The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

May 22, 2007

Breaking Up is Hard to Do (If Kids are Involved)

There was a Statistics Canada report released this week about marriage breakups. I've taken a few days to even decide whether I wanted to open up this can of worms and blog about it.

I've decided I'm going to, but not to focus so much directly on its main finding: that men are more likely to suffer depression following a marriage breakup than women.

Who can know that? I expect that people, male or female, who are told by their partner that the marriage is over, are the ones most devastated by it. What other conclusion could there be?

Were they assuming that marriage breakups are always by mutual agreement? That there is no dumper and no dumpee? I think there usually is a dumper and dumpee. That's life. Shit happens.

If the study said that more women break up more marriages than men, by my logic, the findings would then stand to reason -- obviously more men, abandoned by their wives, would be depressed.

But the study didn't say that. It just said that men were more likely to be devastated by a marriage breakup than women. So I don't know what to do with that.

What I DO want to talk about here is the devastation I felt when I could no longer see my kids on a daily basis, another part of the study that was minimized in the Canadian Press story I found on the Web.

All it said was that this was a significant and less acknowledge factor for men in a marriage breakup: that aside from the wife and whatever they may feel about her, they miss their kids.

First, let me explain without going into sordid details: My ex ended our marriage. I'm glad now and have been for a long time. I've moved on, except for when it comes to our kids.

I didn't see my daughter bring home her first boyfriend. I wasn't there when she had her first period (I apologize, but I would have wanted to be there for that and to help however I could).

I could not be there to be the male influence I wanted my son to have on a daily basis. What did I miss with both of them? How much don't I know right now that I would have known?

My kids have lived with their mom for seven or so years now. I have my kids every second weekend but I talk to them quite a bit more often than that and see them more often.

They are beautiful young people, my kids.


They've grown a whole bunch since these pictures above were taken. My daughter's just finished her first year university and has my car tonight and will have it tomorrow night.
She is so strong and independent...but she still doesn't escape my wrath at times when she does something goofy.
My son struggles some in school and he needs reality checks from me fairly often and a kick in the butt from time to time, but he's a popular kid with a big heart and lofty goals.
This picture was from about three summers ago. Now my son towers over my daughter (she's barely 5 feet) and he's almost as tall as me.
I've done everything I could to try to stay in their lives and be a dad, and I think things have turned out about as well as they could given the circumstances that their parents are divorced.
It's hard, sometimes, to accept what has happened, still, from the perspective of my kids.
I get shivers sometimes when I hear the term "deadbeat dad" and I know that not all dads from broken marriages are "deadbeats" in that way. I know many are. But not all.
My buddy, Homo Escapeons, is the farthest thing from a Deadbeat Dad you could ever know. My brother in Ottawa, Doug, is the most caring father you could or would ever see.
In my most negative moments, I think of how I'm coughing up huge child support payments to a woman who initiated the end to our marriage and who takes my kids to Disneyland and other places.
On my buck, while I sit in my apartment. All I can do is hope my kids see the longing I have for them to be happy, and to do everything in my power to make that happen.
Just by being a dad, even if not a full-time, live-in dad.

Men more prone to depression after a divorce, study finds
TORONTO (CP) - The stereotype might be that a man relishes trading his wife for a fast car or a younger woman, but a new study finds that men appear to take separation harder than women.

While both men and women whose marriages have dissolved have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouses, a Statistics Canada study found that men who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report an episode of depression compared with men who remained married.

Women who had undergone marital breakups were 3.5 times more likely to have had bouts of depression than their counterparts who were still in relationships.

The survey found that 12 per cent of people who were no longer in a relationship reported a new episode of depression, while just three per cent of those who remained in a relationship had suffered new depression.

Michelle Rotermann, the author of the study, said she was surprised, and also not surprised, by the results.

"On the one hand we know depression in general tends to be more common among women, but there is also a lot of evidence that shows that men have fewer social supports and social support does seem to play a role," she said.

"Perhaps one of the reasons why men are more at risk of experiencing subsequent depression is because one of their main sources of social support is their partner, their spouse, and now she is no longer there," said Rotermann, an analyst at Statistics Canada.

Nineteen per cent of men who were no longer with their spouse found a decline in social support, while only six per cent of men who remained in a relationship found a drop. Among women the proportions were 11 per cent for those no longer in a relationship and five for those who were.

Jenni Tipper, a research associate with the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, said "typically women are much better at building and maintaining social supports, which isn't often the case for men."

After a breakup, women tended to live in households with an income ranking far below that of their male counterparts. In fact, nearly 30 per cent of recently divorced or separated men actually experienced an improvement in the ranking of their adjusted household income, the study reported.

The study found that 34 per cent of men and three per cent of women were residing with at least one less child after the breakdown of their relationship.

Tipper said the study is a good reminder that the breakdown of a marriage is an extremely challenging transition for everybody involved.

"We sometimes tend to think that it's the woman who bears the brunt of a divorce outcome. And there is no question that women experience higher levels of economic strife," Tipper said.
"What we tend to forget in many instances, for the men in particular, they see children all but removed from their lives, which is a huge impact on your life."

25 comments:

  1. Don't know what to say about the 'depression study'. I've heard that too, but I don't buy into the male versus female stereotypical garbage that's out there. I think it's tough on everyone ... even the dumper (unless they're totally heartless).

    But as far as your kids ... well, they're very lucky to have a father who cares so much.

    I don't have kids so won't even pretend that I know what it's like to be seperated from them most days. But I hope you take some comfort in knowing that you ARE making a difference to them, whether your kids know it yet or not.

    All the best ....

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  2. After reading this, for once I was lost for words. I didn't know what to say.

    You are a caring dad. It comes out very strongly when you write about your children. Not that you need any endorsements from any of us.

    Ok, you are not there with them for each single moment. But they know you would always be there for them. That is important.

    One has to move on. It is inevitable. Although not for those things which matter most in life....children. You said it yourself.

    You love and care would always hold you and your children together.

    well....


    NEXT TIME WRITE ABOUT SPORTS!

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  3. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I wish my son's father had cared about him half as much as you so obviously care for your children.

    I have to think they are aware of your deep love for them; it's apparent in everything you say and do. Even teenagers can't have missed that. ;-)

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  4. I believe that break-ups are harder on men than women for the same reason that married men live longer than unmarried ones. Women are caretakers and when that caretaking is gone men get depressed. Women feel free.

    My situation is different than that, and I can bet that there are any number of situations where the man is the caretaker. However! As a general rule that is not the case.

    I'm glad you get to see your kids pretty often, even if it's not as much as you'd like. I do know how that feels and I'll tell you someday how that happened.

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  5. Bibi:

    I do take that comfort. Thanks!

    Gautami:

    Thanks, those are solid words. And for my next post, I think I'll blog about jai alai! Or cricket!

    Laurie:

    :-)

    Thanks, you. I think they know.

    Shelley:

    Ooh, I initially felt a sting from that, and I think it's probably very true in a lot of cases.

    I'm glad you didn't make it a sweeping generality. :-)

    I'll look forward to that someday when you'll tell me how it happened.

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  6. First, thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life.

    Being a great parent is relative, i think. Your children are lucky to have you for a father. Some fathers ignore their children when they see them everyday. I'd take quality over quantity anyday.

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  7. I guess i am not qualified to comment, being neither a father or a divorcee. I couldnt imagine my life without both parents.

    If something ever happened with my mum or dad, i would want to see both as much as possible. Im 25 and still call my folks a couple of times a week, i go on adventures with dad and trade books with mum.

    From the way you portray your kids you are anything but a dead beat dad. You have so much love for them, and it shows in your writing.

    I wonder how much they got paid for the study, to point out a father would miss his kids and guys that get dumped are going to hurt... Stating the obvious must pay well.

    Hang in there WW:) you are a good man.

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  8. Menchie:

    What a beautiful comment to make. Thank you. I deeply value what you have said.

    Aidan:

    Hey Mate!

    First, I have no doubt that you are going to make a spectacular father. It doesn't require qualifications, just emotional intelligence and caring.

    And that Stace will make a beautiful, caring mother.

    My mom and dad are also split, and I see them both and love them both. They're beautiful people.

    But let me say...this is not about me hanging in there. I love the situation now, even though I don't see my kids as much as I'd want.

    I'm fine with my kids, because I accept this is the way it is. I'm a better dad now than I was before when I was in a dysfunctional marriage.

    What I was trying to express in this post was the helplessness and exclusion from their daily lives I felt in not seeing my kids all the time.

    But we've adjusted. My kids know who I am and what I give them much more now. So it's all good.

    :-)

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  9. From what I've read, here and on HE's blog, you're one of the best dads ever. I think your obvious love and support go some way towards making up for the infrequency of contact with your kids. By the way, have you seen Mrs Doubtfire?

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  10. dude- clearly they didn't speak to enough people, because your views- exceptionally well put in this post- are not the only ones like it i've heard. i think you are an incredible father to two fantastic children and they are truly blessed to have you as their own.

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  11. Incredibly touching revelation.
    Of course you and I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to get all the pieces to fit into this puzzle.

    Guilt is a big bag of bricks, all you gotta do is put it down. Easy for me to say, it took me atleast a decade to feel semi-normal.
    Who knew?

    Look, you've gone the extra mile and there isn't much more that you can do. Trust me, you are closer to your kids than most so called Dads.

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  12. Stace:

    Thanks, girl. I have seen Mrs. Doubtfire several times and I hope my actions make up for the lack of time with my kids...

    Angel:

    Surveys like this are usually faulty in one way or another, but Stats Canada ones are often pretty good.

    Thanks...

    HE:

    Thanks. The guilt thing isn't me feeling bad about what I'm doing or not doing, it's about being a party to a breakup the kids have no part of or control over...

    ...And trying to figure out how to overcome that the best way possible given the lack of time.

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  13. I'm late in on this one but can I say that as a child of divorced parents and a divorcee the most important thing you can give your kids is the knowledge that it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them.

    I didn't see that much of my dad during my teenage years, less than you see yours, but I'm closest to him and I never think of the time apart at all, only the good times together.
    I think you're a great father.

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  14. Ziggi:

    You're never too late for my party.

    You're so right about making sure the kids know none of this was their fault.

    I did a lot of reading when it was all happening and after it happened, and it's a point I made repeatedly with both of my kids.

    I'm so glad you're close to your dad despite the separation from him after the divorce.

    It makes my heart warm. :-)

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  15. The strength your children have and their well-rounded personalities are the product of the care you give them and your involvement in their lives. I have no doubt about this. I have no doubt that they would be entirely different kids if you were a "deadbeat dad". They are very fortunate to have you, but you're also very fortunate to have them and I love that you express that on a regular basis. The love you have for those children is truly warming and inspiring. I wish every man would be as caring.

    As far as the divorced men/depression article goes, my first thought was that more divorced men are depressed than divorced women because women are more likely to initiate the divorce when things aren't going well; whereas men are more likely to live with the status quo. I'm just talking in general here; I know there are so many different scenarios out there.

    The stuff in the article about social support makes perfect sense too, as does shelley's comment about women being the primary caregiver in most relationships. It really impacts everyone involved - even extended family and friends to some extent, and I think the outcome depends on how the couple handle things.

    Maturity too often seems to go out the window during the process and people do things out of anger and spite - that's never good for anyone involved.

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  16. Anna:

    Thanks for your comments about me and my kids...and for your words of wisdom about this issue in general.

    The picture that's often painted is of the husband finding a young, hot woman and leaving the wife behind with the kids and all the payments and abandoning all of them for a sportscar and sex.

    I know that happens, but I don't know how prevalent it really is, and that's all I wanted to say here.

    I think you're probably very true with your statement about the man sticking with the status quo in a less than happy marriage and the woman initiating the breakup.

    All of the rest...very sensible thoughts. :-)

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  17. ww-the findings of that research don't suprise me. I cannot even imagine the grief that a man would go through when confronted with the reality that they are no longer going to be able to live under the same roof with his children on a daily basis. My ex-husband became quite depressed. I made it as easy for him as was possible -that he could come and visit whenever he wanted to and also made sure that as far as child support goes, the payment doesn't come directly out of his wages into my bank account -the amount might be dictated by the Child Support Agency, but I wanted him to feel that he still had control of his finances and that he can pay it himself - even if it means he gets a bit behind with the payments.Just because I don't want to be with him doesn't mean that I want him to be miserable or take him for every cent.

    We live in a world where women still do the bulk of the housework and the general organising of daily life -no wonder men feel depressed when its all over - the carpet has been pulled out from under their feet.Everything is gone all at once.The love, the children,finances. What a mess.

    It's a pity you've had to miss all those milestones.You have done fantastically, mate.

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  18. Lee:

    I guess every split/divorce has its own set of dynamics, but it sounds like you showed decency and compassion to your ex.

    And yes, despite whatever those circumstances were, the fact remains: everything's gone all at once.

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  19. Anonymous5:10 PM

    You always sound like a wonderful father to me-One who is interested and one who cares.

    Laura

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  20. Laura:

    Thanks. All anyone can do is care. That's where the try comes from.

    :-)

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  21. Hi, I found your blog when I was leaving a comment for Gautami on her page and you had just left one for her right above mine. So I clicked on your name to see your blog. I was really moved by your post and by the photos of you and your kids. And I am so sorry you haven't been able to see them on a daily basis -- I can feel/hear the pain of that in your writing. But I bet they can feel your love for them every day. Take care.

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  22. Clare:

    Thank you for touching me with your presence and with your comments. Both have made me smile and feel warm.

    I see you're a dog lover...I'll visit again and comment, but your dog's name is Moose?

    Again, thanks for dropping by. :-)

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  23. This is a very eye-opening post, full of statistics and logic to back up the heartbreak. I can't even imagine how hard it must be on all involved, but you are very brave to write about it. Your kids are lucky to have you as a dad; there are many who could learn from you.

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  24. WW, I'm late here too, but I wanted to comment on your post. I was the one that ended my marriage (the dumpER). I had my kids most of the time after the divorce and I still missed them when they were with their dad every other weekend. What I missed most of all was the feeling of the four of us being a family and doing things together. I still kind of miss that feeling.

    You are a great DAD and even though you feel that you missed important parts of your kids' lives, you were there for them and they know it. They are very lucky!

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  25. Andrea:

    :-) Thanks...

    Carm:

    DumpER or DumpEE, you're right, the loss of the "family" feeling is the real ugly part.

    And the kids have no say in the matter even though they have no part in it.

    Thankfully, kids are super resilient and I don't think they suffer too much if both parents put them first.

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