Goddamnit. Men can be nurturing, too. - pete favat family-children father love pete favat

My father was.

My uncles who influenced me were. These men were outstanding nurturing people. Men who lived through the atrocities of WW II and the Great Depression. They showed extreme care and sculpted the person I am today.

I actually never thought of them as nurturing, maybe no one did, they were just great guys who gave a shit, they knew how to love and teach and I know the word nurturing was never used to describe them. I took their lead, I followed their examples, I grew. I married, had children and drew on the experiences I knew. I was a good dad. Some said great dad.

I would sometimes stand in my kids’ bedroom doors at night and just cry. I didn’t want time to move ahead. Everything was perfect. I remember the feeling I had when I held my son in delivery for the first time. I never realized what love actually was. I knew for sure at that moment. It was clear. I understood my father so clearly at that moment. To nurture, to protect.

Then the divorce came. The end of something I thought would last forever. It came fast. Divorce was foreign to me. Not something I knew about. My daughter was one. My son three. It was brutal. I’ll spare the gruesome details of why.  It just did. It takes two people to make a marriage, but what happened is so sad and was so gut wrenching. I hope it never happens to anyone else, though I know it does.

Let’s say with respect to all parties, my ex became something we never expected. She struggled to care for our kids. We went through the court system. Very typical but rough all the same. It was agreed that custody of the kids was split 50-50. I had them with me every other weekend and every Wednesday night, sometimes I would beg for two nights and would get it.. It worked for a little while, my ex and I worked together well to make sure the schedule stayed consistent.

But care for the kids became impossible for my ex, and as a result, dangerous for the kids. I later found out that DSS became involved, there were instances of neglect that were never reported to me. My whereabouts was written on over 30 reports as “unknown”. While I was less than a few miles away. The kids were too young to express any of it. My lawyer and I fought for full custody, but there was never enough evidence to support my case. I moved back into the house, I needed to be there for the kids. I lived in the basement. This dragged on for three plus years. I was 34 years old, a partner in a business and worked a lot but I was in control of what I could and couldn’t do.

Here’s where the really shocking part happens.

With the future of the kids looking very scary, the judge, a woman, deemed me, a man, “A money maker, a provider. Men are not nurturing beings. Women are.” She stated. I was shocked, she was locked. I got angry, lost my head. I lashed out at her that something would happen to these children if there wasn’t a change. My ex Mother in law came to court to support me. It was getting bad. I threatened the judge. I told her these two kids are all I have in the world and if anything were to happen to them, I would be coming back for her. She threatened me with contempt. My lawyer freaked, “I can’t defend you if you act that way.” I fired him on the spot. There was no way I would be given full custody. “You’re job is to make money Mr. Favat.” She said.

Everything I knew, everything I grew up learning about being a man, a caring person, was in a total tailspin.

Then my ex hit bottom, it happened, the day I was worried about. I got the call from to police. I rushed to the scene, the officer involved asked “What is the situation here? You’re children are in danger.”
I explained that even with all the evidence the court had, the judge deemed me, a man “A NON NURTURING BEING.” To which he replied, “Call an emergency hearing, I am going to court with you and want to see this judge.”  Now with fresh evidence in hand, an eyewitness and the POV of an strong minded officer, the judge broke.

With an eye roll, and a flippant, punkish attitude, the judge begrudgingly gave me full custody of my children. I cried. Years later I look back on those days and wonder what my kids would have turned out like if I just ran away. I re married. A woman who by every measure loved and helped raise those children like a real mother, a true mother. Today the kids are 20yrs and 22yrs years old, amazing people, beautiful caring people.

I stand for 100% for equality. But my experience and my ask is that we practice true equality. Men can be extremely nurturing people.

I have proof.




  • mary

    Great dad. great person. great storyteller too.

  • yaffe

    Great read Pete.

  • Phyllis Koenig

    Makes me cry, Pete…..

  • Renner

    That’s why I love you, brother. Great man. Better dad.

  • Bob Fagan

    You’re a very good, nurturing man Pete. Your kids are extremely lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing.

  • susan credle

    Perfect point.

  • belefant

    Thank you for writing this, Pete.

    I’m grateful that my kids haven’t been exposed to as much risk as yours, but it saddens me to have been the victim of the same prejudice.

    I’ll never have joint custody of my kids, much less sole custody. They’ll never be with me on Christmas or Easter. And for the next 14 years, I’ll pay child support, despite the fact that my ex-wife often earns double what I do in a year.

    My lawyer tells me I’m lucky to have them six days out of 14, which strikes me as ridiculous. As if I’m the one who benefits by spending time with them. Which I do, but not nearly to the extent that they benefit by spending time with me.

    When there’s a problem with one of my kids at school –– which happens mostly with my son, who’s autistic –– I only get a call when my ex-wife is at work or on vacation with her boyfriend and the nanny she hires (and the court requires me to pay for) is unavailable. This despite the fact that I moved into a house ten blocks form their school so I could be available.

    All because men aren’t nurturing.

    We live in a strange time, when women have earned the right to be treated equally but men have not.

  • Ellen

    Bravo Pete, I know how hard it is to revisit those dark days. If you inspire even one other father trapped in that spiral to persevere then you will have saved more than just your two wonders. You are a hero to me and so many others. Love to your Brave Heart. Ellen

  • dave waller

    Your kids are all the proof anyone could ask for. I always felt that way but couldn’t find the words. Thanks for finding them for me…
    – Dave Waller

  • dan g

    Wow, what a powerful story. Thanks for sharing – a lesson for us all

  • carron

    Great Article Pete, I remember all that you went through and know how wonderful your kids are! xoxo

  • mimi7369

    I am so grateful that someone listened to you before it was truly too late.

  • Adam Elk

    The world is beyond lucky to have someone like Pete in it. This article will stay with me , for the rest of my life.

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