Divorced Dads- What’s Your Opinion?

I spend a lot of time discussing the female side of divorce and stepfamily issues.  I’ve talked about my journey as the partner of a divorced dad and I’ve invited conversation from The Mom’s perspective…. among other posts.  And throughout the life of this blog, I’ve gotten some much-appreciated input from men about these topics.

Tonight, I’m thinking about stepfathers… or, if unofficial, Mom’s Partner.  This is a subject that hasn’t been addressed head-on and I’d like to hear what the divorced dads think about the concept of your ex dating and re-coupling.  Based on previous comments, I’m expecting to hear some different answers than many moms would honestly give…

  • What insecurities do you have?
  • Do you question his feelings for your kids?
  • Do you fear for your children’s safety in his care?
  • Do you worry that your kids will be confused by his presence?
  • Does the partner’s presence cause tension between you and your ex?
  • Have you gotten to know him on a personal level?
  • Do you compare yourself to him?
  • Do you feel that he has a “place” behind you?
All input is welcome 🙂
**Update… I’m going to blame Summer for the lack of interest in this one.  But Chopper Papa was on my wavelength and you can find his take on the Double-Dad Situation here.

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  1. My fiancé and I just read your questions. Here are his answers. (For context, his kids are 15 and 20, they have been divorced about five years, and his former wife has had two serious relationships (including one engagement) and is now single.)

    My insecurity about him is that he will treat the kids well.  I want him to be another rational, helpful adult in their lives. It’s OK if his opinions are different than mine, but I want him to care about them and treat them well.  I don’t fear for the kids’ safety because they’re not little and because I’ve asked them and they say he is nice to them.

    I am not concerned that his presence will confuse the kids. 

    His presence causes no conflict between my former wife and me. If anything, she is in a better mood and there is less fighting when she is happier. 

    I know the first one from the local community and we are friendly. I never met the second one. 

    I do not compare myself to them. 

    I do not think about “places.”

    He then added, “I hope I’m not being chauvanistic, but mothers seem to be more worried about this than fathers.” To which we both observed that if a woman marries, does not work, has children, defines herself entirely (or primarily) by her family roles, and then loses those roles in a divorce, she is more likely to feel insecure than someone who also defines himself or herself by other roles (ie professional accomplishments). More women than men seem to stop working when they marry and have kids, so that might explain why more moms than dads feel insecure about the new partner. 

    • Excellent input! Thanks so much.

      I think you’re right about the roles that women define themselves by. If a women identifies herself as a “wife” and “mother”, then finds herself divorced with a stepmom in the picture… Well, then, what/who is she? The frantic acts of self-validation might seem inconvenient to the rest of us, but this is all the more reason to have compassion.

  2. No, men don’t seem bothered by other people’s presence in their children’s lives, typically. But don’t we also have a larger problem with deadbeat dads (ie, dads who simply cease all presence -voluntarily- in their children’s lives) than we do deadbeat moms? I believe there’s probably a correlation in the behaviors.

    • It would be interesting to research the “deadbeat” trend by gender and percentage. I’m sure there are more “deadbeat dads” out there, but there are also a great deal more non-custodial fathers. Since I started mingling in these divorce circles, I’ve certainly heard several deadbeat mom stories too.

      • As have I! But the undercurrent of ‘men are okay with things’ seems to imply that to not be upset/worried is the ‘better’ response (I see this everywhere, not just in this blogpost). My point is that the men who are unconcerned take that to the extreme of abandonment just as the women who are overly concerned take that to the extreme of fighting and drama. So either response can be taken to a bad place.

        • Agreed. Either extreme is ultimately unhealthy.

          A man once told me that he contemplated “abandoning” his children because his ex was so hostile that he thought they could be happier without him around. I think there are lots of different factors that can come into play that will influence the attitudes of either side.

      • That isn’t necessarily true and while statistics can lie it seems that as a percentage of parents who are required to pay child support the amount of women who are considered ‘dead beat’ are the same as men. It’s just that the number of women who pay is dramatically less.

        And I would argue that the right men are bothered by another person’s presence.

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