A common divorce scenario for families with children, looks like this: Dad moves out of the marital home into a small apartment while Mom and the kids remain in the family dwelling. While it seems like a sensible option, it is important not to underestimate the severe sense of loss a father has to deal with. This also applies when the roles are reversed and the mother moves out.
Below are some points for careful consideration when going through a divorce.
When spouses separate in this manner, with the intention to divorce, a father not only loses the home and safe haven he proudly provided for his family, he also no longer enjoys the familiar home environment that he inhabited for a long time. The effects of down-scaling to a tiny living area, compared to the space and creature comforts he was accustomed to, are far reaching. He might suddenly find himself without his favourite things, such as the big screen television, reclining chair, braai facility, swimming pool and even his carefully cultivated garden. On top of this, he will face the challenge of providing a comfortable second home for his child(ren) under these circumstances. Along with divorce, moving house is regarded as one of the top five stressors in life.
Ending a marriage, results in the devastating loss of a life partner and lover. Add the loss of a parenting partner and the joint decision-making process when it comes to raising your children and a father might very well feel completely isolated from his once intact family unit. It takes time and effort from both parents to establish a new co-parenting relationship and while that process is unfolding, valuable parent-child time and bonding opportunities are lost.
Daily contact with children is a thing of the past and with it the consistent and regular influence in their upbringing is undermined. A father’s opportunities to guide, mentor and set an example to his children is severely diminished. In many cases it is lost completely through active parental alienation. His ability to instinctively care for, support and nurture his family, is suddenly reduced to a schedule of pre-determined intervals of visitation. Spontaneity is sacrificed with the limited, rushed and seldom private interaction of the normal alternate-weekends arrangement.
As a result of logistical changes and a breakdown in communication, fathers are not always informed of their little ones’ progress, activities, schedules etc., and sometimes miss out on events and special occasions. Institutions are not equally aware and sensitive to the unique challenges of a dual-household family and this contributes to the gradual deterioration of parent-child relationships due to his unintended absence. Here are some practical tips on Divorce Etiquette for Special Occasions.
Regular family activities such as sports, hobbies & other outings, are no longer possible once a family goes through divorce, as it simply becomes too painful for both parents to participate while dealing with all the emotional issues related to the break-up of a marriage. The father, who no longer lives at the same address, almost gets excluded by default.
As the status quo in a marriage changes with divorce, so is the status of relationships inevitably altered with family members. A close relationship with a family member might become distant and a trusted friend or parent-in-law lost in the process. In some instances friends and family deliberately choose sides and such losses are extremely hurtful to the party who is left out in the cold.
Family goes beyond people for some and the sudden separation from beloved pets for an animal lover, is also traumatic. Read more about Who Gets the Pets.
The value of a trusted and supportive housekeeping team is also greatly underestimated. It takes time to overcome the disruption, find new employees and establish the working relationships.
The communities that we live and operate in, such as our neighbourhoods, social groups, schools, sports clubs, churches etc., form an integral part of our daily lives and offer a notable support network. Moving away from it or being excluded or excommunicated by some, is often the underlying cause of much distress, as we tend to disregard the importance of fitting in and belonging somewhere.
Obviously, this is applicable to any parent moving out of the marital home as a result of divorce. The important thing to bear in mind is that there are numerous less obvious aspects at play and that parents need to prioritise the development of an effective parenting plan to accommodate these losses.
This article originally appeared on Fair Divorce
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