The Stress of a Divorce can make you become a very poor Father. But it doesn’t have to be like that………

It’s strange when we think of the options in our behaviour when we go through stressful situations, like a divorce. We can end up doing things that are plainly wrong and yet we cannot see it, because we are so engrossed in the situation. Nearly always the people who get really damaged, are the children.

Recently I learnt of a situation concerning a couple who were going through quite an acrimonious divorce. Who was at fault is irrelevant, what is important is the behaviour of the parents during the whole process of the divorce proceedings. In particular, the father, which is why I want to talk about it on this Blog.

The wife realised she was first and foremost the mother to her children, and subjugated her position and stance to not involve the children in the situation as much as possible. In other words, she did all she could to protect her children from the acrimony of the divorce proceedings. But the husband undermined this by committing the cardinal sin of using his children as pawns and trying to turn them against their mother. In the short term this succeeded, but in the long term this will cause irreparable damage to his integrity and relationship with his children. But he could not see this.

At every opportunity he ‘bad mouthed’ the mother to the children, and tried to undermine and break up the relationship between them. The mother on the other hand, always remained dignified and did not do the same. This was very selfless and perceptive of the mother, because at all times, she acted in the best interests of the children, even to the point of financial loss to herself. She realised that one day when the children were older and understood the situation fully, they would make up their own minds.

It is at that point in the future, the consequences of the father’s behaviour will really become apparent to the children and to himself. And this is the key message…..

The husband behaved as a very poor father indeed in this instance and showed his true character and colours to his children. Their mother will always be their mother and by trying to undermine her, he has damaged severely his own relationship with his children. Because he became so wrapped up in the divorce proceedings, he could not see that, and therefore he forgot his principal role. Namely to protect his children, as much as possible, from the inevitable emotional trauma that they were going through. He was still their father, and they were not just pawns in the proverbial ‘game of chess’……………………………………………




Have you ever wondered why your child behaves in a particular way? The answer is quite simple…………..

This is a perennial question that every parent asks himself from time to time. How many times have you heard yourself say, “why does he behave like that?”. The answer is of course not always simple and in many cases quite complex, however there is very often an underlying reason, which crops up time and time again.

Your child reflects you totally, particularly in the early years, when you and your partner are his principle sources of reference. Your child is what you make him. If he sees you behave in a specific circumstance, or react to a particular situation, he will interpret this as the appropriate way to respond. And if he sees you do this on multiple occasions, for him, this will become learned behaviour and the correct way to react because he has witnessed you do this.

So, this should make you doubly careful in what you do in front of your child. If you shout in an aggressive manner if something annoys you, he will do the same. If however you respond calmly and in a considered way, he will also do this.

You can stage your own experiment with your own child at home. Create a specific situation in view of your child, together with your partner, and then stage your reaction to it. Do this several times over a couple of days. Then do it again in front of your child and let him react to it before you say anything. You will be amazed by his reaction…………..

All of this to say, that your child will copy you completely, and you need to be his role model. Your child will reflect you and your partner’s behaviour. So you will end up answering your own rhetorical question about why your child behaves like that. Of course once he goes to school and starts mixing regularly with other children his points of reference will widen…………………but you and your partner still remain the key influencer in his life, as of course it should be.


How important are you as a Role Model for your child?

Sometimes you can forget how important you are as a positive Role Model for your child, and just take this vital part of the Father child dynamic for granted. Your child will observe and copy everything you do, all the time, even if you are not aware he is doing it. Boys particularly will observe very closely what you as their father are doing.

As the joint most important Role Model in your child’s life, you have a huge responsibility to lead by example, however difficult it appears to be at times. The way you behave will be considered as normal and acceptable behaviour by your child. If you are considerate and calm, your child will be. If you are aggressive and loud, you child will also be like that. The question is always, ‘what constitutes a good Role Model for your child’?

Remember at all times, ‘your children are what you make them’. Whatever you are doing or saying you must always keep this in mind. Your child will reflect how you are towards them and others on a day to day basis. The following tips on being a good Role Model are fairly obvious, and certainly not meant as a lecture, but only as an ‘aide memoire’ and is also certainly not an exhaustive list. The goal is simply to help you improve the quality of your child’s life going forward as they pass through childhood.

Work hard at what you do (paid or unpaid)

Be nice to people, even if they irritate you

Be polite and kind to everyone you come across in life

Be tolerant of other people’s differences with you

Always help others if you are able to

Never be aggressive, nasty or react violently

Be a good citizen and respect the laws of the country

Be a good listener and give your time to people you meet

If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, then don’t say it at all

They all seem fairly obvious, but in the heat of the moment, we often forget. Your children look to you as their beacon and you must truly lead by example.