At DadsDivorce, we’re committed to providing divorced fathers the resources and support they need to navigate life as a divorced dad.
Even though gender stereotypes in the family court system have a way of making fathers feel like secondary parents, we strongly believe that although you are a divorced dad, you are still a dad.
In fact, your kids need you now more than ever. We know that children of divorce face many challenges, and it is your job to do whatever you can to look out for their best interests. That means becoming the best father you can possibly be.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you take your “dad game” to the next level.
Han-Son Lee, of DaddiLife, says a simple thing dads can do to become more engaged fathers is really focus on the idea of being present when spending time with your children.
What he means by that is getting the most out of the time you spend with them. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by phone calls or text messages. Give your full time and attention to them.
Time is precious in this day and age and there is always the temptation to try to multi-task. As a divorced father, you might feel additional pressure because the amount of parenting time you have with your children could be limited.
But Lee says taking just a little time every day to devote yourself fully to your kids can make an enormous difference.
“Sometimes just five or 10 minutes of quality time can actually be as powerful or more powerful as two to three hours of mediocre time,” Lee said. “I think it’s really about how dads can overcome and have that sense of self-awareness and that sense of fulfillment and happiness that we find a lot more dads have by really being present with their children.”
Get involved at school
When you were married, maybe your wife handled most of the parenting duties related to your kids’ school activities such as PTA meetings, helping with homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc.
Well now it’s time for you to get very involved in what’s going on at your kids’ school. Make sure you know what they’re learning each day and what subjects are difficult for them. Find out if you can help in any way. Encourage them to get involved in extra-curricular activities.
And while you do not need to disclose all the details of your divorce, it is a good idea to let your kids’ teachers know that you’ve gone through a divorce recently and your child is dealing with a different living arrangement. That way they know to be on the lookout for potential behavioral issues they can head off before they become a larger issue.
Keep the peace
Divorce naturally tends to breed conflict. It is a stressful and emotional and a lot of people end up with bitter feelings by the time the final decree is issued.
It is very important for you to do whatever you can to carry a mature and positive attitude through this process. That means letting bygones be bygones and putting old arguments with your ex behind you.
Research has shown that it’s not necessarily divorce that harms children when their parents split but rather the amount of conflict they are exposed to. Therapist Terry Gaspard notes that it is far too common for bickering parents to pull their children into their disagreements and that can have disastrous consequences.
“Truth be told, parents forget that children are vulnerable to feeling in the middle between their parents’ arguments,” Gaspard said. “High parental conflict can send them into high alert. As a result, (children) may have difficulty sleeping, concentrating on school or social activities, or be plagued with fear and anxiety about their future.”
No matter how much you dislike your ex, your kids will be much better off if you can find a way to effectively co-parent. If your ex insists on starting pointless fights, you might consider enlisting the help of a co-parenting counselor or trying a parallel parenting model.
Utilize parenting resources
There is also an entire network of dad blogs on the internet that you can use to help you improve your fathering skills.