Joe Carter writes about his experiences as a divorced dad and comes to the conclusion that children need more than a “visiting” father and that this applies to dads who are not divorced. Now, Carter isn’t making a judgment on why some would divorce (in his situation, his wife left him) and knows that not all men have a choice about the custodial relationship with their kids.
Being an actively present father takes hard work and dedication and focus, but the alternative doesn’t bear considering.
But all things being equal, kids need their dad to present. I will concur as the son of a dad who was not present for much of my childhood, even before my parents divorced. (I say this only because my dad is a very different man today who recognizes the mistakes he made; I bear no ill will toward him and love him very much.) And I will say from a firsthand point of view that children need their fathers.
For Carter’s part, he specifically addresses fathers who are thinking of leaving their families, but some of what he says is as true for the rest of us, especially about the importance of our role in their lives.
I want to start with a basic premise: When your first child is born, your life stops being about what you want and starts being about what they need. If you disagree, then you can stop reading now. The rest of what I say will only make sense to those who understand that this is the foundation of fatherhood.
The problem, of course, is not with your kids but with your wife. You may be having a tough time in your marriage. You may be thinking that you no longer love or can live with your wife. You may believe that divorce is the only remaining option. I don’t know your situation. I won’t pretend to be able to understand what you are going through. I only know this: you’re children need you at home. Your sons and your daughters need your presence. Real fathers don’t leave their children
I’m fully aware of how unpopular such a claim will be. Our society tells us that you shouldn’t “stay together just for the kids.” Our culture tells us that progress has made fatherhood a vestigial artifact. Our hearts tell us that we deserve to pursue our own bliss.
Such an unpopular sentiment bears repeating: When your first child is born, you’re life stops being about what you want and starts being about what they need. They need you at home. If you’re a man and aspire to being a dad, that is all you need to know.
The crisis of fatherhood
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