Switzerland Opens Shelter For Divorced Dads

image of a divorced dad separated from family
Heartbreak, Family

A pastor in Switzerland has opened a shelter for newly separated or divorced fathers.

We're all familiar with this scene: on a dark, stormy night, a feuding couple reach breaking point, so the man packs his bags and drives off to some undisclosed location. Regardless of who's at fault, we can't help feeling a little concerned for the guy: where is he going to stay? Will he check into a motel? Crash on a friend's couch? Sleep in the car? How Do I Tell Him I Want A Divorce?

Thanks to a benevolent pastor's pilot project, a few newly-separated fathers living in Switzerland can have temporary shelter and a safe haven to recover from the initial trauma of their split. The home, which opened in late 2009, currently accommodates three fathers at a time. Cabalzar also designated two bedrooms for children of guests, who pay the equivalent of $166 per week to stay. 4 New Ways To Approach Divorce

Some dads only stay for a few days, others, for a few weeks, and the demand for shelter is high. The pastor, Andreas Cabalzar, is considering opening more homes for divorced dads who could use a little group therapy. In addition to providing religious support for the guests who need it, Cabalzar works with marriage counselors, lawyers, and psychologists to help divorcing parents communicate openly while maintaining a positive environment for their children. Does Divorce Make A Man A Better Dad?

After his shelter project took off, Cabalzar saw first-hand the extent to which marital breakdowns affects a person's well-being, as well as how prevalent it is in all sectors of society. He believes that the ideal of a nuclear family (mom, dad, two kids, and a dog) is a product of our grandparents' generation, and that it's about time people face how family lives have changes since then. Economic woes and the spread of divorce may have reshaped the nuclear family, but parents should always be committed to having good relationships with their children.

"80 percent of the time it is the wife asking for a divorce and the children stay in the family home while the father leaves with his suitcases and becomes more vulnerable," Cabalzar told Reuters.

His shelter may not be a permanent solution to a couple's problems, but at the very least, it provides a neutral place where fathers can spend time with their kids during the early stages of divorce. Its nurturing environment may also discourage newly-separated men from hurting themselves, wallowing in grief, or making rash decisions. We like the idea that—as much as for raising kids or making a relationship work—it takes a village to help couples go their separate ways with as little injury as possible.

Do you think shelters like Cabalzar's could be a wave of the future?