Ending a relationship can take a toll on all the people who are involved. More so, if they have children together, it can be heartbreaking – having to see your picture-perfect family not being the same anymore. However, a couple can make it work if they agree on co-parenting civilly for the sake of their children.
Let’s go through the single dad’s parenting guide in more detail.
1. Make Your Kids a Priority
After going through a divorce, your kids will likely be confused as to what has happened. They might have questions like, “Why don’t all of us live together anymore?”, and “Why do my friend’s parents live together, but not mine?” As a dad, you should have a reasonable explanation, without going into great detail (ideally in collaboration with their mom so that you both have the same message). Also, some children who witness a separation between their parents may develop disruptive behaviors, which hinders them to perform well academically. They might also become depressed but hide it by keeping their feelings bottled up. As a dad, your main priority is to make sure they aren’t hurting. Try to spend as much time as you can with them to make them feel as if nothing has changed.
2. Distant but Connected
If you haven’t been granted custody of your kids, you’re put in a painful situation. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be close to your kids. Don’t let physical distance come in the way of a great relationship you can share with your child. You can always swing by to read a bedtime story, take them out on the weekend for ice cream or to the local park, or go see the latest blockbuster. Be invested in their lives, ask about how things are at school, help them with their homework, go to their parent-teacher meetings, etc. You can be a great single dad; just take the time to invest fully in your children’s lives.
3. Watch Over Them
Sometimes, the family is split even further as you (or your ex) may have to relocate because of a job opportunity or due to the nature of your housing situation. When your kids don’t see you as often, they may show signs of resentment. To prevent this, you can always show them you care by sending care packages, gifts, and letters/cards telling them how much you miss and love them. This shows them that their dad is always there no matter what and that they can reach you whenever they want. In addition, make frequent video or telephone calls. TIP: Make it a routine to call them before they go to bed.
4. Co-Plan Financial Expenses
Since you and your ex-partner have graciously decided on co-parenting your children together, an effective method would be to plan your child’s expenses together. Meaning, make a budget and allot certain expenses to each’s share. For example, who gets to pay for the child’s field trip this semester? Or who gets to take them back to school shopping for clothes or supplies? Mutually planning out your child’s expenses can result in harmonious co-parenting, and each parent will be well prepared for the expense they’re about to incur. This is quite a useful tip for people who have suddenly entered into a co-parenting situation.
TIP: Make it a routine to call them before they go to bed.
5. Be Careful Who You Date
It’s perfectly all right to move on after a split. However, who you decide to bring into your kids’ lives is something that should be carefully thought out. Your kids might not feel so positively about this, as a part of them will think that you’ve replaced their mother. Kids are impressionable, and they obviously do not understand the complications of adult relationships. Nonetheless, you should ensure that whoever you begin dating treats your kids with love and respect as well. Your current partner shouldn’t come between you and your kids, nor should they cross any such boundaries.
6. Parenting Plan
As co-parents, you and your ex-partner are in an untraditional situation that both of you would have to make work for the sake of your children. You should make plans or schedules about who gets the kids on particular days. Jointly agree on those schedules and make your kids feel normal about the current situation. A parenting plan entails the arrangement of what both the parents’ responsibilities are regarding their children. Making a parenting plan and successfully implementing it should make it easier for all you dads out there to have some good quality time with your kids.
Being a single dad can be tough. However, if you’re willing to do anything for your child (which we’re sure you are), you should be on your way to become the best dad in the world (if you aren’t already). While growing up, kids look up to their dads a lot as they consider them to be their own personal superheroes, ones who protect and take care of anything and everything their kids go through.
You’re doing a great job as a dad, and we pay kudos to you for that!