Entries in Resources: Fatherlessness (2)


Finding a way through the pain of separation


Dean Mason, chairman of Dads in Distress Support Services, whose book, Daddy's OK, will be launched tomorrow. Photo: Jason South

When Tim's* marriage ended more than a decade ago, the Melbourne teacher who was living alone in his small workshop, thought about throwing himself under his power saw - more than once.

"There was a time when I just couldn't get the thought out of my head," he says now. "I came very close a couple of times."

The only thing that stopped him, he says, was the memory of a troubled student he had taught years earlier, whose father had taken his life following the breakdown of his own marriage. That boy's father also happened to be one of Tim's oldest friends.

"He couldn't handle being separated from his kids … but I saw what my mate's death did to that boy and I knew I couldn't do that to my children."

Tim's story of despair is one Dean Mason, a fellow divorcee and chairman of Dads in Distress Support Services - for separated men - has heard many times before.

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A happy Father's Day ahead - well, for some men at least


Every year, tens of thousands of Australian children are not able to wish their dad, or their granddad, a happy Father's Day due to their parents being separated or divorced.

What does that tell us, that fathers who don't see their children are "deadbeat dads"?

In a recent case federal magistrate Tom Altobelli made some surprising admissions in awarding a mother sole custody of her two children: "Their mother has indeed alienated them from their father … the mother's perception of the father is based on illusion not reality … She is not being malicious or malevolent, she is quite simply shackled by a distorted frame of reality … She believes the father is a risk to the children when he is not."

It is remarkable, and a relief, that Altobelli wrote the children a letter explaining his decision. But the isolation still felt by their father must be extreme. Many fathers - or mothers in similar situations - experience debilitating mental health issues while they work through various aspects of being a separated non-custodial parent.

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