“No. We Just Dump Each Other”

It’s probably obvious that by the time men approach OnlyDads for support and advice, they are having a bad time of things! I am thinking in particular of men who are struggling to see their children. Many of these men we meet seem to be “stuck in their story” and unable to move forward.

Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs (while it has its critics) offers us an interesting insight into the lives of many men (and women) post divorce and separation.

The top of his pyramid – what Maslow calls “self-actualisation” talks about qualities of “problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts”. Part of the downside of being “stuck in one’s story” is that none of these things seem possible. In particular, the seeming lack of ability at “problem solving” is very apparent with many men I speak to.

“I go round and round” is an expression many will have heard when talking to dads in this situation. A never-ending, always repeating, series of reflections and arguments and counter-arguments that end up with dad being stuck.

Readers of this blog will know that I have never been one to get too excited about the workings of the Family Justice Review. In fact, to put it rather more bluntly, I can’t see it making very much difference to anything. And I say that for a reason.

My belief is that too much time is spent debating the minutiae when really there is a much bigger picture going on. Returning to Maslow’s theory, men and women are only going to reach the nirvana that is self-actualisation with all the bottom building-blocks of life’s pyramid firmly in place: feelings of self-worth, basic things like having the security of a place to live, and friendship…

…but the way many of us men and women in the UK end relationships, results (if I can extend the analogy) with one or both parties taking a bulldozer to those very foundation blocks. It’s no wonder we find too many men and women at breaking point post divorce and separation.

I was talking to Priya (14yo) the other day about her sex and relationship classes in school. All seemed very comprehensive. She has learned about STDs, how to use contraception…but I asked her if anyone has mentioned in any of these classes how to end a relationship. “No, we just dump each other” was a chilling response.

While Michael Gove is looking at aspects of the school curriculum, can I suggest that some form of education on “how to end a relationship while honouring the other” might not be a bad thing…what do you think?


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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8 Responses to “No. We Just Dump Each Other”

  1. @Vanessa__Bailey says:

    Great stuff – I completely agree with you about the ‘endings’ education – it seems to me that the animosity clouds judgement to the point where it is more important than the child. I left my daughter’s father with compassionate sadness for the fact that despite our best efforts, we were not able to work things out. We have maintained shared care for almost six years now – it is hard sometimes, but we are lucky that we both perceive the animosity as less than the needs of our daughter.

    It is clear from reading your post that part of what I continually, consciously do, is to turn a blind eye to the things that do not fit with my parentings style – I understand that my daughter will be exposed to all sorts of influences that I do not necessarily like and cannot control trust that this really is her life – all I can do is support her as she is.

    I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have these relationships: others are not so lucky:

    I have done McKenzie Friend-type work for my dyslexic, angry boyfriend for the past year or so in his ongoing battles with his ex-wife and their son’s right to contact with both parents and it has been interesting to watch the stories and justifications from both sides turn into loony-tunes – to the detriment of the primary school age boy that needs his parents. I am completely flabbergasted that in this case, the court process appears to not only sustains this pattern, but actually adds to it. Don’t legal professionals have a duty of care for the children?

    Something has to shift – emotionally, physically, economically, (and the rest) we cannot carry on with the way things are.

    • onlydads says:

      Wow – such useful comments. Thank you.

      No one who is reading this comment of yours (especially the looney tunes bit) will disagree with you. Something does have to change!


  2. P says:

    What do I think? Boundaries came to mind as I read your piece. I feel it is difficult to be taught how to respect other people’s boundaries until we have truly learnt to respect and manage our own boundaries. Until we learn where our own boundaries lay and learn how to speak and listen from a place of love that is our own boundary, without being aggressive or submissive or humorous believing we can or have the right to change another, respect of another may always be a difficult target.

    • onlydads says:

      PF – I hadn’t thought of that – and now you mention it, I’m sure your are right!!

      Thank you for bringing this valid point to the debate

      Bob x

  3. Bob, this is about how some behave in general these days. It’s a very big task to try to encourage the powers that be, to alter that, if indeed they can. But to do nothing, would change nothing.
    I agree with what you are suggesting, setting some standards of how people treat each other while they are in their school years, is a good thing.
    In fact, possibly more important, if you take into account that some single parents, or divorced couples will be at logger-heads with each other. They’re not being the good role models at all, when they do that. There’s clearly a need to provide something, somewhere.
    If parents don’t take responsibility for this, then who will? Schools could at least give the alternative perspective on how to end relationships. And quite possibly, some of those kids they address, will identify with the reasons why there should be more than one way.
    Of course “we just dump each other” can have a big emotional affect on the one being dumped. But teenagers don’t have assets to divide, or have to come to an agreement on how best to share perenting, post break-up. That said, if the core of how best to break-up is addressed, then in later life this may help to make break-up a smoother process for them, should it happen.

    Some might say, that it shouldn’t be something kids should have to think about until they’re older. But looking at some of the grown-up things that kids are aware of (and even do) these days, what would be the harm in introducing something positive?

    I did hear they are trying to introduce a new aspect to the primary school curriculum, whereby they encourage kids to think about how it makes other children feel, when they do something horrid toward them. A kind of ‘put yourself in their place’ thing. Not sure if that came to fruition though.

  4. stigmum says:

    I saw a comment you wrote over at Rosie Scribble’s about hope, and men, and for what it’s worth thought I’d send you a post I wrote recently http://stigmum.blogspot.com/2012/02/men-and-self-help-books.html. That aside, human emotions are so hard sadly ‘just dumping eachother’ is the easiest path, I guess. I do know at my son’s school they have pshe (Personal, Social and Health Education) classes that enable them to explore the whole wealth of emotion in order to build their confidence and self esteem.

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