Updated: Feb 3
There are plenty of them out there, but they don't get noticed and you hardly ever read about them, but they're out there, I know many, men who have stayed, done the work, while their partner in parenting has been unable to be the mom she thought she could be. Men, who are the back bone of their family, either together with the children's mom, or without.
These Dads, don't abandon, they don't move on to create another family, one they feel will work better than the last, they are Good, stable Dad's who love their children and understand that because the work is hard, you don't just move on.
There is however a bit of an epidemic with both Good Dads and Good Moms, once they become single, and have their children full time, which is very stressful, and completely exhausting. Often times, Mom's and Dad's, I'll call them Singles, sometimes these Singles, although great parents, have a very difficult time choosing the right partner, after they are separated.
In my practice I see both men and women who are dealing with serious maladaptive child behaviours 3 to 4 years after their separation or divorce. These parents, are good parents, they take their kids to healthy extra curricular activities, spend time with them, get them to school on time, take their children on holidays, but still their children are seriously struggling.
Inevitably once I've gotten the whole story, however, it is very apparent why the children not all, but usually one for sure, in the family system, is acting out, either at school, socially or in the home, showing anger, disrespect, and serious defiance.
Kids need safety, PERIOD, how to make them feel safe? CONNECTION!. How to create the connection, and keep it from being broken, that's the real struggle. Once this safety is created, uninterrupted the children will relax and all the negative feels will disappear, eventually. Alot of parents don't understand this.
Lets, break it down. Singles need and deserve their own connection, they need it, it's in our DNA, we are born to be in relationship, one that feeds us on many levels, it's a hard one to avoid, however, we are sometimes in such a rush to fill that void, we make very poor decisions based on poorly navigated motivations.
Sometimes, we see a person who we admire for their organized, controlled way of getten
'er done, when you're a Single, the routine is so stressful, if you have three children the morning school run can be the worst part of the day, so we seek help, we might be attracted to a person who makes it all look so easy, we fall in love date, they move in, and in the beginning it's like heaven on earth, but after a few months we realize we have to real connection with this person, and off they go into the wild blue yonder leaving us with our kids to cope with the after math.
We might be a bit sad but know this is for the best, but the children, what are they feeling? likely confused, angry, the wounds from their absent mother or father rise up and now they are dealing with double the emotional quagmire the separations have conjured up. We adults might have the coping mechanisms to handle the break up, but our littles do not.
This cycle of a Single is repeated over and over until the children, or child starts to say with their behaviour, they've had enough, they need a break, and want connection, they are saying thru their maladaptive behaviour, LOOK AT ME!!!
As a mom or dad, it's hard for us to understand because we think we are doing all the right things, which on one level we are, however, on a deep emotional level the children are being asked to connect, disconnect and then continue on. That is not possible for young children.
If we are going to take care of our children we must do it on more than just the Doing level, doing this doing that, we must attend to their feeling level, take into account how what we do affects them.
If we ask a child to heal from the broken connection of losing their mother or father, the family unit, we must do so with great compassion and patient. it takes a sensitive child a long time to adjust to the fracture of a broken relationship, if we do not allow them this time, they will go into the next relationship with distrust, if the cycle is not stopped, our children suffer thru lack of connection, which leads to lack of safety, which leads to anger, noncompliance, and social difficulties.
Maladaptive behaviour is usually the result of trauma, trauma is caused thru some kind of broken connection, the child has been faced with a lack of safety, and if connection and a sense of safety is not recreated, the child will grow up unable to have healthy connections, and when we don't have healthy connections in adulthood we turn to other means of numbing the sense of fear and anxiety this disconnect can invoke.
So good Dads and Mom's, of which I know there are plenty, take it slow, when moving on from your break up, remember you are the engine of your train, in control, and have little cars attached to you and that attachment is so very crucial and tenuous in times of upheaval.
Don't ask too much of your children, they don't have much to give, they're still learning.