The most heartbreaking aspect of divorce for many fathers is the way in which the process destabilizes the relationship they have with their kids.
Far too often, gender stereotypes within the family court system result in fathers getting the short end of the stick in child custody decisions. Even if a dad manages to gain a 50-50 split, that still is much less parenting time than he enjoyed while married.
With many fathers sidelined to a sort of secondary parent role, the relationship they have with their child starts to suffer. This is even worse if the mother attempts to turn the child against the father through the process of parental alienation.
If you feel your ex is strategically trying to turn your child against you, it might be worth contacting your family law attorney to see if there is anything that can be done. A divorce lawyer focused on father’s rights might be able to prove that a child support modification is in your child’s best interest.
After such a traumatic experience as divorce, the child might have lost trust in his or her dad. As challenging as it is, you must do what you can to rebuild that trust and find ways to connect with your child even though you are sharing custody.
Here are some ways for divorced dads to connect with their kids.
The most important thing any father can do to stay connected with his child after divorce is to stay active and engaged regardless of how much parenting time you are allotted.
Make sure you ask plenty of questions about what is going on at school and in their everyday lives. Encourage them to talk about their worries and what stresses them, including any emotional turmoil they are experiencing because of your divorce.
Find out when they have big events and sporting events going on at school so you can make arrangements to attend and offer your support.
You might be frustrated with the child custody arrangement you received, but that is no excuse to check out. Your child needs an active and engaged father in their life now more than ever.
Find a new shared hobby
You should avoid the temptation of becoming a “Disneyland Dad” after divorce in which you plan some elaborate trip or outing every time your child stays with you, but the period after a divorce is an opportune time to develop some new hobbies that you and your child both enjoy.
Maybe you have always wanted to take your child fishing, or you could try learning how to cook together. Pick any activity you both have an interest in that will encourage one-on-one time in which you can chat and bond with each other.
Divorce is a scarring experience, not just for you but also for your ex-wife and your child.
Your child’s heartache might cause them to act out and even say some things to you that hurt you. Understand that this is natural. At their age, it is difficult for them to know how to process their emotions. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Let them know that it is perfectly fine to feel angry and upset.
By encouraging them to be honest about their emotions, you are getting them one step closer to making it through this transition.
It also is in your best interest to be empathetic toward your ex. This is understandably difficult, especially if your divorce was not amicable. However, she is the mother of your child and it is best if they can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with her. That is a lot easier if they see the two of you working together to effectively co-parent.