Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Boys need a father, even a mediocre one
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My husband left me for my younger sister (who was also married). He married my sister and moved out of state.
My son is seven. My sister didn’t want and doesn’t have kids. My ex-husband makes good money, but he abandoned our son.
He was supposed to have him for part of this summer, but they went to Europe. He could’ve sent postcards, but no.
My son has withdrawn from life. My divorced friend has a son his age and his father takes him out a lot. It hurts my son.
A girl in my son’s class said men were, “no-good rotten liars.” The teacher said my son asked, “Why are dads jerks?”
I try not to be hostile to my son’s father, but I’m sure he’s heard me say bad things about him.
I don’t know good men, except my father and he lives an hour away.
Mom with a bad ex
It must be difficult to feel civil towards your ex-husband. However, women who see men as the oppressors and women as the victims, are sending a message to their sons that all men are unworthy.
Even though it’s inconvenient, take your son, often, to visit with his grandfather. It could change his life.
Boys need their dads, even a mediocre one. Government studies have concluded that boys with their dads in their lives, unless abusive, have a better chance to succeed in relationships, communicate better, succeed in college, and avoid drugs, bullying, violence, and delinquent behavior.
Studies show that boys who grow up with some good influence from an average dad, are more likely to be social, confident, and have a higher I.Q. (by age 3), and be better problem-solvers.
Dads roughhouse with their kids, causing sons to grow into disciplined and strong healthy men. Moms are more empathetic to their sons and more likely to be a helicopter parent. As a result, sons aren’t always more empathetic and may expect everyone else to cater to their needs.
Recent studies have shown that parents who expect their children to have care, consideration, and courtesy for their parents and family members will create an empathetic person, who learns to provide service and care for others and themselves.
Obviously, you can’t make your former husband into a well-functioning dad. However, you may ask him to show love to your son and help your son gain dignity and succeed.
You could also reach out to clubs, churches, and volunteer groups for healthy role-models. Consider the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for a “Big.” He may be significant for your son.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation and host of a podcast at BullyingLifeAndStuff.com. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Write them at Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.