This is a guest post by Terry Gaspard, LICSW, offering divorced dad parenting advice that I think is truly valuable.
7 Ways Divorced Dads Can Stay Connected To Their Kids by Terry Gaspard
Recently, I received this heartfelt message on my website: “Please tell me how I can support my daughter in healing her relationship with me after her mom and I divorced.” This sensitive dad knows what several studies have shown: The “loss of a parent” is the most harmful consequence of parental divorce. Most often the “lost parent” is the dad.
Whenever possible, fathers need to sustain a close connection with their children – through phone calls, regular contact, daily events, holiday time, and special occasions – to promote a loving attachment that endures through rough patches. Focusing on spending time together doing pleasurable activities will help divorced dads and their kids to stay connected and will encourage positive memories in the years to come.
One of the most important things you can do as a divorced dad to maintain a loving relationship with your children is to cultivate a positive relationship with your former spouse. To the degree that you can do this – everyone ends up a winner – your kids, you, and your ex-spouse. Children whose parents bad mouth each other or have high conflict suffer greatly. It is imperative that you take the high road and avoid putting your kids in the middle so they don’t have to choose sides. Use the time you have with your children wisely to build a stable, close relationship.
7 Ways for Divorced Dads to Stay Connected With their Kids After Divorce:
- Find special ways to spend time with your kids such as sporting and recreational events. Make sure to be present for routine and everyday situations such as homework, sports, birthdays, and school events as well. Be sure to encourage your children to invite friends so they won’t lose contact with peers (this is good for their self-esteem).
- Try to understand your children’s perspective of your divorce and leave the door open if they want to talk about it. Be honest without giving them too many details.
- Offer your children reassurance that you’ll be there for them. This is especially true if you remarry and/or have one or more children or stepchildren.
- Find ways to communicate in a cordial and businesslike way with your ex. Your children’s bond with both parents will reduce their risk of low self-esteem and encourage good communication in intimate relationships throughout his/her life. Keep in mind that kids learn how to resolve conflicts by observing others and that your relationships are a template for them to follow.
- Be careful not to bad-mouth your ex-spouse or his or her family. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about his/her relationships with both of you.
- Attempt to co-parent or share parenting. Hopefully, you’ll build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively co-parent your children; and your kids will benefit from regular and frequent contact with both you and their other parent.
- Encourage involvement with extended family members. Many children who have good access to extended family see this as more intergenerational support.
Terry Gaspard, LICSW, is a therapist, speaker, coach, and the co-creator of her divorce website, MovingPastDivorce.com. She is also a Huffington Post divorce blogger and the author of the book, Daughters of Divorce. To learn more, visit: MovingPastDivorce.com