The biggest fear that many fathers have going into the divorce process is that splitting apart the family will reduce the role they play in their kids’ lives.
Children of divorce face plenty of challenges, and it can be crippling if one parent ends up alienated out of their lives.
In many cases, these fears are warranted. Due to unfair and outdated gender stereotypes, fathers have historically gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to child custody decisions.
That is why it is critical, as soon as you realize you are headed toward divorce, to get in touch with a family law attorney who focuses on protecting fathers’ rights. A divorce attorney who understands the specific challenges dads face during the divorce process is going to be better positioned to help you achieve your goals in family court.
Fortunately, the shared parenting movement has made much progress and is continuing to make headway in restructuring state child custody statutes, so that both parents remain an active part of their children’s lives. This is critical for children of divorce as shared parenting is proven to be the best post-divorce arrangement for children.
Even if your time with your child is limited, here are some things you can do to be the best divorced dad you can be.
Commit to co-parenting with your ex
More than likely, you and your ex have your share of disagreements. That is fine since you are no longer married to this person, but you still have to co-parent, and finding an arrangement that works for both of you is in the best interest of your children.
Remain flexible, do what you can to cooperate, and work your hardest to communicate clearly and effectively. The two of you might consider co-parenting counseling to help you figure out a workable system.
Since co-parenting involves two people, you only have so much control. If your ex is especially difficult, look into a parallel parenting arrangement, which is a high-conflict model of co-parenting for couples who cannot get along.
Many of the risks children of divorce face can be mitigated by having an active and engaged father.Many of the risks children of divorce face can be mitigated by having an active and engaged father. Click To Tweet
To some extent, your involvement is going to be limited by your child custody arrangement. However, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your parenting time even if it is far less than you would like.
Do not fixate on making every outing with your child some major event. When you do that, you run the risk of becoming a “Disneyland dad.”
Instead, focus your efforts on simpler gestures. Help them with their homework. Make sure you know what they have going on at school. Play catch in the backyard.
Gameday Coffee is an organization whose entire mission is focused on fostering intentional, purposeful, one-on-one time between parents and children. The point being that even something as simple as a shared cup of coffee can be meaningful as long as you are present with your child.
Get your child help
Children of divorce face major changes even if their parents do everything possible to shield them from conflict and commit to co-parenting together. There are probably questions about your divorce your child is not comfortable asking, and to help them cope with the emotions they are experiencing you might need to enlist outside help.
As much as you and your ex love your child, there are some things they may just not feel comfortable talking to you about. Be sure to communicate with your child’s teachers, close friends, family members, and other people who are around your child a lot, to be on the lookout for unusual behavior.
If that is the case, you should consider enlisting the help of a licensed counselor or therapist to help your child transition through this process. Their professional expertise can help them gain valuable insight into what your child is experiencing, and they can give you the tools you need to help them through this adjustment.