At first it seemed a strange thing to say. Saying “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” are the things a good Dad is expected to say to his kids. But there was another recurring statement that was a bit random. There was no pattern to its delivery. This statement came at all times and situations it seemed. He didn’t have any identifiable reason for saying it. The promise was unconnected to any problems that arose. He apparently felt that telling us that he would never leave our mom stood all by itself.
“No matter what happens, son, I’ll never leave your mother.” Why would he say that so frequently and with such intensity? I wonder what prompted all those unsystematic proclamations of his love for Mom. Maybe it was some friend of his who lived out the opposite of that promise. Their betrayal may have invited his desire to reassure us. Maybe it was a recent argument he and Mom had. The tiff may have caused him to make this statement to himself as much as his kids – to reinforce it. Maybe it was a continuing passionate love for Mom that just bubbled over from time to time. That love may have inspired the most random acts of expressing his love for Mom to us. I suspect that all these were true.
A Different World?
Few doubt that the fact that the greatest single difference in the way kids are raised today and the way they were raised 50 years ago is the number of kids affected by divorce. It is now common for kids to assume their friend’s parents are divorced. The parents that are still together are the anomaly—the exception to the rule. The occurrence is so frequent that we say things like “Are your parents together?” when getting to know someone new.
Parents should be the constant in a child’s life. They should be the bedrock of their existence that enables a child to feel secure and loved. A child should never have to question their parent’s commitment to each other—because they automatically interpret any separation as something they are a part of—and they are right. Dads often try to justify things to their soon-to-be left children: “Don’t worry, honey, this is just between me and your mother. We both love you just the same… and even though we aren’t going to live together any more, we’re still a family.” Kids see through this garbage so easily, and it amazes me that we’re so convinced by our selfishness that we can’t see the truth behind their teary discerning eyes.
Mistakes in the past are in the past, and many a divorced Dad has been able to be the best Dad possible despite the uphill battle they face. But they invariably come to the realization that they are starting from a mile behind the starting line. Understand this, dads, if you are married now—stay that way until you or your wife dies. It makes it almost impossible to be an effective and complete father without the team that is created by a mother and father together. Love mom and you’ll be a better Dad. The kind of Dad and husband a son would want to be when he grows up. Being Dad on purpose means staying with Mom.
Questions to Ask Yourself or a Group of Other Dads:
- What divorce do you know of that impacted the kids in a really difficult way?
- Have you gone through a rough patch in your marriage before that you’ve overcome?
- Do you think it’s really worth it to stay together for the kids—as this post claims?
- What do most people in the world think about divorce and kids?
- Do you know of someone who already has been divorced that has made the most of it for their kids? How are they pulling that off?