If there’s one thing most of us dads fear the most is the inability to regularly spend quality time with our kids.
Sadly, when a marriage finally comes to an end, and dissolves and happy memories with your other half begins to fade away, the fear of any great dad begins to surface.
Fears such as the inability to see your child even on a semi-regular basis begin to legitimize themselves.
These 10 helpful tips for being a great dad after the divorce was written with this fear in mind:
- Never ever bad mouth your ex
- Know your legal rights
- Limit the use of technology around them
- Plan ahead
- Choose your kids over partying
- Don’t expose them to new relationships
- Call them every night
- Stay involved in their activities
- Keep your commitments
- Be patient through the whole process
I’d like to point out that there are literally dozens of tips and pieces of advice to go on, however, single dads I’ve spoken with all had these in common.
Let’s take a moment and unpack what they mean.
1. Never Ever Bad Mouth Your Ex:
Perhaps if there’s one thing you are really in control of after a divorce when children are involved is that the kids are used as a pawn during the whole aftermath of a break-up.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for one parent to bash the other parent in the hopes of gaining favoritism among their kids.
What happens, however, is the opposite effect where the kids will internalize the hatred projected from the parents and act out in other ways at school and around other children.
Not only will children act out outside of the home, but they will begin to act out inside the home as well.
Moreover, kids won’t remain kids forever, and as they develop and mature into adults this also has the potential to stain whatever bond you worked so hard to develop.
2. Know Your Legal Rights:
Contrary to popular belief, the mother has no legal right to withhold visitation rights from the father seeking access to their children.
In fact, children are often treated as property and not human beings which is sad really.
I wasn’t aware, but there’s an actual psychological term called malicious parent syndrome.
Without getting too much into the actual syndrome itself, some of the attributes include:
Attempts to punish the divorcing parent though alienating their children from the other parent and involving others or the courts in actions to separate parent and child.
Lies to their children and others repeatedly and may engage in violations of law;
If this sounds like something you are the recipient of realizing that you DO have rights, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the net, but here’s a great article I found on Wikipedia that is a great starting point for anyone who is serious about executing their rights as a dad.
You can also join the Father’s Rights Movement and be a part of something that is at the vanguard of change.
3. Limit The Use Of Technology Around Them:
One of the most disturbing trends I see in parenting is the excessive use of utilizing technology in place of decent parenting.
In the age of smartphones; internet; tablets; television and video games it’s certainly easy to get caught up with technology to the point where most are not even aware that it’s become an all-consuming being that controls their lives and the lives of their children.
To be the best dad and become a great dad after divorce, you must go the extra mile by giving your kids the attention they need to cope with the scenario they currently face.
4. Plan Ahead:
When you’re dealing with something as messy as divorce, one of the first things you have to realize is that the time you have is more limited than the time you once had with your children.
Because it is likely that you no longer see your kids on a daily basis you need to plan strategically around work and other factors to ensure that they receive the best care possible.
You may want to initiate a trip to the Zoo or a sporting event to give them something to really look forward to your next visit.
Also, by establishing concrete plans with your children also sends a strong message to your ex that your time with them has already been cemented, and she may be less inclined to play silly games by making excuses to hold them back.
5. Choose Your Kids Over Partying:
In many instances, the temptation to go out and reacquaint themselves with long lost friends who love to party becomes a temptation that is too difficult to resist.
Although this may not apply to you, I do want to address this area because consuming drugs and alcohol is a path that some dads go down during and after a messy divorce.
Although difficult, it’s important to realize that the ultimate prize is your children, and more than ever they will need you to remain strong and healthy for them.
It’s not uncommon to hear about a change in their overall behavior, bad grades at school, and shutting down mentally are al very common responses to any separation.
Divorce is a very difficult time for everyone, and by remaining committed to them will help ease the transition.
6. Don’t Expose Them To New Relationships:
I get it, you fall in love and the feeling you get from her makes you want to shout at the top of your lungs with joy.
The problem, however, is that when you have children it becomes a more sensitive area for them – especially when they are used to seeing you with their mom.
I’m certainly not saying that you should never introduce them to your new love, but do it strategically.
In my view, it’s much healthier for them until you really get to know them first to ensure that your relationship is not just a fling.
One of the most damaging things you could do is introduce them to multiple partners, only to have things break off shortly.
7. Call Them Every night:
Although your kids most likely will not be living with you fulltime – unless you cemented some type of relationship where you both get joint custody – you will want to maintain a daily relationship with them.
Not only will this help them ease with the transition, but this will also serve as a way to keep their self-esteem from plummeting.
When I was in this exact situation I used to call my daughter every night just to reassure her that everything would be alright, and to reinforce plans we made for the coming weekend when she would come over.
Not only did she feel constant love from me, but it also served as a way to reinforce some stability and normalcy in her life.
8. Stay Involved In Their Activities:
I understand that going through a divorce or dealing with the aftermath of one is challenging.
Maybe you also feel depressed or have some lingering resentment, but it’s absolutely essential that you stay actively involved in their activities.
One of the worst things you can do is wallow in your sorrows while your kids suffer and pay the penalty for something that’s not their fault.
I get it, she may be a horrible person and she may have initiated the divorce in the first place, but from a psychological point of view, this also shows her that you have not lost control of your kids.
Ultimately, though, this is about the betterment of the kids so always try and keep this in perspective when it seems you are losing hope.
By staying active and involved in your children’s activities means you absolutely care about them, and she can’t dictate the terms of your happiness (not to mention the happiness of your kids as well).
9. Keep Your Commitments:
I know it sounds cliche, but honoring your commitments with your children will go a long way in cementing yourself as a great father and a man who actually gives a damn about them.
During or even after any divorce, kids generally will take a hit at their self-esteem level.
Although overlooked, being there or keeping a promise when you say you’re going to do something also goes a long way in helping kids maintain healthy self-esteem as well.
10. Be Patient Through The Whole Process:
I get it, being in this position sucks, and what’s frustrating about the whole process is not only do you suffer from a financial standpoint, but the feeling you get from what seems like a total loss of control is like a sucker punch to the gut.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering when, if ever, will it all end?
I can assure you that if you follow these 10 helpful tips for being a great dad after the divorce, you will be walking more confidently down what seems like a dark and dreary path.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, trust the process, and don’t ever give up fighting for your kids. They love you unconditionally, so always keep this in mind when things become too much to bear.
Going through a divorce is difficult, I’m not going to lecture you otherwise. I was involved in a common-law relationship back in 2000.
With a 3-year-old daughter it was difficult enough, and I can’t imagine the immense problems that occur for those folks who have to go through an actual divorce (considering there would most likely be lawyers involved in the process as well).
It’s because of my past and the messages I receive from other dads out there who are super frustrated that they can’t see their kids, and the dads out there who feel alone and vulnerable.
I hope these 10 helpful tips for being a great dad after divorce, and if you have your own story you would like to share by all means leave it in the comment section below.
I am here to help, so feel free to reach out to me if I can help in any way shape or form.