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Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach with expertise in sustainability and mindfulness and a writer at Online Divorce. She helps people overcome life challenges and build a happier life.
According to data obtained by the US Census Bureau, child custody statistics from 2018 show that about 80% of the 12.9 million custodial parents in the US were mothers.
While the common belief is that mothers should be granted full custody as they are considered primary caregivers, more and more couples today seek an equal share of quality time with their kids.
No matter the final decision on sharing custody, the question of “How to raise a child after divorce?” still exists. This article will help answer the question of how to be a good father after divorce.
Tip #1. Come Up With a Plan During the Divorce Process
When facing the critical decision of child custody, you shouldn’t focus only on the custody itself. Instead, your main goal should be a reasonable parenting plan, as almost everything will depend on it later.
Today, it’s not rare for mothers to be somewhat considerate about shared parenting time after splitting up with the child’s father. The mental health and healthy behavioral patterns of a kid depend highly on the presence of two parents in their life, so it’s only fair to find a way to raise a child together, even if separately.
So instead of focusing on a custody agreement, work on a parenting plan which would be reasonable and fair for all the parties involved. Never underestimate the necessity of sharing quality time with your kid.
Tip #2. Avoid Inconsistent Parenting
Famous Australian actress Isla Fisher once said: “You can’t underestimate how traumatic divorce is for children.” And she couldn’t be more right about this.
Throughout this complicated period, children tend to strive for the undivided attention of their caregivers. Thus, your parenting must be consistent to make your separation less traumatizing and your further bond stronger.
Undoubtedly, co-parenting requires a lot of discipline from both parents. No one will blame you for not putting your personal life aside. However, your kid will definitely remember unkept promises and abandoned holiday plans.
It’s vitally important to present a united front while taking care of a kid and have each other’s backs if either of you can’t keep up with promises made. There is nothing more reassuring for your child than you being there for them every time they expect you to be.
Tip #3. Make the Most of the Time You Spend Together
After divorce, being a good dad is not that challenging if you remain involved in your child’s life. Keep up with their routines, engage in fun activities, and try to make the most of the time you and your kid spend together.
Try to be involved in their interests and hobbies and never depreciate their aspirations, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. Each hobby helps your child develop and improve their knowledge, so inspire them and let them create, and they will appreciate it.
A piece of advice for separated fathers is to make memories with your child, as they need those to feel that special bond with you. At the end of the day, they may not remember the whole setting, but they will remember you being there for them.
A great comic artist from Toronto known under the pseudonym Lunarbaboon shared a wise insight on his website.
Tip #4. Keep Things Amicable and Respectable With Your Ex
For some couples, this tip may seem virtually impossible, and yet, keeping things amicable, at least in front of your kids, is crucial. If you want to be a better dad, never let your child be caught in the crossfire of your hot button arguments with their mother.
Your child isn’t responsible for your divorce, and they need both their parents to respect each other to form healthy relationship patterns for their future life. Be a father role model for your child – teach them respect and manners.
In the long run, if both parents manage to keep their relationship amicable after separation, it will help their children feel safe and loved by both parties. Eventually, this will lead to a much greater chance for them to create a healthy family.
Tip #5. Help Your Kid Adapt to Life in Two Different Worlds
When separated, both parties learn to function separately, creating a new set of rules for each household. While it can seem nice for the parents, a child may struggle to adapt to these new rules.
Imagine living simultaneously in 2 worlds with different sets of rules. It sounds quite confusing, right? And yet, you want your child, who may still be in distress after your separation, to keep up with these rules daily.
The best way to avoid confusion is to discuss co-parenting topics with your ex-spouse and figure out basic household rules to be followed. You may also set some personal boundaries with the kid for the rest of the minor issues. If you want them to help you clean the house on the weekends – think of a way to engage them and make it an interesting activity rather than a chore. If you don’t want loud music after 10 p.m. – just ask them.
Tip #6. Listen to Your Child
Fathers after divorce often suffer from a lack of clear communication with their kids. Still, this communication is the foundation of your relationship.
You will have to master one skill to have trust and openness with your kid – it’s an ability to listen. No matter how hard it may sometimes be to listen to the tons of idle chatter about school or video games, paying attention to what your child has to say is essential.
Not every kid can reflect on their feelings or talk directly about their problems. Show them that you hear them and that you really care about their emotional wellbeing. Never underestimate the power of listening, as it may help you find a way to your child’s heart.
Tip #7. Love Your Kid
Many children experience behavioral changes following the divorce of their parents, which may vary depending on their age.
You may notice how your pre-school age child suddenly starts to act demanding or rebellious or how your adolescent struggles academically or shows signs of delinquent behavior.
In reality, the only thing they need from you despite their age is your unconditional love. And what is unconditional love? It’s when your kid can feel accepted and approved of, when they can be open about their life and preferences, or when you let them make their own decisions and mistakes and don’t judge them afterward. And having that, they will be able to overcome all the obstacles on their way. After all, the greatest gift you can give to your child is your love, time, and attention.
Divorce and parents’ separation can feel like too much on the plate for the kids. It is undoubtedly a difficult transition to go through, and it can’t go smoothly without the parents’ love and support. This is the time for you as a parent to become a key figure in your child’s life and help them build a strong personality.
Your contribution to their life may save them long hours of therapy in the future. Let your kid avoid the traumas and help them overcome these challenges without feeling lost or abandoned.
Do your best to let your kids know that you are always there for them and that you are ready to do whatever it takes to see them happy. And even if it’s a Saturday night when they are staying at their mom’s house, let them feel like you’re just a cellphone call away, and you will always answer their call.
You might also be interested in: 10 Signs of Bad Parenting [And Ways To Improve]
How To Be A Good Dad After A Divorce:
- Come Up With a Plan During the Divorce Process
- Avoid Inconsistent Parenting
- Make the Most of the Time You Spend Together
- Keep Things Amicable and Respectable With Your Ex
- Help Your Kid Adapt to Life in Two Different Worlds
- Listen to Your Child
- Love Your Kid