One of the worst aspects of a divorce is that it tends to destabilize the relationships fathers have with their kids.
Most divorced fathers have far less parenting time than when they were married, even if they have joint custody of the kids. This can make it difficult for fathers to stay connected with their kids after divorce.
The situation is even more devastating if the mother tries to turn the kids against their father. Fathers are placed in a position where they may have to work at regaining the trust that’s been destroyed.
Studies have demonstrated that when supportive and loving fathers are actively involved in their kids’ lives on a regular basis, they experience numerous benefits.
Here are 6 ways fathers can stay connected with their kids after divorce.
1. Keep pursuing them
Don’t check out of your children’s lives at a time when they need you more than ever. Ask questions about what is going on in their lives. Find out about important events at their schools and make time to attend and offer your support. Be as active and engaged as you can, no matter how much parenting time you’ve been allocated.
Skype them, FaceTime them, and do whatever you can to stay involved. If you want a close connection, you need regular contact to promote a loving relationship that endures through rough patches.
2. Make the most of your time together
Avoid the temptation of becoming the type of dad who so badly wants his children to enjoy their time with him that he indulges them and plans over-the-top activities.
All they really want is to feel that connection with you, and you need to make sure you give them all your attention when they’re with you. Don’t try to force activities on them, but have the flexibility to let them have input in what they want to do.
Danielle de Rossi, a psychologist at UK Best Essays, says “Kids may have a hard time letting their dads know how much they care. This should not discourage you. They want a loving relationship with both parents, and you can’t leave it up to them to make it happen, even if they’re teens or older.” She says it’s essential for dads to try to find ways to be with them in their everyday activities, such as doing homework or sports.
You have to be proactive about maintaining contact, and most times all your kid needs is a listening ear from a loving dad.
3. Make your home their home
It will be strange for your children to see you living in a new place. Do what you can to make them feel at home. If they have their own bedrooms, this tends to make them feel more secure.
It also helps a great deal if you can find somewhere to live that’s relatively close by. This is not always possible due to jobs or other circumstances, but making a sacrifice to stay close by is often worth it in terms of creating stability for the kids.
You can also encourage your kids to bring friends with them at times when they come to stay with you. It can be hard for them to lose contact with friends because they have to be with you.
4. Share interests
Find an interest you share and use it to keep your bond strong. If you’ve always enjoyed fishing with your son, now’s your chance to take him fishing on a regular basis. It will give you an opportunity to have some one-on-one time and chat.
Unfortunately, the relationship that may change the most after divorce is the one between a daughter and a father. A wounded father-daughter relationship will often affect how your daughter relates to other men in the future. You may have to make extra effort to find common interests with your daughter.
Perhaps you don’t have a shared hobby with your daughter but you know she loves cooking. You could try learning to cook together. You daughter may enjoy reading, and you could spend time reading and discussing a book together.
5. Be consistent
Don’t make promises to your kids that you don’t keep. Establishing and maintaining certain rituals can be very reassuring for them. If they know you will have pizza and watch a movie with them once a month, make sure that nothing else gets in the way of that.
Your kids will also become confused if they experience one set of rules with their mother and a different set with you. You and your ex should agree to the rules to avoid this confusion.
6. Be forgiving
When kids are going through a divorce, they often tend to act out because of their fears and insecurities. They may end up saying hurtful things to you because they don’t know how to process their turbulent emotions.
Be kind and loving instead of reacting to their bad behavior. Encourage them to talk, listen to them, and leave the door open if they want to talk about the divorce. Be honest with them without giving too many details.
It’s worth maintaining a respectful relationship with your ex-wife for the sake of your kids. Parental conflict is what causes the most anguish to kids after a divorce. If you and your ex are forgiving towards one another, your kids will be happier and adjust more easily.
This may be difficult, mainly if the divorce was a difficult one, but your kids will quickly pick up on any negativity towards their mother. Fighting with her and speaking badly about her is devastating for their mental wellbeing. You need to be able to work together if you want to co-parent effectively.
There’s no denying that the relationship between a dad and his kids is a crucial one. The quality of that connection has a powerful impact on their psychological well-being and identity. Fathers need to pursue the relationship with their kids after divorce. When both parents participate equally in co-parenting their kids after divorce, they have a better chance of becoming self-confident, resilient adults.
Warren is a marketing enthusiast and a blogger who loves music. If he doesn’t have a guitar in his hands, he’s probably embracing new technologies and marketing techniques online. You can meet him on Twitter and Facebook.