Fathers & Families supporters David Gestl and Eric Ryerson are quoted in Jill Brooke’s recent article Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce? (Huffington Post, 7/17/09). Huffington Post is one of the largest political websites in the world, and Brooke’s article received high billing on Friday.
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The thesis of Brooke’s article is, as professor Don Gordon explains, “When a father is away from the stress of a failed marriage, he can be more relaxed and more reflective and as a result enjoy being more fully involved with his children.”
As a general rule, divorce is often what drives fathers and kids apart. However, the phenomenon Brooke is describes certainly exists, and some father-child relationships do improve after divorce. Brooke writes:
“I asserted myself to be present and got rewarded for it,” said Ryerson. “I also got to meet his classmates and interacted with them.” Ryerson recalls fondly how in second grade he was nicknamed Mr. Pushy because he eagerly pushed his son’s friends on the swings. “My son told me he liked it when I came to school.”
Ryerson went to the school and volunteered to be a chaperone for class trips, signed his name to contact forms and also spoke to coaches to provide information on his son’s soccer and baseball games.
David Gestl, the divorced father of four in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, agrees, adding how it’s a relief not to argue about parenting styles which allows the father to develop his own.
“In my marriage, I was always walking on eggshells and getting criticized,” he said. “Recently after I made dinner, my son shook his chocolate milk and it went flying everywhere. I could say, just relax it’s nothing a paper towel won’t pick up. It’s okay to make a mistake and fix it. ” One benefit to divorce is that with scheduled rationed time, each parent doesn’t take it for granted and can have more single minded focus with their kids… “My ex-wife interpreted the divorce agreement that if I arrived at my son’s soccer game that it should only be when I had him for an overnight,” said Eric Ryerson, a nurse in Eugene, Oregon and father to an 11-year-old son. “But I want to see him more than my custody arrangement and by coming to sports events and volunteering at school, I can see him more.”