There’s many a mornings (and nights) when I think I have the toughest job in the world, and I’m not talking about my day job. Though in actual fact I would not change any of it, except perhaps sprinkle a few more trips to Fiji.
But when I see my son’s dad trying to establish a strong relationship with him, I know that things are challenging for divorced dads as well. For one thing we don’t always agree on what is best for our son, and being the custodial parent it is easier for me to have more of an input into his life.
I have been there when he is sick or wakes up at night, picked him up after school scrapes and consoled him when a friend treated him unfairly. All this has enabled us to form a very strong bond with open lines of communications. I know his dad finds it hard to communicate so our son will not tend to go to him to discuss stuff that bothers him.
Whether you have full or part-time custody of your children, as a divorced or separated dad, you will need to develop a whole new set of skills.
From watching my son and his dad tiptoe around each other, I would suggest three things that help:
- Show your love:
No matter what age they are, remember to praise you children. Give unconditional love and support, I don’t think you can ever shower them with too much love. My son feels he has to prove himself to his dad (this may only be his perception) and I can see him hurting every time he feels he came short.
- Create a routine:
Structure around meal times and bedtimes helps a child know what to expect. And if you make a promise, do your utmost to keep it. Again, seeing my son come home dejected so many times tells me he takes it hard when things have not turned out as promised.
- Prioritize family time:
Set aside time to spend with your children, just to read, play or simply cuddle together. Make them feel wanted and important.
Sometimes you will not know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory – Dr Seuss