Father’s Day is almost here, so we thought it would be nice to share some thoughts on how dads can strengthen bonds with their children after divorce. Regardless of whether the process was acrimonious or amicable, it is a fact that dynamic has changed with parents living in separate homes.
Actions speak louder than words
The chances are that dad will need to be more proactive on a day-to-day basis. Patience and understanding will also be essential as the children process the divorce and this new reality, particularly if they are acting out. Other more specific tips recommended by family experts include:
- Make your children the priority: It may be tempting to focus on yourself, but there will be plenty of alone time. Make them your priority in actions and thoughts.
- Do not disparage mom: Regardless of how they feel about your ex, resist the urge to pile on or overshare the details of the split.
- Kids are not messengers: Kids are not reliable messengers of information, nor should parents say things like “tell your mother…”. Effective coparenting requires clear communication in some agreed upon format.
- Stay in touch: Check in with the children daily via Skype, text, Facetime, or by phone if you do not see them. This enables dad to hear the daily triumphs and setbacks.
- Be reliable: Actions speak volumes when dad follows through on plans and shows up on time. Also, try to accommodate requests when mom cannot be two places at once or has something come up.
- Attend extracurricular activities and events: Try to attend soccer games, dance recitals, school field trips as well as the usual family events like birthdays. Make sure to establish direct contact with coaches, teachers and others involved in the kids’ lives.
- Let them bring friends: It is tempting to have special father-daughter time or family time but allowing them to bring friends shows self-assurance. Always make sure that it is cleared through the friend’s parents.
A chance to redefine
One of the most exciting parts of divorce will likely be the opportunity for dads to redefine and strengthen their role in their terms. Fathers can think about this and other goals as they discuss potential parenting plans or custody agreements with their attorney.