Your Father

Demeaning and Demoralizing Divorced Dads

It's not news that fathers face many obstacles in trying to maintain close relationships with their daughters and sons after divorce. The question is, what can we do about it?

You don't have to be a divorced parent or a professional who works with divorced families in order to take the first step in helping divorced fathers and their kids stay bonded. There are a number of myths and misconceptions in our society that work against fathers relationships with their kids after divorce. So your first step is to educate yourself about the statistical facts and realities and to share this informatoin with everyone you know:

Myth: Dads aren't capable of raising kids on their own. Reality: Kids raised by single fathers are just as well adjusted and just as happy as kids raised by single mothers.

Myth: It doesn't matter much to adult children how much time they spent with their dads after their parents' divorce. Reality: Many adult children wish their mother had allowed or been enthusiastic about their spending more time with their fathers after the parents’ divorce.

Myth: Almost all children are seriously and permanently damage by their parents' divorce. Reality: Very few children have serious, ongoing problems as a result of their parents' divorce.

Myth: As long as the mother is a good enough parent, the kids won't suffer from having too little contact with their father. Reality: The greater the damage to their relationship with their fathers, the more likely kids are to have problems throughout their lives that are the result of father absence.

Myth: Most fathers are carefree, swinging bachelors after their divorce. Reality: Fathers are more likely than mothers to be depressed and suicidal after divorce—mainly because they miss their kids.

Myth: Well educated parents are far more cooperative and more likely to do what's best for their kids after their divorce than less educated parents. Reality: College-educated, white parents are not necessarily more cooperative and the wives may be angrier than less educated women over financial matters.

Myth: Most divorced men are deadbeat dads who don't make their child support payments. Reality: The vast majority of divorced fathers are making their child support payments in full. The men who don't pay child support usually have never been married and are poorly educated or unemployed.

Myth: It's up to the father what kind of relationship he has with his kids after divorce. Reality: The more enthusiastic and supportive the mother is, the more likely the father is to maintain a close relationship with his children.

Myth: When dad remarries, he usually stops seeing his kids and quits paying child support. Reality: Getting remarried generally has little impact or no impact on how much time a father spends with his children or how much money he sends them.

Let's get these messages across so that children will have fewer negative beliefs about their fathers after divorce and so that we can offer more emotional support and understanding to divorced dads.

* The complete list of references for these research studies and statistics are in "Embracing Your Father:How to Build the Relationship You Always Wanted With Your Dad.".

©2008 Dr. Linda Nielsen

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It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. Pope John XXIII

Dr. Nielsen has been teaching, counseling, conducting research and writing about adolescents and father-daughter relationships since 1970. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the outstanding graduate's award in teacher education from the University of Tennessee in 1969, she taught and counseled high school students for several years. After earning a Master's Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational and Adolescent Psychology, she joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in 1974. Her grants and awards include the Outstanding Article Award in 1980 from the U.S. Center for Women Scholars and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women. For the past fifteen years she has focused primarily on father-daughter relationships with a special emphasis on divorced fathers and their daughters. Her work has been cited in the "Wall Street Journal" as well as in popular magzines such as "Cosmopolitan", and shared through television and radio interviews..

In 1991 she created her "Fathers & Daughters" course - the only college course in the country that focuses exclusively on father-daughter relationships. In addition to having written several dozen articles for journals such as the "Harvard Educational Review" and the "Journal of Divorce & Remarriage", Dr. Nielsen has written three books: How to Motivate Adolescents (Prentice Hall) and Adolescence: A Contemporary View (Harcourt Brace) which sold more than 60,000 copies and was adopted by hundreds of universities throughout the country and abroad between 1986-1996. Her third book, Embracing Your Father: Creating the Relationship You Want with Your Dad was published in April, 2004. www.wfu.edu/~nielsen or E-Mail

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