Separation and fatherhood

Separation and fatherhood
Even if nothing is going right between a couple, children need both their parents.

Even if nothing is going right between a couple, children need both their parents. It’s important for fathers to maintain a solid bond with their child when there is a separation.

Sadly, separation often deals a blow to the relationship between father and child, observes Manuel Prats, Coordinator at Maison Oxygène Montréal, a housing and support resource for fathers experiencing difficulties. “Men tend to act like wounded animals, so they isolate themselves to lick their wounds and heal,” he says. “And some will avoid taking steps to see their children because they’re afraid of making things worse with the mother.”

This reaction in men can also be explained by the fact that society still sees mothers as being mainly responsible for the care of young children. “Guys doubt their importance in the lives of their children and their ability to properly take care of them. They need to trust themselves,” says Caroline Paquet, psychologist and family mediator.

Help resources
Several organizations offer workshops or help for parents going through a separation. You can contact your local CLSC or family centre to find out more.

How to proceed

The ideal situation would have both parents teaming up to raise their children, whether they share custody or not. Research shows that a father’s involvement increases when parents establish a collaborative relationship. The children have fewer behavioural problems and feel more psychologically and emotionally stable when their father continues to be present after the separation.

Even if it can sometimes be difficult, mothers should keep an open mind so that fathers can continue to be present, insists Caroline Paquet. “It’s better for a mother to get past the anger and recriminations towards her ex in order to recognize how important the father is for her children.”

Even if parents are separated, both remain responsible for raising their child.

For better cooperation, the best thing is to keep a positive attitude and to act with respect. If any action needs to be taken (e.g.: mediation to settle custody), it’s best not to wait too long. “The longer you wait, the harder it is to reinitiate contact with your child,” says Manuel Prats.

Naître et grandir

Source: Magazine Naître et grandir, September 2015
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Daniel Paquette, Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, Université de Montréal