Separated fathers also have advantages

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There are many aspects to the subject of the separated father that are worth exploring. In my earlier articles I have already written about a number of topics that I know very well from my own experience.

Everything that I have written and will write about, I have experienced myself. I neither write on the basis of what I have read, nor do I write on the basis of hearsay. What you can read here are my own experiences and insights.

My previous articles deal with more or less problematic topics. It's about loss, pain, loneliness, helplessness, fears and worries. My children are far away, how am I supposed to write happy texts full of joie de vivre and ease? It would be almost like delivering an eulogy with a big grin on my face.

If, as a reader of my articles, you now and then have the feeling that my texts are somehow difficult, dark or depressing, then don't be surprised. It's because of the subjects I'm writing about, and it's because of the feelings I have while writing.

In the series of my contributions, however, one aspect should not be missing which does not immediately catch my eye when I think of the topic. I kept arguing with myself whether I should write about it at all. I finally decided to do it because a long time ago I chose ruthless honesty and openness on this blog. Therefore, this is about the advantages of a separated father.

If you now think that I have lost my mind because being separated from your child cannot have any advantages, I suspect that the pain of being separated is still very huge for you and the separation is still very fresh. Please read on anyway, because it might give you a little consolation to learn that the pain will eventually subside and the sun will rise again.

Before I write about the pleasant aspects here, I would like to emphasize that the separation from my children was not my decision and it happened despite my resistance. So it wasn't my wish to break up in order to enjoy a few amenities. But after many months of darkness in my soul, I was able to find that these comforts exist. And I stand by the fact that I now enjoy them very much and would also be reluctant to do without them.

When I left our common home in 2006 and moved into my own little apartment, I was really lucky. I didn't have to look far and found a nice and affordable 2-room attic apartment in a wonderful area. The housing market in the Munich area was already very tense back then and unfortunately I didn't have much choice with my limited budget.

In this apartment I had a double bed in the bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room. When my children stayed with me at the weekends or during the holidays, I let them have my bedroom and made the sofa bed in the living room for myself every evening. I did this every other weekend and for whole weeks during the holidays. I liked doing it because I was happy when my children were with me. I didn't really care that my back hurt every now and then in the morning after getting up.

If you have already slept on a sofa bed yourself, you can perhaps understand how comfortable it was for me when the nights on the sofa became significantly less when my family moved to Hamburg. Because a sofa bed is seldom as comfortable as a real bed.

I liked doing things with my children when they were with me for a few days. We played, painted or did handicrafts together, went for walks and bike rides in the surrounding area, went on excursions or traveled together. They were almost always activities that we all enjoyed, even if it wasn't always easy to get the three of us under one roof.

Often such activities happened very spontaneously. Not everything can be planned because there are simply too many imponderabilities: the weather, everybody’s mood or health and other factors. Some activities, especially travel, were of course planned and prepared in advance.

But there were also days when we were terribly bored because we simply couldn't find a common decission. What one wanted didn't work for the other. My kids didn't enjoy what I suggested. And my children's wishes did not appeal to me. Sometimes this created a tense atmosphere, but most of the time it simply resulted in everyone doing "their own thing".

As a full-time employee, my free time was and is very limited, mainly limited to the weekends and my vacation. Because of my children, this free time was never entirely mine, and sometimes I was even welcome to devote it entirely to my children. I confess that I was not unhappy about it when, after my family moved away, I was able to devote my free time almost unreservedly to my own wishes and interests.

My daughter was just 15 years old when my family moved to Hamburg. She was in the middle of her puberty at the time. I don't think I need to elaborate on what I mean by that. If you have no idea, please do some research on the Internet.

At this point I would just like to reproduce the following saying: Accompanying a child through puberty makes it clear why some animals eat their young.

Because of the distance, I only saw fragments of my daughter's puberty. Now and then I was able to experience for myself how stressful and nerve-wracking certain phases are. But on the whole, this period of her youth passed me by without seriously affecting me. Incidentally, this also applies to my son's later puberty. To be honest, I'm very grateful for that.

Besides puberty, there are other events that are anything but easy. I include illness, school problems, lovesickness, and other everyday worries and hardships. Accompanying a child generally costs a lot of time, nerves and energy, including sleepless nights. It is not uncommon for a father or mother to reach their own limits as a result.

Of course, I knew when my children were seriously ill or had problems at school. But just knowing about it is one side; actively accompanying, supporting, and enduring it is another side entirely. It's not always easy to know about problems and not be able to help, but in the end it was the easier part for me. At this point I therefore sincerely thank the mother of my children for her many years of care.

These few examples are intended to show that there are actually advantages if you rarely or not at all have your child with you. The examples come from my experience, you can perhaps list completely different advantages. Whatsoever, here are a few examples to make clear that not everything is only getting worse, but some things are getting better, too.

As a separated father, can you actually allow yourself to enjoy things that only exist because your child is far away? Can you look forward to new freedom or are you obliged to permanent grief and depression because all other feelings would be inappropriate?

In my experience, the pleasure does not begin immediately after the loss of the child, but comes on very gradually. The further the sadness and pain move into the background, the more space there is for joy and confidence. And there is also space for new points of view and new perspectives. Is that allowed?

I think it is absolutely important that joy, optimism, and pleasure can be there and have its place. Because these feelings help the father to accept his living conditions and, as the saying goes, to make the best of it. At the end of the day, this is not only enriching and motivating for the father, but also for his child.

850 kilometers are no big deal if you go on vacation, but they surely are if you miss your children. Stories from a German father. (www.papa-bleiben.de)