As a divorced dad, you may feel like you don’t get the time with your kids that married dads do. Or perhaps you are not sure how to make the most of the time you do have together. Or maybe you live with your children full-time, and between work and other responsibilities, you may not be sure how to make special time to be with your kids.
Being a divorced dad presents unique challenges, but they can be overcome. Here are some tips for how you can make the most of your time with your kids as a divorced dad.
Look at it this way, unlike some dads who are married to their kids’ moms, you have the opportunity to set aside time with your child and make it part of your schedule. Ironically, this may mean you get to spend more quality with your kids than married dads!
Being married is not a guarantee that a dad is engaged with his kids. So if you have a negative outlook about the time you get to spend with your kids, think positively. You have the opportunity to be more effective if you are an engaged, divorced dad than if you are a married, disengaged one.
Plan the Time:
While it’s good to leave room for spontaneity, planning your time can help you make the most of it.
First, find out what your kids will have to do while they are in your care: homework, sport practice, Scouts, etc. Then you can plan for these activities and make use of them to engage your kids. For instance, you can help with their homework or plan activities that allow for homework time first. You can attend their sports practice or Scout meeting and help out. If it’s a regular activity, you can volunteer to help on those times.
You’re the Parent:
If you only have your children for a day or two a week or several days a month, you may be tempted to be “Disneyland Dad” during these times. It’s wonderful to have fun, but experts note that you shouldn’t forget that you are still your kids’ parent. That means that discipline and teaching still applies. Ultimately, sources say your kids will respect you more if you really parent when you’re together instead of just throwing all the rules aside.
Think Beyond the Paper:
The divorce paperwork is in place to prevent disputes, but if you and your kids’ mother are in agreement, then you don’t have to get too hyper about the paperwork. For instance, your divorce papers may say you get your children every other Thanksgiving; but your ex wants to take the kids out of town on your year.
Instead of insisting that the papers be followed to the letter, think about what would be best for the kids. Would they enjoy going out of town? Can you ask for extra time at Christmas in exchange for giving up your Thanksgiving time? It’s a good idea to be flexible and remember it’s about your kids and what’s healthiest for them.