Gone are the days when courts rubber-stamped court orders granting custody of the children to the mother by default. But the fact remains that many men are their family’s breadwinner. If they have to work long hours to meet the bills and cover child support, that may not leave them with a lot of time to meaningfully connect with their kids.
So, how can a divorced father maintain and strengthen the innate bond between them and their children? Below are some suggestions newly separated and divorced dads may want to keep in mind.
Let them know you love them
If there is one thing that is imperative, it is this important tidbit. Kids of all ages tend to internalize their parents’ divorces and may take on the mantle of blame for the collapse of the marriage. Make sure that your children are secure in your and their co-parent’s love and that your time with them reflects your strong bond so they never feel anything less than your unconditional love.
Treat your co-parent civilly
Don’t disparage your ex within earshot of the kids – or ever, if you can help yourself. Kids see and hear a lot more than they let on, so don’t speak negatively about your co-parent.
You don’t need to buy their love
There is a stereotype about the “Disneyland Dad,” and that’s not who you want to become. It is unfair for one parent to have to be the disciplinarian while the other one gets to have all the fun with the kids. If you want to be more than an open wallet to your children, do things that they enjoy that don’t break the bank. Toss the football, build a treehouse and spend the weekend hiking along the trails with them.
Remember, too, that mediation can often lead to better results for all the parties than protracted litigation. Parents can save time and money by working together to create the best custody agreement for their minor children.