In the shoes of others

It's possible to be a better parent because you are divorced

- I remember when I split with the kids's mom about ten years ago, I would be often at the school gates but I'd respect the child guard between us, and the other parents, mostly the moms would say « Oh do you have the children this week-end? », and I would say « No, we split! » and this is just because of my gender... So actually my girlfriend made me a badge and it says « 47% » because I actually had them 47% of the time, and I wore this badge to the school gates just to say like... whether I had them on the week-end or not, they'd live with me after. So that was really a judgment. Like a judgment was made « Oh because you're the dad, you're not gonna be involved, because the mom is gonna be the one... ». And this is ten years ago, it's shifting but that was definitely a judgment.

- So the dad shouldn't be the one...?

- Yeah exactly!

- And you feel like it's different today?

- Yeah, and it's also cultural, in Sweden or Denmark it's not an issue.

- And it sounds like during the past years dads got more rights in some countries, like more weeks to stay home after childbirth etc...

- Definitely, but in Scottish law and unless you challenge it, it's two week-ends a month for the father, only on the basis of gender.

- And that, whatever your situation is?

- Yes, because I actually had more time to look after them, but the perception was « Oh you're a dad so you go to work and... ». And on the other hand, you get a lot of praise for being at the school gates, which is also absurd. You know, someone is gonna be here, and it's me today. It's becoming more understood but you know...

- Okay... Maybe i'll go slightly out of the original topic, I'm curious because I have you as, for what I understood, a divorced man with kids, and I'm wondering, how does it feel only having your kids part of the time?

- Well they grown up now but hum, you kinda look forward to seeing them, so it has this curious thing where it defamiliarizes being with them, you know, you have a week to think « What are we going to do next week-end » or « What would be the best way of behaving... » where when there's no gap, you don't have any reflexion time, you just, like a lot of parents, fight to stay above the water. So, I missed them a lot at the beginning but you get used to it, and it actually almost became positive. Tough for them to have two houses, but on the other hand at least there's somewhere else to go, like when I was a teenager, I wish I had two houses to go, so you know... it's not all negative and painful.

- So would you say that there's pros and cons?

- Yes I would actually!

- Because it sounds like you have this period of rest where you can think of what are you going to say and provide maybe even better activities...

- Yeah, I think it's possible to be a better parent because you are divorced. Parents might be more affective in some ways. More than half of marriages end up in a divorce and society paints it as a terrible thing, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a difficult thing, it doesn't have to be only negative.

- Do you feel like it affected your kids?

- Oh yeah, for sure! I think if you can stay together there's a kind of... it could be an illusion, but there's an illusion of solidity, but that could be completely false. A lot of people stay together for the children, but it's based on a kind of lie.
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