A Letter To The Dads That Left Because Of Autism & The Ones That Are Thinking Of Leaving… (from a dad who stayed)
January 15, 2012
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Now Reading: A Letter To The Dads That Left Because Of Autism & The Ones That Are Thinking Of Leaving… (from a dad who stayed)
January 15, 2012
(originally written & published on January 15, 2012)
I hear alot on my Facebook Page from women who say that their husbands bailed out on their families/ marriages due to the stresses of autism in their lives. And every day I see another new Facebook page from single autism moms like “Single Mothers who have Children with Autism” and “Tales Of A Single MomRaising A Child With Autism”
The whole thing, the idea of leaving your family due to a disability sounds so completely bizarre to me that I thought about writing a letter to these dads… And here it is…
A letter to the autism dads that left and to the ones who are thinking about leaving….
(I know, I know moms sometimes leave too…but the dads leave more often… so that’s who this letter is for)
Let’s get something out of the way right out of the gate. Let’s admit it. Let’s call a spade a spade You were a jerk already, before the autism, right? You probably would’ve left for some other reason. It was already in your DNA to be a loser, right?
Let’s be honest, if you didn’t have a kid with autism I still don’t think you’d be winning any father/husband of the year awards…
If you leave your wife and family cuz of autism then I’m betting you probably never would’ve been satisfied with your life /marriage and probably would’ve bailed at some point no matter what the circumstances or stayed and been miserable and/or a jerk. Because if you honestly left your wife and family solely because of the hardships of life with this condition than you are not a man. You are a weasel.
I mean if your kid had cancer would you have left? Would you have left your wife to deal with all of the stress alone then? Or what about some other disease/ disorder? Or what about cerebral palsy or down syndrome? Would those have sent you running for the hills? Or what was it about autism that scared you off so much?
I mean I get it fellas, you may not be able to have the “typical” family life you were always expecting. You may not be able to take your kid to the ballgame, or play catch, or a million other things, but “WAAAA!” stop crying and get over it… And do something to be happy! I mean what else are you gonna do? Try again for a typical family with another woman? What if the autism is in your genetics? You gonna keep trying to you get it right?
Now if you already left and divorced your wife. It’s not too late to step up and be a man and be an integral part of your ASD kid’s life.
Learn more about him. Learn what makes him tick. Take him more often and give your ex-wife a break more often. Take your kids for an extra weekend here, a week off from school there. Give your ex-wife a small chunk of the peace and quiet that you get all the time since you bailed out.
But when you do have the kids please abide by the rules your ex-wife has set up. You bailed out and left her in charge. So now you have to accept the decisions / choices that she’s made. If she’s got the kids on the GFCF diet, stick to it even if you don’t agree with it. If she’s got rules about how much tv they can watch abide by it. You gave up your right to help make those decisions. The least you can do is follow the rules / protocols she’s set up. RESPECT HER CHOICES.
And also try to be a unified front both in your parenting of your kids and out in the world. What I mean by this is even though you’re divorced doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up to your kid’s IEP meetings or open school nights or other important events like this. Even if you’re out of touch on the details just showing up as a sign of support and solidarity goes a long way!!
So if you were a loser who bailed on your wife / family because of autism, it’s not too late for you to step up and be a real man! You can even start today! Instead of going somewhere to watch the NFL Playoff games today call your ex-wife and grab your kids for the day and give her a break. You can always DVR the games and watch them tonight. I know you don’t want me to let all te women in on our little secret… But all us men know that if you remove the commercials, timeouts and halftime the average football game can be over in about 52 minutes…. 🙂 So now you’ve got no excuse not to start today!
And to the dads of newly diagnosed kids with autism that are thinking about leaving…
You don’t need to reinvent yourself and become this super amazing autism dad. That’s not what your spouse is looking for. Just be a wee bit better than the husband / father you were before autism hit.
If you were the kinda husband / father that went out 3x a week with the fellas, poker one night, golf on Saturday, football on Sunday, then that’s the precedent your family dynamic has set. So when autism enters your household don’t think your wife is looking for you to drop everything, just drop one of them, maybe two on stressful weeks.
And then pretty much do all the things I suggested to the divorced dads above. Be more involved, be a unified front, respect her decisions, etc, etc.
But if you are gonna stay in the marriage you have to be there. Be present. Don’t stay if you’re gonna stay and be miserable and distant and drag your wife down with you.
I would leave if I felt i was dragging my wife down. But first I’d try to make myself better, thru drugs or running or something. Read this other post of mine with more tips and pointers on how to be happy in your marriage when autism comes along.
And to both the dads who bailed because of autism and the dads who are thinking about leaving because of autism… the fact that you are reading this is a big step. It’s not too late for you to make things right and to step up a be a real man, a true father, a good husband or ex-husband. Just take the first step. And if you ever want to chat about things or need a male shoulder to masculinely cry on 🙂 please join my Facebook page or email me at email@example.com
Every time I re-post this blog post on Facebook I always get a lock of flack. So I’ll say 2 things straight away…
1) Yes, I know moms leave too… but c’mon it’s way more often dads…
but if it makes you feel any better, then re-read this post and replace the word “dad” for “parent” and then most of it still applies…
2) I know people leave their marriages for tons of other reasons. If you left for another reason then this letter doesn’t apply to you.
This letter only applies to the dads (ok, parents) that specifically left because the hardship of the diagnosis sent them running for the hills…we all know those guys/gals are out there…
if that’s not you, if you left for other reasons, then this letter doesn’t apply to you so you shouldn’t feel the need to defend yourself to me (a complete stranger)
Written byFrank Campagna
I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).