Divorce is one of the most challenging life events you can experience, and it becomes all the more difficult when there are children involved. If you are a single dad who has gone through a divorce, there are some essential things you need to know about being a parent.
It is natural for children to be more emotionally torn about their family situation. As a result, they may feel guilty for causing the split, and they might show temporary behavioral problems as a result.
But, rest assured, this won’t last forever, and your children will be better off in the long term as both parents will have an opportunity to be happy on their own – or with a new partner.
The idea of being a single father may seem daunting. But it’s not impossible, and it can be fulfilling for you, your child or children, and even your ex-spouse. So here are some tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Learn to co-parent
You’ll need to learn how to discipline consistently. Co-parenting is a bigger challenge than raising children together, and it requires a great deal of trust. You have to trust that both you and your ex-partner have the best interests of your children at heart.
Remember that children will always play divorced parents off against one another, often to try to get their way. So be wise to these little games and give your children consistent boundaries. And remember never to badmouth your ex in front of your children; this type of behavior erodes trust.
Watch out for your stress levels
You have to take care of yourself as you go through this stressful time. No child wants to be around a stressed-out parent. And it’s OK to feel sad, upset or angry. But, you should not feel guilty for feeling that way.
Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Talk with your close friends and family members about what you are going through. Spend time with others who support your situation, whether they are other single fathers/mothers.
Don’t forget about dating!
You don’t have to rush this step, but it’s important to start thinking about dating again eventually. Dating as a single dad can be daunting, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You never know who might be waiting for you.
Make sure you understand the legal aspects of child custody agreements
Gone are the days when the mother automatically gets custody, and the father only gets to see them every other weekend. More and more dads are gaining joint custody of their kids, which can mean that the mother is no longer entitled to maintenance.
If you can demonstrate that it is in your child’s best interests to split their time evenly between both parents’ houses, then don’t be afraid to fight for this. Of course, you might have to increase this over time, but you can get there if this is what you want.
Be prepared for your child(ren)’s questions and fears.
Sometimes, kids can feel like they did something wrong if their parents divorce. They may worry that you’re going to leave too.
They might worry that you could stop loving them. Kids need a little extra reassurance, and they need to know that at least one parent will allow them to talk about their feelings. You can’t control what your ex does, but you can be a loving parent to your children.
Ask for help when you need it
If needed, seek out a support group of other single fathers through divorced parents’ groups or community organisations.