Many readers will know that I run a group for Dads in Totnes on a Monday evening. It’s a simple affair. We meet in the Bay Horse and weather permitting occupy a few tables in the garden out the back. Men who are going through or have been through divorce and separation come along. Without exception, they come for wisdom and sharing of information on how they might best establish a better relationship with their children.
We have two rules: We speak honestly and we don’t interrupt each other.
On this last Monday, a Dad (new to our group) asked if he could have a private word with me. I agreed.
We took ourselves off and he just said to me “what is all this about?”
It took two minutes to establish that by “this” he meant dads struggling and courts and solicitors and CAFCASS reports and….ultimately children being damaged.
The answer I gave came straight from Kat McTaggart’s wonderful article on the Children’s Act Paradox – It is because mums and dads get themselves in the position where they look to third parties and institutions (complete strangers) to sort out what is best for their own children. That, to my way of thinking, is invariably going to fail!
I came away from that conversation with a single thought. I’ll share it with you – in the hope that one or two of you reading this (perhaps from the legal and/or educational professions) may decide the idea is worth pursuing and feel that they may like to work with OnlyDads to see if we can get something off the ground.
To produce and distribute a DVD and associated course work on what it might mean to “put children first” after divorce and separation.
I see no reason why this can’t be slipped into the school curriculum. It could also be used by ante-natal classes and various marriage preparation and counselling courses.
This won’t change the world. But, by setting out a few facts and figures and more importantly real life stories from children who have been hurt by the actions of their parents, it may give a reference point for the time when a relationship ends, and mum and dad have to decide what living arrangements are going to be best for their children.
As I said to the dad at the end of our conversation, “the minute a mum or dad approaches the door of a solicitor’s office to sort out child contact, the game is over. We have to (as a nation) get in front of that curve!
What do you think?