Seeing daddy love again

The warnings are frightening. Children from broken homes are more likely to end up divorced  – if they get married at all. Nicholas Wolfinger, from the University of Utah and author of the book Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages says,

 “the risk of divorce is 50 percent higher when one spouse comes from a divorced home, and 200 percent higher risk when both of them do.

Estimates show that by the age of eighteen 50% of children will experience a parents’ separation and divorce at least once. If those numbers hold true then with my two kids one them is almost guaranteed to marry a person whose parents split. If that’s the case, we might as well hire family attorneys during the honeymoon.

My children were shockingly young when I divorced and at that time the perceptions of a two-year and nine-month old about daddy’s romantic relationships were irrelevant. I was like James Bond with a license to act however I wanted with whomever I chose. At the time I saw my responsibility as a father as twofold, pay their mother and keep them from their sticking fingers in light sockets and running with knives on my weekends. Thanks to their naps and naivety, I never concerned myself with the need to set a proper example.

•♦•

Eventually, three events would occur that forced me to seriously reevaluate that life view. First, I had experienced a string of relationship disasters that left me emotionally desolate and spiritually bankrupt. Second, my children were at the age they began to unknowingly share small details about their mom and step-dad’s marriage. And third, upon meeting the Queen I realized her children had no immediate example for what a healthy relationship should look like.

When it comes to a marriage and romantic relationships in general, I think there are a few universals we all acknowledge; fidelity, commitment, love, etc. There remains however other attributes each of us differ widely on; honor, faith, spousal duty to name a few. As my kids began sharing stories about their mother’s marriage it soon dawned on me that unless they had another model of what a respectful, honorable, and healthy relationship looked like they’d be destined to imitate whatever they saw. I know exactly where I learned how to love and display affection – my father. A man of few words, years later I would find myself just like him unable, but more often unwilling, to express my true feelings. It would take years of therapy to change that.

•♦•

It has become one of the Queen’s and my most important life missions; to be an example to our kids of what a healthy and loving relationship should look like. I want her son to see a man respect and love his mother, I want my son to watch his dad honor a woman, and I want both of our daughters to learn what to expect from boys by how I love and respect her. I believe it is one – if not the – most important callings I have as a father.

And we know the cards are stacked against us.

As divorced parents neither the Queen nor I can control how our ex’s manage their personal relationships. It isn’t our place to remind everyone that conflict doesn’t need to erupt in screaming matches, cursing, and slamming doors. It’s not for us to suggest how each should speak to their spouses or significant others. And we also know we shouldn’t discredit our ex’s in front of our kids by what we see or hear. All we can do is remain intentional about our own relationship and model for them what we believe is genuine.

Just last week my son and I stopped by the Queen’s to pick something up. While I was there, as I often do, I wanted to leave small love notes around her house as surprises to stumble upon when she cleans her kitchen, puts on makeup, or pulls back the covers for bed. It’s something we’ve both done since day one. After he watched me write notes professing my undying love for her I asked him to help me hide them. I wanted him to be a part of what was happening. When he asked why I was doing all this I explained it was because I love her and I want her to know it when she reads these notes, plus she likes surprises. Within minutes he was anxiously looking for the perfect hiding spot, and while he didn’t give our talk another thought I could tell the message registered.

I am often deliberate about displaying my affection for her in front of her children. I purposefully do and say things when I know they will hear it because I want them to know that, despite what happened to their parents or those of so many of their friends, relationships can and do work.  I want the Queen’s children to understand that their mother is loved completely and I want my kids to see their father sincerely love a woman. And I want them all to look back with fond memories on how their mom and dad loved, honored, and cherished one another when everything around them says it couldn’t be done.

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14 responses to Seeing daddy love again

  1. I like your story and this strong opinion towards your father my friend offers therapy good luck with the love

  2. I love the story about your son helping to hide the notes. While your childhood does play a part in how you behave, I think that we all have the freedom of choice about our own lives when we mature.

    I come from a very dysfunctional home, but I’ve shown my kids something totally opposite. Thank God, I realised that the badness, hurt and crappy lifestyle had to end with this generation – me. I married and have a sound, blissful relationship with my husband.

    My kids live in a nuclear home and I raise them to be decent, Godly people who know how to treat others. I’m not saying I’m perfect (I’m not) or that they will be perfect. I’m saying that the choice was in front of me and I took this one.

    The signs are always there where relationships are concerned. From experience, I know that we sometimes CHOOSE to ignore them. We think we can change people and that little things won’t matter as long as we’re married or as long as we have babies etc.

    It sounds like you’re laying a great foundation for your kids’ future. Good on you for taking the hard way out of the situation you were handed. You could’ve given up, figuring that things were inevitable. Instead, you’re working hard to make the best of what could’ve been a negative situation.

  3. Kimberly

    Again great writing, I just have to say where can I find a guy like you? lol. You have the kind of relationship I want to have the Queen is a very lucky woman that you saw what you could have with her and went with it. My relationship is a strange one and I would love to make it more normal but things are in his hands for now.

  4. T

    I believe my children enjoy spending time with myself and my man because they see how we love each other… and share that love with them.

    Good stuff, you big ole romantic! 🙂

  5. Papa – Author

    Kimberly, the world only needs one of me, and I don’t mean that in a good way…:-)

  6. Papa – Author

    Romantic…I’m still not sure I even know what that means…:-)

  7. Myrrtle

    I have to say that there are a lot of things kids think of when they are in this kind of situation.. But I am sure this can help them especially the parents..

  8. It is so important the children see that loving, healthy relationships are possible. My ex is in a volatile marriage and my husband and I choose to lead by example rather than vocalizing judgments on the household. My daughter already recognizes and communicates the differences between the 2 households and she is only 6. Just as important as children observing healthy relationships, is observing that there are different ways to express love and find happiness in coupledom. My husband’s ex is also married and in a loving relationship; although, the way they express their love and interact with each other is VERY different from their father’s relationship with me. My step-children are able to see that there are multiple ways to live happily in a relationship; their is no magic formula and neither one is better than the other.

  9. My parents modeled a LOVE AFFAIR for 66 years of marriage to ALL who knew them, including me. I wish I could give my kids that…I love my wife but somehow it is so different plus they had to suffer some true horrors from my divorce – obviously, NONE OF WHICH was their fault…

  10. Karyn18

    Thanks for sharing your story.. I know at first it is hard to have a broken family, but as soon as you get by on it, you will realize that it is better to be that way.. No parents fighting with each other in front of their children, you wouldn’t hear any bad mouthing against each other and some other things that it will only hurt children.

  11. Stiphen Hoggards

    Wow! 🙂 Fine writing again. Thanks for it. I am also in a same problem Bruce Sallan. But I am in a fix and can not know what to do now? Please share your experience. I hope that will helpful for me. Thanks. 😆

  12. Papa – Author

    Karyn, I agree. Given the options divorce is better than war.

  13. Heidi19

    For me, i love seeing my father love again. Rather than seeing my parents fighting with each other. Thanks for sharing your story and i;m looking forward to read more from you.

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