Many people fear ending their marriage because of the potentially negative impacts of divorce on their children but quite frankly, divorce can mean becoming a better parent and that has to be a win for your children.
My current guest, Kyle Bradford has been divorced now for nine years. When his marriage ended he had two children, a son aged nine months and a daughter aged two. When I asked Kyle what he thought was his greatest accomplishment since his divorced, he said the strength of his relationship with his children. Here’s Kyle:
I’m going to answer that question from the standpoint of being a man and a father. I think first, it would have to be the relationship that I’ve been able to establish with my kids.
I tell men and women for that matter, all the time, that divorce—a separation, especially for men, provides an opportunity to bond with your children in a way quite frankly, that you could never have done in the shadow of their mom.
And I don’t think men understand that. I’ve had a relationship with my kids now, for nine years. I still live alone. I’m engaged, but we do not live together. They’ve never experienced me in any other way than I am now and I’ve taken that nine years to be intentional about really building a relationship with them that I have to believe maybe that I never would have had if I still had been married.
The first thing is, you don’t take your kids for granted when you don’t see them everyday. I’ve been with my kids the last three days. They’re not with me tonight. They’re at their mom’s tonight.
I see this all the time with nuclear families. I see that the parents quite often take the kids for granted, because they’re always there. I never have that. That’s a luxury quite frankly, that I’ve never had.
When I am with my kids, I’m with my kids far more often than if I was seeing them everyday.
I’m more intentional, because I’ll be with them for three or four days and I might not see them for two days. I might talk to them, but I won’t see them and be in their presence. It’s that realization that every time you’re with your kids—in some cases, it’s temporary at least for the short-term—there’s going to be an expiration date, until the next time you see them again. So, you want to try to connect with them as much as you can for as long as you have them.
When they’re with me, I’m mom and dad. I’m the only parent.
I can still remember even now, when I moved into the home that I’m in now, I had to go out and buy everything: baby bottles, baby clothes, high chairs, all of that. I had none of it and it was my responsibility. I got up with my son in the middle of the night. I had to continue to feed him bottles, change his diapers. That was on me and I think that type of thing, a lot of times is kind of passed off to the mom in the nuclear family.
When you’re divorced, you don’t have that option and you don’t have that option as they grow up either, because they’re with you and you’re serving both of those roles. I think that it truly really can be a blessing. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to take advantage of it for as long as I have and I just feel that my relationship with my kids would never had been the way that it is today had I still been married.
We don’t own our children. It’s not like a piece of furniture or house or a car. We don’t own them. They’re with us for a small amount of their life and when you have to share your children with someone else, it changes the entire dynamic of your relationship with your kids and your view of them later on.
I’ll never have a problem with my kids when they go to college. Some parents absolutely lose it. I’ll never have that problem. I have different problems, yes, but I can tell you the thing that I’m glad of the most is that I had the insight to learn from what it had to teach me so that I can be a better parent for them.
Frankly, I can be a better husband to my fiancé. So, I have to look at it that way. What’s the alternative?
The Divorce Coach Says
Kyle’s far from being alone in this and it’s not just dads who become better parents. Another of my guests, Michelle talked about the tension that was released after her divorce and how she felt she was calmer, more patient, more relaxed at home and that played into her parenting. She also talks about appreciating the involved parent her ex has become.
Another guest, Kathleen feared that divorce would mean the terrible relationship between her and her husband would deteriorate further and she thought it would be a terrible thing to do to their child. Yet, with a lot of hard work and help from professionals they’ve been able to create a co-parenting relationship that can be relaxed, friendly and flexible.
If you’ve been divorced for some time, how has your parenting style changed? How do you think your children have benefited?
If you’re considering divorce and are fearful for your children, then I challenge you to take a look from a different perspective. What negative aspects of your current style of parenting could you change? Why do you think this change is possible?
Kyle Bradford is a divorced father and founder of the website ChopperPapa, ‘High octane observations on manhood, divorce, relationships, fatherhood, and other intellectual roadkill’. He also hosts a monthly podcast, FatherhoodWideOpen, ‘Intelligent conversation on issues facing fatherhood and masculinity with the people who think and write on them.’ He lives, writes, and works in Atlanta, Georgia.
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