expert online series

Journalist Jack Feuer
on Advice for Divorced Dads






Current Time: Sun Dec 14 16:13:55 EST 1997

MsgId: jcafe(1)
Date: Fri Dec 5 05:01:35 EST 1997
From:
At: 168.100.204.58

Stay tuned for the upcoming chat on Advice for Divorced Dads this Tuesday at Noon ET --the Divorce Central Staff
MsgId: jcafe(2)
Date: Fri Dec 5 09:08:37 EST 1997
From:
At: 164.58.214.15

why divoree?

MsgId: jcafe(3)
Date: Fri Dec 5 20:19:11 EST 1997
From:
At: 209.86.20.164


MsgId: jcafe(4)
Date: Fri Dec 5 20:45:25 EST 1997
From:
At: 207.108.178.53


MsgId: jcafe(5)
Date: Mon Dec 8 17:59:19 EST 1997
From:
At: 205.173.93.35

has anyone handled their own limited divorce?

MsgId: jcafe(6)
Date: Mon Dec 8 18:24:52 EST 1997
From:
At: 205.173.93.35

ANYONE OUT THERE?


MARY

MsgId: jcafe(7)
Date: Tue Dec 9 10:04:23 EST 1997
From:
At: 199.34.138.3

Help!!! Tomorrow I will be going to court to be told by the Judge that my Ex is NOT required to pay 4 years back child support, (really 10 years), or any current support, because he lived in another state when I filed for divorce. Instead of just paying the money he owes, he bought a lawyer & found a loophole in the system. Can anyone help???? Mo
MsgId: jcafe(8)
Date: Tue Dec 9 11:47:08 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

At 12:00 noon Eastern Time, this room will host today's Expert Online Show, with author Jack Feuer. His topic is "Do's and Don'ts for Divorced Dads." Please join us whether you're a mom or a dad.
MsgId: jcafe(9)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:08:07 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Wecome, everyone to Expert Online. Today, Jack Feuer, author of "Good Men," will discuss "Do's and Don'ts for Divorced Dads." Welcome, Jack. Divorced Dads are often in a tough position if they're the non-custodial parent, since their bonds with their children are not forged through daily contact. How can these Dads overcome the obstacle of not being physically present every day, if they are the non-custodial parent?
MsgId: jcafe(10)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:10:32 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

There are a lot of tricks you can use to stay close to your child. Put a phone line in his or her room. Send them photos of your time together. Plant a flower or plant in their garden when they are with you, and when it blooms, send it to them...
MsgId: jcafe(11)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:11:11 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

If you are close enough, you should try to coach your child's youth sports team. Be the first alternative to baby-sit, and so on./ga
MsgId: jcafe(12)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:14:30 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Many men, who have asked for joint custody or sole custody, but lose, feel that they are no longer a part of the family. How can these men become more a regular part of their child's life? What I mean is, is custody the determining factor in whether or not someone is an active parent?
MsgId: jcafe(13)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:15:55 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Custody is NOT the determining factor. There are two major factors that determine how a child grows up: the amount of unconditional love, and whether there is an adult to serve as a guide. If children get those things, it does not matter where they live./ga
MsgId: jcafe(14)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:18:14 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Some women have written to Divorce Central saying that now that their ex-spouse is no longer living with the children, he is actually spending more "quality time" with the kids. How does this work, and why is it so?
MsgId: jcafe(15)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:19:39 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

That is very common. It happens because when you are in a nuclear family, you put off things you want to do because you have time. It is common for non-custodial Dads to say they have become better parents./ga
MsgId: jcafe(16)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:22:04 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

We've all heard about "Disneyland Dads." Can you explain what this means and tell us your thoughts about "Disneyland Dads" and how Dads ought to spend their precious time with their children?
MsgId: jcafe(17)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:23:46 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Disneyland Dads refers to the tendancy of non-custodial dads to make every second special. They take them places. They buy them things. They make the time into one big playtime. This is one of my five big don'ts. Children want everything to be normal again, and you must establish a normal post-divorce life with your child./ga
MsgId: jcafe(18)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:26:44 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Along these lines, let's talk about discipline. It must be natural for a non-custodial parent to want to avoid being the bad guy. How should discipline be handled at the non-custodial home, and how does it relate to the discipline style of the custodial parent?
MsgId: jcafe(19)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:29:27 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Non-custodial Dads reluctance to share in the discipline is the biggest beef single Moms have. It is important to the highest degree possible that you develop a consistent style of discipline in both homes. To the degree that it is not possible, you compromise. For intance, in my house my son goes to bed 30 min later on school nights than his mom's house. But if he misbehaves at school, the punishment is the same at both houses. And if she says he cannot see videos because he misbehaved at school, he does not see them at my house, either./ga
MsgId: jcafe(20)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:31:29 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

I'm glad we're having this show on Dads because we don't often hear the "guy" perspective in terms of fathering. Can you discuss what you see as the importance of the male adult figure in a boy or girl's life?
MsgId: jcafe(21)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:33:20 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

A child needs both parents --involved and actively working together. That is the reason behind all the problems children without fathers have. Children without mothers have similar problems. There are some gender issues --a boy needs a father, but then, a girl needs a father, too. We live in a society which, by and large, although it is changing, is anti-father. There are historical reasons for that...
MsgId: jcafe(22)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:37:01 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

What I mean is that divorce is old. The very first written set of laws ever included provisions of divorce. From the time of Hammurabi, the Babylonian Emperor, fathers have been considered the primary parent and have been given custody. This changed a hundred years ago, during the Industrial Revolution in England. Then, the family was not the center of economic health --the father was. This left mom at home to care for the kids, and she soon was considered the primary parent. The laws were changed accordingly in England and America. We call this the tender years doctrine --the belief that the Mom is the most important parent up until about age six. But it was not always held to be true. This is why moms get kids most of the time, and why fathers are thought to be unimportant./ga
MsgId: jcafe(23)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:40:07 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

In your book, "Good Men," you discuss the special role a father can play by virtue of the fact that he is male and, after all, there really ARE differences between the sexes. Can you give us an example of when a man's natural way of doing things can be an important contribution to a child's development?
MsgId: jcafe(24)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:42:47 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

When Alex, my son, was in the first grade, each kid had to make a presentation about their favorite country. Alex had a whole monologue prepared, but they only let the kid speak for three minutes. His mom, who is a good Mom, wanted to talk to the teacher. I said, no, let him wing it. He did great. The point is this: Dads give kids a sense of possibilities and establish horizons and teach values. This is why the most important role a father can have is coaching. Fathers are coaches. They teach you the verities./ga
MsgId: jcafe(25)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:45:05 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Well, before the rotten tomatoes get thrown at our site, you also say in your book that roles are not necessarily quite so cut-and-dry. Can you elaborate a little on the total parenting role of the non-custodial parent?
MsgId: jcafe(26)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:47:54 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Of course, this subject is so emotionally charged people don't always listed to what I'm saying. Both parents can do either jobs. But if you observe nuclear families, this is the breakdown of responsibilities. It doesn't mean that moms don't teach values or dads don't teach kids how to tie their shoes.
In fact, this is a big point in my book. Single Moms are terrific providers, and non-custodial dads are great nurturers. Most of the divisions of labor I've been talking about are cultural, not biological or even psychological. It doesn't matter who kids get these things from, but just that they get them. If they do, they'll grow up okay./ga
MsgId: jcafe(27)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:50:34 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Let's diverge a bit about a father's parenting role for a moment and touch on how a man feels when his marriage ends, whether or not he initiated the split. What are some of the most common feelings a man has when his marriage ends?
MsgId: jcafe(28)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:52:25 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

The most common feelings expressed are anger and remorse. American men, by and large, are not trained or equipped to express strong emotion. They often do not express guilt, fear, powerful remorse, and confusion.
MsgId: jcafe(29)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:52:41 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

/ga
MsgId: jcafe(30)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:53:24 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

How can guys work through these feelings so they can move on?
MsgId: jcafe(31)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:55:19 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

The first thing you should do is understand that divorce is noone's fault. Too scared human beings trying to make something work for themselves and their kids. Get rid of the revenge things. Also: Find someone you can trust to talk to. A lot of guys don't and they regret it. It does not need to be a therapist --it can be anyone who will not fuel your anger. If possible, find a woman to talk to. She can see both sides and give you the perspective you need./ga
MsgId: jcafe(32)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:57:44 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

You mention in your book that some fathers who have not yet worked out these feelings can take it out on their children by physically or emotionally removing themselves from participation in the children's lives. Can you elaborate on this?
MsgId: jcafe(33)
Date: Tue Dec 9 12:59:33 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Because a man does not know how to experience strong emotions, when he feels them, his first tendency is to flee. Don't do this. A lot of men I've spoken to feel it is the biggest mistake they have ever made. Suck it up and gut it out, if you have to, but remember, it is not about you, it is about your child./ga
MsgId: jcafe(34)
Date: Tue Dec 9 13:01:29 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

So your advice to newly divorced Dads is, even if it's uncomfortable to face your ex-wife and deal with her, or to feel guilty and see your family, stick it out for the sake of your kids and your future relationship with your children?
MsgId: jcafe(35)
Date: Tue Dec 9 13:05:18 EST 1997
From: Jack_Feuer
At: 208.212.69.187

Yes, your job as a parent is the most important you will ever have, and you must live up to your end of the responsibility. Here is a parting piece of advice: Treat your ex-wife as a business partner. Be civil and courteous. The research on the impact of children is often ambiguous, but there is one thing on which everyone agrees: The degree of hositility and amount of conflict between parents has a direct impact on how children will grow up. Do not ever fight with your ex wife in front of the kids for any reason. Be a dependable partner, and remember, the kids come first.

Much of this is in my book, GOOD MEN: A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR DIVORCED DADS.

Thanks for having me --it was great fun!
MsgId: jcafe(36)
Date: Tue Dec 9 13:07:51 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.205.178

Thank you so much, Jack Feuer, for your important advice. There is so much more to add, and we hope you will return to continue your discussion of Do's and Don'ts for Divorced Dads.


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