Divorce can be a sticky subject to navigate, financially, emotionally, and especially when children are involved. But as with anything, time makes things hurt a little less; not necessarily heal them, but take the sting away a little bit. The most important thing after the divorce? The children, of course. You were a great dad while you were married, here’s how to be a great divorced dad.
1Get Yourself Healed
Divorce is hard on everyone. “Dads need to make sure that they are taking care of themselves if they are going to be able to be the best dad for their kids,” explains Dr. Mark Borg Jr., psychologist and author of Relationship Sanity: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships. Take time to examine your inner feelings and try to understand them. Kids want to see that their dad is okay, healthy, and yes, even happy.
2Have A Plan For Parenting
If you and your ex-wife remain civil, you should both come up with a plan together on how to parent your children. You should both have the same sets of rules at each respective home. This will keep things easier for the children, and will not confuse them with one set of rules at Mom’s and a different set of rules at Dad’s. Having these “ground rules,” as it were, will lead to less confusion all around and keep structure between both homes.
3Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
Make sure that your children know how much that you love them, and tell them that often. Stay emotionally connected to your kids, and try to talk with them as much as possible. Technology today is pretty advanced, so you can always video chat with them, text with them, and call them, even if it is just to ask how their day has been.
4Make It A Point To Attend Events
Even if you are not living in the same area as your ex-wife and children, they still will have school, which means after-school activities such as sports, science and social studies fairs, band, chorus, ballet, etc. Make it a point to attend these events. You will treasure the moment that their eyes light up when they see you there.
5Don’t Lavish Them With Gifts
This is a big don’t. It might be tempting to buy your children those new toys that they have been wanting, or taking them on a big trip to an amusement park. However, by doing this, they will come to expect gifts from you everytime they see you, and soon they will lose sight of who you are, and that is their dad.
6Quality Over Quantity
How to be a great divorced dad isn’t the amount of time that you get to spend with your children, but what you do with them. In that regard, there are plenty of things that you can do with your kids that don’t cost a lot of money but will create lasting memories. Take them to a park, have a picnic, go on a hike, sit outside and look at the stars together with mugs of hot cocoa. Those are just a few examples; there are plenty more that you can come up with!
7Keep Talk Positive
When it comes to talking about your ex-wife – their mom – keep the talk about her positive and upbeat. You don’t want to project any negative feelings that you may have about her onto your children. If they mention their mother up, just try to keep the chat upbeat, and if you can, drive the conversation in a different direction. But always allow them to express their feelings about the divorce and separate living situations.
8Above All – Love
Over everything else, let your children know how very much they are loved by you, and how that will never, ever change. Tell them often, as much as you can. Make it clear that you will always be there for them, no matter what may come. That you will always be their dad.