“Do divorced dads make better fathers?”
You bet! Well, at least according to CBS' “The Early Show.”
The report featured Peter Giles, a father who is thankful for a recent separation because it made him the father he always wanted to be. “Before the divorce I was the financial provider. After the divorce, I was a nurturer, and I paid attention to my children,” he said, apparently confusing getting divorced with becoming a woman.
Described as “an unexpected benefit to splitting up,” marriage was painted by host Maggie Rodriguez as having numerous positives for fathers as well as the children. “The fathers may actually be getting better at parenting as a result.” She explained.
As for Giles, the piece explained that his divorce “helped this dad cultivate a better relationship with his children” during “scheduled visits [where he] spends more quality time with his kids.”
So how are men turning into “nurturers?” Simple: “With the rise in joint custody, many men are finding that without the stress of a failed marriage, they can become more fully involved with their children. In fact, a noted researcher finds more than 20 percent improved as parents.”
No mention of parental performance of the other 80% of divorced dads.
To Giles, his divorce was a blessing. “The divorce has given me an opportunity to define parenting on my own terms,” he said. “I may be a different type of parent than my ex-wife, but I do feel that we're both exceptional parents, even after the divorce.”
Some may thought that the wrenching and painful process of divorce was about the one or both of the couple seeking happiness elsewhere. But really, “the kids are the ones that benefit from all of this,” explained Giles. “They get 100 percent of my attention, 100 percent of their stepmom's attention, and 100 percent of their mother's. It's a win, win, win.”
So, according to Giles, being married and living in the same house as their children actually prohibits fathers from giving “100 percent” of their attention. The real key to success is moving out and scheduling times to meet with your children. It's only then that the family learns they shouldn't “throw dad away. Dad is an important parent. They learn, gee, I can do this. This works.”
Rodriguez and “Divorce Expert” Jill Brooke made sure to point out there are obstacles for divorced men hoping to become SuperDad.
“According to one study, 77 percent of divorced men experience interference with their scheduled visitations,” explained Rodriguez. But there is a solution: Technology. WonderDads are becoming “Facebook friends” with their children. Through the networking tool, fathers can teach their children valuable lessons on how to grow up with responsibility and morals; or maybe just how to comment on a picture.
These nurturing dads face opposition from “resentful moms.”
“I can see resentful ex-wives for a number of reasons” reflected Rodriguez, “Number one, a woman might say, why didn't he cook and clean and do chores when he was with me? And the other thing is why isn't he following my rules when I send the kid over to his house?”
“The hardest thing for many mothers to understand and let go of is it's not only their child. It's also the father's child.” The worst possible effect divorce can have? According to Brooke, too much ice cream.
“All the mothers that I counsel all the time admit later on, they say, initially they were resistant because, you want to know what, it's coming from a loving place. They just want to protect their children. Because so many say I send my backpack off with new clothes, toothbrush, and many restrictions, you know, instructions, and they come back and they've eaten ice cream all the time or that nothing has been washed. But you know what? You have to just let go of that and realize that they're doing different things and the child is still a part of both of you.”
The bad rap divorce received is becoming passé. “Well I think the stars have aligned.” Mused Brooke. “We're in a culture where divorce is now more the norm, and we've learned really important lessons. First of all, the culture by being more kid-centric it means more fathers got involved and they had early bonding. And then when the divorce happened, they said, I'm really attached to this child, and I want to have more time with them than, let's say, a generation ago.”
“And it's not going to mess up the child because he or she is being parented in two different ways” added Rodriguez.
And as for our father of the year: “Before, peter was the guy who brought home the bacon. Now he's cooking it too. That's the most satisfying outcome of all.”