When my niece was five, my brother became a single dad. The divorce got a little messy at times, and Alan had to make some heads-up decisions to make sure he didn’t lose his daughter right along with the marriage.
One of Alan’s most important – and difficult – commitments was to be consistently positive with his daughter’s mom: he chose to speak positively about her, to treat her with kindness and respect, and to always build her up in the presence of their child. He stuck with his plan, with great resolve, even when he knew he wasn’t being afforded the same courtesy in return.
I’m not suggesting my brother did everything right, but I am pointing out that one of the best things he could do for his relationship with his daughter was to treat her mother with consideration, sympathy, thoughtfulness, and support.
Let’s not let our ideas about fairness become confused with what is right for our relationships and our children. Here are five reasons divorced dads should always take the high road.When a dad stops being married he doesn’t stop being a dad and a role model.
1. It’s the right thing to do:
When a dad stops being married he doesn’t stop being a dad and a role model. Regardless of what led to the end of a marriage, we always have the opportunity to treat the mother of our children with kindness and consideration.
2. Our kids are smart enough to figure out the other parent’s faults without our coaching:
If the other parent is being unreasonable, or ungracious, that’s something our kids will figure out soon enough. Fostering hostility only hurts our own relationship with our children.
3. Kindness is foundational to healing:
Separation and divorce are always painful, and everyone needs to heal. Our kindness will facilitate our own healing, our kids’ healing, and our former spouse’s healing too.
4. Children learn from our behavior more than words:
Watching the way we deal with stress and challenges teaches our children more clearly than any lecture we could offer about doing the right thing.
5. When we put others ahead of ourselves, everyone wins:
We live in a competitive culture. Winners and losers, and we think we have to be first. “If my ex-spouse looks like a loser then I look like a winner.” Sorry, that’s not going to fly. This may be counterintuitive, but everyone looks good if we make our competition look good. Dad looks good if he makes mom look good- even if they’re divorced. Putting others first is the first step to moving forward ourselves.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your ex and ask, “What can I do to make things easier for you and support you with our kids?”