Bad Husband, Good Father?

12 Oct

I seem to live my life in commercials (compared to my son who lives life in musical numbers), because I keep picking up nuggets of confusion and blogging about them. So in today’s online therapy, here’s the fun phrase I overheard: “Bad husband, good father.” Really?

At first blush, this is perfectly understandable. As the son of divorced parents, there is a huge difference between a father who’s there for you versus a father who’s not. To quote another commercial, “Your kids don’t need the perfect parent, they need you.” Simply being there makes a HUGE difference. My dad was in the Navy, so he physically couldn’t be there, but he tried as best as he could through letters, but there was a big difference. So I have a lot of appreciation to those divorced dads who stay in the same area, make sure to take the kids half the time, continue to be a parent even though they’re no longer married to their mom. To the kid, their relationship to your mom is less important. At first…

However, parenting is just another relationship, just like marriage – there are different needs with adults than with kids. So naturally, a relationship with your spouse is exponentially more difficult, because your needs are different and often harder to fulfill. If the kids wants junk food, and you refuse to give it to them, sure you’re got a tantrum for a few minutes and then life goes on. If your wife wants you to stop X, and you don’t want to stop X, this will continue on and on for… weeks? Months? Years? That lingering “tantrum” will poison your relationship for a long, long time.

That poisoned relationship will affect your kids, whether you like it or not. I certainly remember the day my parents divorced – it was done remotely, again because my dad was in the Navy – but it made an impact on my life. That anger can make things difficult for everyone in the family. Even when you stop that behavior, or start doing something to mend the relationship, it’s hard to forget that anger. For the one trying to change, when that anger is still directed at you… what’s the incentive to keep with the change?

Man, that was vague! I guess what I’m trying to say is that… yes, you can be a good father but a bad husband, but it’s preferable to try and be both. I’ve been married 14 years and I find it a wonder that anyone stays together. Relationships are hard work. However, being a good father is… a little easier. It’s still difficult, but it seems to be easier to keep your kids happy than to keep your wife happy.

Then again, my kids are only becoming teenagers now – I’m sure that as they become young adults, they’ll get more of those adult complexities, and they’ll hate me half the time too. Then they’ll become parents and they’ll forgive me, just like I forgave my father, because it’s only once you’re in their situation that you understand what your parents went through.

What do you think? Is there a happy medium you can make between all your family members? Or do you find relationships with children harder? Let me know in the comments below!

3 Responses to “Bad Husband, Good Father?”

  1. Art of the Beat October 12, 2020 at 9:22 am #

    Greetings!
    The fact that you are even posing this question shows that you are fairly close to reaching that happy medium as you seem to have a genuine and open mind. Your spouse and children are lucky. I have been married twice. the first time for 9 years, we had four children. We let others, our parents, dictate how our relationships and how the kids should be raised as we were young and and dependent on them for various reasons. My ex-monster-in-law hated me and I tried everything to get her to like me, till finally we ended it. This second marriage, we talk and fight and joke around. His kids don’t like me and that’s okay. I don’t go out of my way to like them and he is okay with that. We are just too old now to care, really. We know what matters and we know that death is coming sooner than later so we are going to enjoy each other till we can’t and hopefully not make each other crazy trying to figure out what to eat for dinner every day. Oh my, sorry, guess I was a little high…have a nice day and hope this helps 🙂

  2. Ken Dowell October 12, 2020 at 11:15 am #

    I’ve been married twice and had kids with both wives. It’s clearly tougher to be a divorced parent but I think it’s tougher on your kids if you stay in a bad relationship.

  3. Jaya Avendel October 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm #

    Love that you share some thoughts on this! I think it is possible to have a happy medium, but sometimes I wonder if people try too hard ‘make it work’ instead of just being happy.
    That said, I connected with what you say about parenting being about a relationship with kids. 🙂

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