Unfortunately, sole custody means, by definition, that one parent has lost custody. Being an un-empowered parent becomes painful, and absence often becomes easier than dealing with the visitation schedule of legal access to your children.
Yes, there are parents who don’t care to give or nurture, but often it is the loss of normal access to their children that makes absentee parents. The custodial parent may suffer from the seemingly unending responsibility for the children, whereas the non-custodial parent suffers from feeling cut out of the children’s lives.
The custodial parent has the undeniable advantage of being the decision-maker, whereas the non-custodial parent has the advantage of more free time. Each is jealous of the other’s advantages and much less aware of his own.
If there’s a great deal of anger, distrust, and disapproval between the parents, it may be difficult for the one with custody to encourage the involvement of the other. But children do have a right to know and love both parents, and in all but the most unusual of circumstances, the non-custodial parent has a right to see and spend time with the kids.
Even when a legal custody agreement mandates a certain amount of visiting time, the non-custodial parent too often becomes discouraged because of the discomfort of “visiting” time and having to deal with the other parent and their own lack of control. They often gradually fade out of their children’s lives.
Men whose wives initiate divorce proceedings often stop seeing their children. This may occur for just a few months or it may continue over the years. Sometimes this withdrawal is out of anger at the wife or just results from hurt and grief. A man in this situation can reason that if he is unwanted by his wife, he is unwanted or unneeded by his children.
The primary caretaker parent can help make contact easier and encourage regular contact with the children, even though it takes extra effort if a lot of anger is still present. It is a time when you must separate your spousal relationship from your parenting relationship. This is hard, but it is possible. You must try not to “direct” your spouse’s parenting patterns and concentrate your efforts on smoothing access.
Men who have been competent, involved fathers B.D. (Before Divorce) can and should continue their fathering afterward. One study indicates that fathers who stay connected during the first year of a divorce stay involved.
Some women are often glad when their children don’t see too much of Dad, because they don’t want him to be a significant role model. But lack of contact and familiarity with the other parent is not a guarantee that your child will be free of bad habits or poor traits exemplified by your ex.
A family today is defined more by its common history than by its blood tie. Deny a parent sharing in that history of your children’s growing up and he or she won’t feel-or act-much like a parent.
It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel
About The Other Parent … It Only Matters How You Act.
Excerpted from : Vicki Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents