Put your kids first

By admin
17 September 2010

When Gary Bailey and his wife told their kids they were getting divorced the last thing on the soccer star’s mind was his emotions.

He was thinking of his three children: their fears, anxiety, confusion and pain.

If he was anxious about the future how much more overwhelmed must the children be, he wondered. He decided he would always put his kids first.

So he and Kate Saunders, his wife of 16 years, wrote and signed a letter pledging not to have a hostile divorce, for the kids’ sake.

‘‘I also made it clear we would avoid legal channels as far as possible,’’ he recalls.

‘‘In my experience two people in the process of a divorce start fighting a lot more the minute lawyers get involved.’’

He and Kate kept their word: the divorce was quick and uncontested. Now the kids spend two weeks every month with him and two weeks with Kate.

Gary decided to share what he believes is a winning route for divorcing dads by co-authoring a book, Gary Bailey’s Divorce for Dads, with British writer Nick Woodall.

It’s a guide to divorce with tips for fathers who might overlook their children’s feelings at a crucial time.

The book isn’t aimed only at fathers, Gary says.

‘‘Any parent going through a divorce can benefit from it. It targets dads because men find it harder to ask for help. They think talking about their feelings isn’t cool. Women are more easily able to do this – they join support groups for single mothers and work through their emotions but men think it’s a sign of weakness to admit they’re hurting.

‘‘The biggest lesson I’ve learnt with my divorce and through writing the book is not to hurt the children,’’ he says.

‘‘Everything else flows from that.’’

* See the 23 September 2010 issue of YOU for Gary’s advice and the chance to win a copy of his book.

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