A while back I wrote about dads who’ve been absent from their kid’s lives for reasons beyond their control. The response was equally surprising as it was depressing, receiving messages from men who’ve lost their relationships with their kids due to several situations of life. I felt that I wasn’t suited to expand on the topic as I was fortunate enough to never have lived this kind of events myself, but as luck would have it, I ran into this wonderful post on No Deadbeat Society: An Army of Fathers who give a sh*t. I think that there was no way that I could best explain what a situation like this meant like a man who lived it himself.
With that I leave you with an open letter to any Dad’s facing custody dispute: From a Father who lost.
Dear Dad soon to be standing in front of a judge for rights to see his children,
This letter is from a man who lost everything. I immaturely acted like a 20 something year old man would to things I didn’t like in my situation. And in the end, I lost everything. Enough time with my children to be able to do simple things like take them to park, or see them off to school on their first day…
Most of what you will read online, especially where there is opportunity for men to openly discuss the court process; you will read and hear that the court systems are extremely biased. That the system is ripping men from their children. While it sometimes seems that is true, you have to understand that it’s quite often the actions of men that cause it. Note; this letter is in no way aimed to speak about or cause debate about the court system. You can form your own opinion about the process, and any bias you feel judges may have in America towards mothers. All I can offer you is passionate advice on how to best situate yourself as you are preparing to face a custody debate.
You need to humble yourself. The truth is that as men, we are raised to be strong. We see it in the news, the media, movies, video games, books, music, the list goes on and on. A man should be able to protect himself and his family, no matter the battle he has to fight. No matter who is on the other side of that battle. Someone hurts one of our family members, we have almost been taught over the years to let them know in whatever way possible that you won’t tolerate that, and they should fear doing it again. What we have to learn is that sometimes, that fight requires you to humble yourself. Not become a victim per say, but accept that sometimes you have to let things go…
Your children must be your first priority. There is absolutely NOTHING more important than them. You have no excuse, there is no situation you can justify anything over them. So if at this point in this letter you are muttering “bullshit” to yourself. Don’t even bother continuing to read. But if you are open to understand continue on.
This isn’t legal advice, if you are seeking that google a family lawyer in your area that represents fathers. Quite often they will have free resources on their websites that provide detailed action plans for fathers seeking custody. But trust me, they will tell you to act similar to how I am, only they will say it’s for purposes of court proceedings, I am telling you this because it is for your mental health and happiness.
My advice is from the heart. From a father who lost.
Your ex has a new man in her life? Let it be….. If he isn’t hurting your children, let it be… You will someday fall in love again and want to have your new wife or girlfriend around your children. Your children’s mother will feel exactly how you are about her new man in the picture.
Let go of your ex. Let go of everything you remember that may have been a great time. Now is a time for you to focus on your mental health and unconditional love for your children.
Your ex speaks down to you? Let it be…. it doesn’t matter. Reality check.
No matter the abuse you may go through, do not react. Find sources of healing, support groups. Learn about meditation. See a counselor. Don’t act out, but don’t keep it bottled in. There are people you can talk to. Just don’t let it be your ex, or your children.
Never act out in any abusive form. Mentally or Physically. No matter how big and bad you think you are. If you can’t control your anger and realize how much that could negatively impact your children if they witnessed it, you will end up in a very dark place.
Embrace and love your children every chance you get.
Never speak negatively of their mother in front of them. No matter what they repeat to you that may have come from her mouth. Respectively address it via some sort of correspondence with her and ask her to correct it with your children. Do your best to articulate to your children that it isn’t true, but never call her a liar. Keep their happiness and wellbeing a priority throughout these kinds of conversations.
If you have to pay child support. Who cares. Pay it. Is not paying a few hundred bucks a month worth risking seeing your child at all because of your reaction to having to pay it? If it is…
Create goals for yourself that better your life. Career goals, health goals. Focus on becoming the best person you can be.
If you have ever acted towards your ex in a way that if a man acted that way towards your sister or mother you would have been extremely upset and confronted them; seek help. There is an underlying issue there, not only for the courts, but for yourself.
Do not claim victim. Immediately humble yourself and start the processing of obtaining peace and happiness.
Her new boyfriend threatened to beat you up? You know you could beat the hell out of him… Don’t. There are other means to addressing this that set a much better “I will not tolerate this kind of bullshit in my children’s lives” message to her.
Don’t fake being a good person to prove to the courts that you are a loving father. Truly become a good person, develop the skills necessary to make yourself such a good person that it makes you a happy person. That there is nothing false about the man you have become. You are stronger for it, not weaker.
Look at this process optimistically. This is your opportunity to seek a better future. For yourself, and for your children.
People say that if you repeat something enough times you will believe it as truth. Let your actions do this as well. Make doing good deeds a regular part of your routine, even if it’s not in front of your children. (hold the door open for people, give to charity if you can, volunteer, help people, etc…)
It truly takes a village to raise a child, be good to all of the people you love. That love will be returned 10 fold in ways you could never imagine. They will appreciate your struggle and they will provide your children with an overwhelming amount of love.
Never make a choice in your life that could negatively impact your kids. Don’t do it. There is no but, what if, or any excuses acceptable here… You met a sexy chick at the bar on your weekend off who frequently uses drugs and you want to start dating her? Don’t… You’re invited out with some boys you used to hang out with who you regularly used to get in bar fights with? Don’t go. You drink and drive and never caught? Stop it… You think hanging out with “tough guys makes you look cool”. Get over yourself. Grow up.
The basic impulses no longer apply to you. You aren’t a man. You are a father. It’s a different breed of man. It requires a depth you never had before.
Never make an impulsive decision of any kind. Weigh out all the negatives and positives and then form your opinion and act. Do this for everything, even minor decisions like where you are going to go for dinner. Do this so much that it becomes a regular part of your decision making process.
Humbling yourself his one of the most difficult things a man can do. Some women are horrible people, just as men are. Some judges will look down on you. Midst all of the chaos that is a custody dispute you have to humble yourself. You need to shift your focus to being the best person you can be. It took me years to realize this, and quite frankly it was too late.
I never want a man to feel what I feel now.
Do it for your kids.
A Father who lost, and learned the hardest lesson in life he ever learned.