advice was catering to the whims of the woman I was divorcing.

And boy, did I ever take that advice to heart. I was scared to death I would only be allowed to see my sons four days a month. I bent over backwards and gave up many things naively because I feared the worst. In the end, I was lucky I was able to have my sons every weekend and have dinner with them during the week. My agreement is seen as a victory even by my attorney’s standards. I’m certainly thankful I get that much time because it could have easily been worse.

That is what is frustrating for me. I am viewing this as a man who has sacrificed to maintain a connection to his children. I realize there is a whole other side of this argument from a female perspective. My wife voiced how it wasn’t her intent to judge single fathers or to be overly critical. Instead, she viewed it as a cautious measure when considering who she, as a single mother, chose to date. She admitted she felt tremendous gravity in her serious dating relationships to weigh what “kind” of father those men would be around her children. Some were classified as “divorced dads” and did not make the cut to even be around her daughters.

I can empathize with her explanation, because I was very choosy about who my kids would meet too. The difference is that I didn’t assume the worst. That doesn’t make her protective stance with her daughters wrong, just a different approach. I guess I just find it sad that societally, we assume the worst when it comes to men and fatherhood, especially in the case of custody. I do believe that with time, we can prove that we can be and ARE great parents in our own right and eradicate the stereotypes. The onus is on us, men. We need to own our fatherhood and show how marvelous we all are at being “just” a dad, and that makes us great fathers, too. 

Original Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-zeigler/are-you-a-single-father-or-a-divorced-dad_b_5310358.html

Knowing You Are Not Alone In Divorce

When a man and a women get married they never want to think that anything could ever end their happily ever after. The truth is that marriage often does end in divorce. The question is why? What are the challenges come between a husband and wife that can tear apart a home? While it is common when looking at divorce filings to see the women as the plaintiff in divorce men do file for divorce as well. Let’s explore some of the more common reasons men say they are lead to filing for divorce.

Infidelity is the number one reason couples give when seeking a divorce. It is hard to repair a marriage once a spouse has lost the trust and confidence of their partner. This is especially true when it comes to a wife having an extra marital affair. It is incredibly difficult to forgive someone for intimacy shared with another person especially one that pledged to share their life with only you.

Another issue that is often given by men filing for divorce is due to the inability or lack of desire to have children. The pressure for men to have children to carry on their family’s legacy is still alive even now when adoption options are incredibly common. Issues arise frequently when one spouse is unable to provide a child either because of a lack of interest or inability. This can lead to many complications in a marriage that can’t stand the test of time.

Love is an overwhelming feeling. Love shows itself in a variety of different ways at first. When you are in a relationship the natural flow of happiness often leads to marriage. The problem that exists is that in this “love” phase we are often blinded by issues with our partners that are sure signs of incompatibility. Incompatibility is another issue that is often cited as a reason for divorce. When there is a difference in attitude, beliefs or opinions that can’t be reasoned with men often seek out divorce. Incompatibility and a lack of compromise can quickly turn that overwhelming love into an annoying conflict of interest.

When a family is created the roles that men and women take on are varied. Children take a marriage that was balanced and often throw it off balance. When parents forget to rebalance their roles this can often lead to issues in the marriage. Often women become caregivers to the children and take on a more domestic role. When a man feels he is bringing more to the table than the woman it often leads him feeling as if he is being taken advantage of. This unbalance, if not quickly corrected, can lead a man to file for divorce.

Another thing happens when children are born, a curve in affection. When a child enters a family a new dynamic of attention and affection is created. Often time’s men feel that there is a lack of tending to and attention on them. When a spouse feels this neglect they often can become incredibly bitter. A lack of attention and affection from their spouse is a reason divorce attorney’s often site as a reason their client is seeking divorce as well.

No matter what reason you have for wanting a divorce it is valuable to know that you are not alone. Your reason is as valid as the next. If your marriage is lacking in any way shape or form you have every right to seek a divorce and create happiness for yourself and your children. If two people choose to stay married when they are clearly unhappy this creates a different set of issues especially when children are involved.

Longton DM, a subsidiary of Longton Law Offices is a divorce attorney specializing in Men/Dad’s in divorce. For experienced representation throughout the divorce process in Michigan you can find more information athttp://www.michigandivorcelawyerfordad.com.

Learning To Live Life During And After Divorce

When your marriage ends and you suddenly go from being a couple or family to being single it is a huge life adjustment. Getting back into the single life can be hard for men after divorce. This not only includes dating but also hanging out with friends, taking care of yourself as well as your home and other areas of your social life that you left your wife in charge of.  This process will take some time and can be an adjustment for many; the tips below will help you get back into the social groove.

First thing understand that you may need some time after your divorce to clear your head and grieve.  You may have had time while the divorce was in process to get a feel for the single life. Be aware however that many times you will find yourself coping with a different feeling once the divorce is actually final, assets are split and child custody & support agreed upon. You may find yourself starting the grieving process over again and that is okay.  Allow yourself time to mourn the loss of your marriage and old life.

Take time to be alone without being in a relationship or dating.  This time period allows you time to discover who you are, on your own, without the influence of anyone or anything else to compromise with.  The new you, especially the new you with children may not be what you remember from before your marriage.  You owe it to yourself to find out who you are and to adjust.

Take time to do things that you avoided and put off while you were married. This is the time to explore those things you wanted to while married but didn’t because your wife didn’t like it.  Now is the time to do what you want being it travel, fish or buy a motorcycle.  Enjoy yourself and do those things that you compromised because of your commitment to your wife and family.  When you are divorced there is no one to compromise with so the sky is truly the limit for you.  Take time to enjoy it and discover your single life.

Take some time when getting back into the dating game.  Play the field, go on a lot of dates and stay out of relationships to start with.  Many women will understand your desire to stay commitment free for while after your divorce.  If they don’t understand that desire most likely you are falling back into the same traps you may have in your first marriage.  Compromise is good to some point however if you find yourself always on the giving end you are dating in the wrong direction.

More than anything your life after divorce should take into consideration all you learned from your marriage and throughout your divorce.  Take the good and bad experiences and amplify the areas that work while reducing those that don’t.  Learn and grow from past mistakes, bad decisions and hardships.  Move past them and bring only the positives out of what you have learned into your new life.

Longton DM, a subsidiary of Longton Law Offices is a divorce attorney specializing in Men/Dad’s in divorce.  For experienced representation throughout the divorce process in Michigan you can find more information at http://www.michigandivorcelawyerfordad.com.