Unfortunately, some fathers disconnect from their children when they divorce. With a little thought, the divorce can open the door to connecting with your kids in a way that was never possible before. You may have limited time and opportunities; make the most of them and be the dad they need to develop into confident adults.
When you were still married, you had others’ expectations hanging over you. Your parents, her parents, and she, all had expectations of what being a good dad was all about. Even Dr. Phil would chime in on how you should be doing the job. Remember, when it comes to your children, you are the expert. Identify your expectations, your goals and what you will accept.
Often, divorced fathers spend more time with their children after the divorce than they ever did while the marriage was still intact. Own it and celebrate it, because when they skin their knee on your watch they’re coming to you for that TLC.
Don’t worry about filling their life with gifts, vacations or even keeping them entertained. If you spend time with them being a father, not a babysitter, you might just find they’re as happy just to be with you. Focus on building great memories.
The kids don’t have just one home, and they visit you. They live with you, too.
They have two homes, embrace that, and own that too. One with mom and with dad. If the kids can adapt between one set of rules at home and another set at school, they can adapt to two different sets of rules, one in each of their homes. Remember, “But Mom lets us …” doesn’t carry any more weight in your house than “But Dad lets us …” carries in hers. Perhaps even having a shared basic set of rules to provide balance and consistency your child’s life. These rules may be managed differently in each house, that is to be expected, but it will reduce the ‘Dad lets us..’, “Mom lets us..’ scenarios.
You have a gut instinct that will tell you when it is all right for your child to stay up late, when it is ok to be interrupted on the phone, and when the situation calls for some stern rules. You’ll also know when a no-holds-barred, family wrestling match is called for. Learn to listen to the inside father and you will get to know him. The process will make you the kind of dad your kids are meant to have.
Often, mothers and fathers feel they must be the martyr to make the now-divorced parenting process work. You don’t have to choose between being a coParent all the time or a single father. With a little planning and a lot of communication with the kids, you can find you still have a life that you can enjoy.
Divorcing the ex does not mean divorcing the entire family.
Over the coming weeks and months, we are going to go deeper on what it means to be a coParenting Dad. See and hear how other dads are reinventing themselves, building new homes, and great memories and keeping the kids in the center.