As my first entry on The Dad Network Blog, I thought I’d just introduce myself and tell you all a little bit about me and what interests me and makes me tick as a dad.
I’m nearly 45, crikey it only seems like 10 minutes since I was a 19 year old Fresher at university just starting out on life. And there are many days I still feel like I am only just starting out. Especially when it comes to being a dad.
Unfortunately, I’m a divorced dad of 3 little angels (remember the devil was once an angel) so my ex wife and I parent as separated parents. The children; who are 7, 5 and almost 3, spend half their time with me. My ex wife and I never refer to ourselves as single parents, we co-parent and, on the whole do it pretty well if I do say so myself.
This hasn’t come about easily though. We still live in a society which, for all its advances in terms of equality of the sexes, treats men as second class citizens when it comes to parenting and seemingly even more so when you are separated. One only has to look at The Dad Network campaign to improve baby changing facilities for fathers to realise we still have a long way to go.
When parents separate society seems to think that the mother will and should do the lions share of the caring, and in the vast majority of cases this seems to be the norm. But woe betide any father who wants equal custody. He will be made to jump through hoops to get this, despite the fact that in the eyes of the law we should have equal rights and equal responsibilities when it comes to our children. I’ve been told on many an occasion that children are “better off with their mother”!
When asked why I have yet to receive an answer better than “just because”.
When I ask what it is mothers can do that fathers can’t do just as well I still haven’t had a decent answer. All I can think of is breast feeding and actually giving birth. Apart from these two activities that we are biologically incapable of achieving then there is nothing. They don’t love our children any better or more than we do, we can comfort our upset children just as well as any mother, we can dress them and take care of their daily needs just as well. Granted, I’m not great at putting in bobbles and hair clips but that’s just practice. In many cases, I’d say we can do a better job than the mothers.
I always feel that I’m being judged by people when I’m out and about with all 3 of the children. The patronising comments; “Oh you’ve got your hands full”, “Don’t often see a dad with his children on holiday.” And other comments that I doubt are often heard by mothers out and about with their cherubs.
Financially we are more often than not penalised, my ex wife works 16 hours a week and claims benefits and tax credits to help her finaincially. With the money I give her, agreed without the need for the CSA to get involved, she is on the equivalent of approximateky £42,000 a year. I work 6 days a week and have the children half the time and receive nothing! Nothing equal about that.
I’m a great believer that when a couple separate the assumption should be that care of the children is shared equally; co-parenting, unless the couple don’t want that. However, it should be the couple deciding that, not the mother dictating what will happen and when. The same with any entitlements to benefits, tax credits etc. If not shared equally, they should be shared in a fair and equitable way.
I absolutely adore my children and, despite my rantings above, have a very good relationship with my ex wife (most of the time). I just don’t think we as dads should feel we have to prove anything or fight for what is fair.
In future posts I’ll tell you all about my adventures as a separated parent, the joys of holidaying alone with 3 young children and may even tell you about my daughters unbelievable possesiveness when it comes to her daddy.
Oh and I may throw in some advice from my “job” as a Physio and Personal Trainer.
Take care and carry on being awesome dads.