When the OnlyDads ‘phone rings and all you can hear is a man sobbing and trying to gain his composure to talk, you know you will be on the phone for a good twenty minutes. Maybe more.
The story is so familiar. It goes like this:
- Deteriorating marriage – both mum and dad sticking it “out for the sake of the children”
- One small argument ends up in a blazing row. Years of frustration come out. Things are said (and sometimes done) which Dad regrets.
- The next day, he finds himself staying at a mate’s house…
- …mum and dad find that at this precise stage, they can no longer communicate – the damn has burst!
- When either party suggests mediation, the knee jerk reaction (because one party or the other suggests it, I guess) is greeted with a resounding “NO”.
- A month or so later, Dad will find himself without a loving relationship, limited access to his children, emotionally volatile, unable to concentrate on his job…etc, etc…For those who believe Maslow was on to something, the very building blocks of dad’s life will be crumbling, or in some cases disappearing altogether.
- Within a matter of months, Dad will be in and out of the GP’s surgery, there will be “chats with his boss”, there will be growing anger, resentment, confusion, upset…reconciliation with Mum seems increasingly distant. Fear sets in: Talk of taking “legal action”, “losing my job”, and “heartbreak” at the lack of contact with his children are the refrain.
We see and hear it all the time: One day it’s Sunday lunch with the whole family in the marital home with all the familiar noise and bustle. No matter how poor the relationship is with the other half, there is security, and family life, and work, and a roof over one’s head!
But, within a relatively short period, this is replaced by sleeping on someone’s sofa, loneliness, a half-empty bottle of scotch, loss of employment, loss of fathering time, and increasing desperation.
There is no judgement here – this just is how it is for so many dads who contact us.
I believe, with its emphasis on holistic support and signposting, this is where OnlyDads comes into its own.
The debate around separated dads and children is dominated by talk about how best to secure ongoing contact post divorce/separation.
I make a simple plea: Amending the Children Act is NOT on its own going to address the myriad, complex and often inter-linked problems, which arise when family life crumbles.
Dads need much more support!
OnlyDads has this week written to Maria Miller (the DWP has earmarked a budget of £20m to support organisations who help separating mums and dads), to ask “please help us out”!
The hundreds of question that flood into our Panel of Experts week after week prove that we are onto something with our emphasis on “all round support”.
…we wait with bated breath and a sure knowledge that what we do at OnlyMums and OnlyDads is good – but is just scratching the surface and with a tiny bit of support we could do so much more.
Whether or not the Government will listen and understand is now up to them. We welcome all reflections and comments. Something tells me we should be asking readers of this post to write to Maria supporting our cause. But that viral stuff is not really our style.
That said, if anybody wanted to craft a reasoned and supportive letter for the work we do, and send it to Maria, I’m sure that would no harm.
Many thanks for reading.