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Ask the Divorced Guy!
by Dean Hughson
Title: Like a Cow Without a Cowbell
Men are meant to be fathers. I have known a few who chose not to have
children. I always wondered how they could do that. The few who I knew
who made that decision seemed to be trying to stop a long family history
that seemed to not be stopping by itself.
One of my friends, Chris, had several generation of schizophrenics in
his family. When his father started manifesting the disease, he
immediately went and checked about having himself rendered sterile (he
used the term neutered).. We talked at length about it. He told me
"Look, I realize that probably I will be raving at the moon like my
father and my grandfather. I can't pass that on to my kids." Later,
though he decided that the need to have kids was larger than his need to
stop a bad family history. He had faith that generations from now they
will find a cure for his family mental illness. His son, his link to
eternity, means a lot to him now and there is no more talk about the link
that he fears. Hope is eternal.
I have known some men who married women who didn't want to have
children. They wanted to live lifestyles in lofts or penthouses in New
York and didn't want the baggage that children brought. They wanted to
spend their entire lives doing what they wanted, when they wanted and not
have to worry about the children. I have gay friends who choose not to
have kids. The interesting thing is that most of these people who I knew
in this category ended up having dogs or cats that they were as
attentive to as children. Must mean that we have a need to parent.
For those of us fathers who had our parenting stunted by divorce, in the
beginning we are somewhat disoriented. Like a Spanish movie with
subtitles I once watched, we can best be described as cows without
cowbells for a while. The gift of children which we had, we learn, is
sometimes a temporary gift. Perhaps for all of us fathers parenthood is
a temporary gift. As your kids get older you realize that the doctor
lied when they handed you your child---it wasn't really yours--it was
just a temporary loan until they get old enough to do their own thing.
We as men still have a role but it is a different one. I sort of saw
that the other day with my 3 kids at a wedding dinner--I looked into
their eyes and realized that they sort of have their own lives--they are
now wandering farther from the herd. The cowbell that I gave them as
babies still works--if they need me they just need to ring it and I will
be there but now the bell rings on their own necks and not necessarily
in tune with mine.
Like an old bull, I sit at the top of the pasture and watch what I have
created and think "What a wonderful world it is indeed". I still
remember my kids as babies but that is a memory. For you see, they are
getting older and so am I. What a wonderful world it is indeed. I have
been given the gift of being a parent for a while and as imperfect as it
has been and as I am, I am ok with it all.
Dean Hughson, called the Dear Abby of Divorced Dads by the KC Star, is the founder of the DIVORCE HOMEPAGE. He has talked to thousands of people contemplating divorce, going through divorce, or the chaos afterwards and gives referrals and advice. He resides in Nevada, the state with the highest divorce rate in the US.
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