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7 Ways My Divorce Has Made Me A Better Dad

Yesterday was my 11th Father’s Day, and I spent it without my kids. If your brain just went “Awwwww,” turn that brainfrown upside down. Magda and I worked out long ago that, given our travel schedules, she and I would trade our “Days” this year: I had a great Mother’s Day replete with pancakes, Scrabble, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and Magda spent Father’s Day driving 600 miles to take our 10-year-old to camp. I think I got the long end of the deal.

The other blessing about yesterday was that I was, frankly, worn out with the Father’s Day news cycle. Don’t get me wrong: It’s great to see so much fuss made over dads, more than I can remember ever happening. (I just spent the last couple weeks working on all sorts of dad-based things, including this video about “The New Face of Dad,” and the date and venue announcement for the 2013 Dad 2.0 Summit.) But after I kissed the boys goodbye, I was free to read a lot of the really great writing surrounding Father’s Day and be happy that none of it was mine. It seems like so many of us spend our time “weighing in” on some topic or other. Yesterday, it felt wonderful to be weightless.

Yesterday was also my fourth Father’s Day as a single dad, and at one point I found myself marveling at how the day has evolved for me since the divorce. When we were splitting, I was super possessive of it, because that was MY time with MY boys, and come Hell or High Water, the Three French Men Would Spend Father’s Day Doing Fatherly Dadthings, So Help Me Dad. But now it’s casual because no matter what life shovels at us, I know I’m a big part of my kids’ lives, and they’re a big part of mine.

Then I got to wondering if I could ever have gotten here as a person if Magda and I were still together. I don’t deal in hypotheticals much because hypotheticals are for suckers and/or rabid sports fans. But I do know that my life has grown back pretty well since it burned to the ground four years ago, and the transformation has helped me be a better dad:

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  • All time is quality time 1 of 7
    All time is quality time
    Since I don't see my kids every day, I've learned never to take them for granted. When we're together, I unplug from the computer and phone, and I'm all about them. I want to be present for them, for as long as they're willing to be present with me.
  • I’m a most happier fella 2 of 7
    I'm a most happier fella
    Toward the end of my marriage, I spent a lot of time feeling trapped and angry. Now that I've figured some stuff out, I'm much more easygoing. So I'm more chill when my 7yo kicks over yet another cup of juice that he left on the carpet.
  • MOMK and I get along better 3 of 7
    MOMK and I get along better
    Magda and I get along better so we can support each other more. And when I do favors for her (as she does for me), I can pattern for my boys a respectful relationship with a woman.
  • We’ve forged a parenting partnership 4 of 7
    We've forged a parenting partnership
    With the pesky romantic relationship dead and buried, my ex and I can concentrate on the co-ownership of this business of raising our boys and focus on what they need.
  • More time to read and write 5 of 7
    More time to read and write
    Now that I have more uninterrupted time to myself, I've been able to delve into parenting issues (especially those affecting dads and the boys we're raising) and analyze lots of varied viewpoints from varied angles.
  • No fear 6 of 7
    No fear
    My anger grew from my fear of divorce, and surviving the split has not only vented some steam, it's also tempered me. I'm not nearly as fazed by most things that a small business owner encounters daily.
  • I have the best job ever 7 of 7
    I have the best job ever
    Without my divorce, Dad 2.0 wouldn't have happened. Nuff said.
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Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.

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