There may be times you are unfit to parent – too stressed, tired out, what have you.
My first wife and I separated when our daughter was two. I was quite young but determined that I was going to be the complete father who cooked and did it all. Unfortunately I was a lousy cook, and I remained resentful that my marriage had broken up, for several years after we split.
I felt like I had never signed up to be a fullly responsible parent, half of the time. Also, I was frantically looking for another woman in my life who could help me parent. Looking back I see how unrealistic that was. Had I been more mature, I would have made a greater commitment to my daughter in those first few years when parenting demands so much. Although I wasn’t very grownup in those days, at least I found grownups to help out. I found people my daughter was comfortable with. One was an elderly neighbor who was glad to help out any time. I was very lucky to have her and called on her often when I had the sense I would snap at my daughter or worse, if I didn’t get some assistance.
My mother was willing to help, but at a price. She was critical of me and of my former wife, with her growled out line of: Well, someone must be this child’s advocate, since her parents can‘t get their act together! I deserved that, as I was too young and too self-absorbed to be an effective parent.
Some of you guys reading this are well into your 30’s and less frantically chasing women than I was, so you’ll be in a better position to man up to your responsibilities. But even if you aren’t a 20 something guy like I was, you’ll still need safe, loving backup. That should be one of the first things you arrange after you separate. It will be important to your child’s developing mental and emotional health. Find the support you’ll need from a divorced guys group, from coaching, or therapy to help you quickly make the transition to where you can be more and more involved in your child’s life. There is no substitute for having an actual parent.