What Is Divorced Dad Syndrome? How Does It Impact Child Custody?

What Is Divorced Dad Syndrome? How Does It Impact Child Custody?

Divorced Dad Syndrome, also referred to as Guilty Dad (or Father) Syndrome, is a behavioral pattern that arises in some men after the divorce. They get engulfed by feelings of guilt because the family has broken apart perhaps due to their wrongful actions. In particular, they may be disturbed by the psychological wounds suffered by the children due to the divorce.

So, they would try their best to do things to make up for their failure by parenting their children based on their guilt pangs, kind of offloading some of their guilt, instead of parenting in the child’s best interests. To illustrate, here are a few examples:

Examples Of Divorced Dad Syndrome Behavior

  1. A divorced dad may be extra lenient towards the children. He may not discipline them for bad behavior and even allow children-related problems to fester. For example, if the child does not do homework, the divorced dad may merely keep repeatedly telling the child to finish homework instead of following up or disciplining him/her.
  2. A divorced/guilty dad may tell his children to take it easy when they are around him and not do any tasks which they ought to – thereby promoting laxity, and casual and irresponsible behavior.
  3. Such a dad may spoil the children by buying just about anything they demand – just because he feels guilty about the divorce or maybe to compete with the mother.
  4. He may give in to the child’s demands or even decisions related to the family, even if they seem unreasonable.
  5. If the dad is busy, he may gift the children stuff to get them off his back, spoiling them silly in the process.

Divorced Dad Syndrome And Child Custody

If the divorced dad begins spoiling the children to the extent that they become disobedient or rebellious towards the mom, or if the children start becoming irresponsible or reckless, then the mom may file a petition with the courts to modify the custodial arrangement in her favor. If the mom can prove to the courts that the father’s parenting is not in the child’s best interests, then the courts may modify the child custody arrangement and reduce or even eliminate the father’s parenting time. In the worst case, the courts may allow the father only some visitation rights, which may be supervised.

Therefore, men who are experiencing the Divorced Dad Syndrome should consider visiting a therapist and try to create a more peaceful environment for themselves.

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