Advice for Divorced Dads
There are some very good divorced dads that are the primary care-giver for their children. And the trend (at least in Florida) is for more of a 50/50 split - living with both mom and dad.
However, statistically speaking, most children of divorce still live primarily with their mothers. This can present a challenge to you as a divorced dad in maintaining a regular relationship with your children.
From a mom's point of view, here are a few tips to help you stay in touch with your kids.
You have to stay a part of their routine...
Children, especially young children, do much better on a regular schedule...regular meal times and bedtime, etc. It is comforting to them to know that you are going to call at a certain time each day.
Maybe you call when they get home from school, after dinner, or before bed time. If you can't call one day, maybe you could leave a voicemail message for them to listen to.
With the popularity of cell phones, you should be able to reach your child at your scheduled time...even if they aren't at home. There are also pre-paid wireless phones that could be a 'special' way for your child to reach you.
After 2 or 3 phone calls, I'm sure they will be asking for you at your special time.
Long distance connections...
If you and your ex live in different cities, you may not get to see your child every week. There are still ways for you to connect with them over the phone.
How about 2-sets of books? Periodically, stop and pick up 2 copies of a book. Send one to your kid and keep one for yourself...Now you can read a bed-time story together.
Does your child have a favorite stuffed animal? You could take it with you during the day and take pictures of whatever it is you do - with the stuffed animal of course. Email or mail the pictures to your child on a regular basis. If your kids are old enough, they can also take pictures to send to you.
Can you video conference? It's easy to freeze up in front of a camera, but if you have the personality...set up a video conference via the web...or use a hand-held video camera to tape special events.
Do you like similar music? This may not work with teenagers, who HAVE to hate any music that you like. Maybe you can download music to create a custom CD that they can listen to at night...If you are feeling really brave, you can sing some songs to them too!
Keep your promises...
It is easy for divorced dads to over-promise out of a sense of guilt over the divorce. Do your best to keep the promises that you make, and DON't make promises that you know you can't keep.
You may THINK they will forget about that trip to the zoo...nintendo 360...or extra ice cream cone. The truth is that children are like little elephants, they never forget.
If you regularly break promises, your children won't trust you...but on a deeper level, you are showing them they aren't important to you. If I was as important as...then daddy would do...
So, if you promise to call at a certain time...take a few minutes to call.
Remember, you are THE most important role model in your children's life. You are setting the building blocks for a lifetime of relationships. As a divorced dad, you will have to try harder and get creative to set a good example...but it can be done.
Book that might be helpful...
Positive Parenting and the message you send...
If you have advice for divorced dads, click here to email me your thoughts.
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