Parenting as a newly single dad can be tough. Being a divorced dad often means that you have to do all the work yourself. If you were more hands-off during your marriage, you might not know how to handle certain situations. Your children might be missing their other parent or the way they approached things.
As a single dad after divorce, you may also struggle with difficult emotions. You may feel guilty that you weren’t able to keep the marriage together. This may influence you to over-indulge your children or try to buy material things to make up for the emotional loss they are dealing with. You might also be too soft with discipline because you are afraid of alienating your children or making them not want to visit with you.
Double The Work: Taking On Both Roles
Newly single dads often have to take on both parenting roles. Many men find the nurturing aspect difficult, especially if their spouse largely covered this role in the past.
Additionally, newly single dads might have to take on all of the household duties, too, like cooking and cleaning. Meanwhile, they must still continue their typical job and fulfill work obligations. These many competing obligations can strain the best of fathers.
Disruptive Behavior From The Kids
It is not uncommon for children of divorce to start acting out. Divorce can have a major effect on children. They may blame themselves for the divorce. They may feel abandoned because one of their parents is no longer in the home. They might suffer from social or cognitive harm, including:
- Delinquent and aggressive behavior
- Antisocial behavior
Divorce can completely change a child’s life, which helps explain why children often have trouble adapting to this change, start performing badly in school, and act out. Sometimes, the behavior is intentional and a cry for attention. Other times, children simply lack the skills to communicate how they are feeling.
Read below for some tips to help mitigate these negative behaviors and how to deal with them.
Tips on How to Be a Good Father After Divorce
Some ways to be a good single dad after divorce include:
Your children may not know the rules in your new place. Sit down with them and discuss them. Set rules and consequences and stick to them. You might worry that your kids will love you less if you’re “hard” on them, but providing a roadmap for what is and is not acceptable behavior is showing you love them.
Maintain Routine & Structure
Divorce can be disorienting. It’s easy to slip into a different lifestyle when you don’t have to take into consideration a partner’s preferences and opinions. However, children thrive on routine, structure, and consistency, so it is important to maintain as much of your children’s “normal” as possible.
Be consistent with discipline. Your kids should know that you can be trusted to maintain a stable and structured life for them.
Spend Quality Time Together
More than anything, your kid just wants to know you still love them. The best way to do this is to make time for them and to spend it in a loving way. You don’t have to be elaborate here. Playing a board game together or working on a project can be a great way to (re)connect with your child.
Maintain a Civil Relationship with Your Ex
Even if your relationship with your ex ended badly, remember that your ex is still your child’s other parent. Criticizing them can make your child defensive and seem like they are the ones being criticized. Never speak badly about your ex in front of your kids. If you can’t manage a positive co-parenting relationship in the beginning, aim for a civil or professional one. Over time, you may get better at the co-parenting thing as your emotions die down.
Look for Available Resources
There are plenty of resources for divorced dads, both locally and online; you just have to look for them. Don’t be afraid to look for advice for “dads divorce” or “how to be a good single father.” Millions of other fathers have walked the same path you are on, and you can learn from them.
One of the main ways that you can support your children through the divorce process is to consistently pay child support. Divorce can strain a family’s finances since two households must now be supported with the same amount of income. Child support helps ensure that your child has what they need, regardless of where they are living.
As part of your divorce, be sure that you understand your child support obligation, including how often it is paid, the method of payment, and the amount. If you suffer a financial setback like a disability or job loss, be sure you communicate this to your ex so that they are prepared. If the child support obligation becomes too much to handle, you may be able to seek a modification of your child support order.
Joint custody can be legal, in which you and your ex make decisions about your child together, physical, in which you share parenting time with the other parent, or both. With joint physical custody, you may have substantially more time with your child than when there is sole custody. Your child will live with you some of the time and with your ex the other part of the time. You will want to set up your home to reflect your joint custody situation, such as giving your child their own room, if possible.
When you have joint custody, you will need to co-parent with your ex in a positive manner. You will need to be prepared to discuss important things concerning your child and work as a team. You will want to be flexible where you can, such as if a work obligation affects parenting time.
At some point, you might want to get back into the dating pool. Dating as a single dad is a little different than when you were single. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
1. Consider What You’re Looking For
If you have just gotten out of a marriage, you might not be looking for anything serious. That’s okay! It can be fun to get back into the swing of things and just look for something physical to start with.
If you are looking for something more serious and considering finding a new partner, the process will be much different. You don’t only need to look for someone you are compatible with, but also someone who will get along well with your kids.
2. Start Slow
One of the biggest mistakes that men make after divorce is jumping into a serious relationship right away. This can prevent them from really grieving their marriage and also make them enter a new relationship with old baggage.
Try to ease into the dating scene. Take it slow. There is no rush. You will appreciate taking the time to get to know someone.
3. Tell Your Interest About Your Kids
You will want to tell any romantic interest you may become serious with about your kids. Do not wait too long, or your interest may feel you lied to them or misrepresented yourself. Some men might be scared this information will scare off new partners, but if your new interest runs away because you have kids, they weren’t right for you anyway. It’s better to know sooner rather than later so you don’t waste your time.
4. Be Selfish with Your Time
It is important that you are careful with your time with your new partner. You don’t want to alienate your kids or make them feel like you care more about your dating life than you do about them. If possible, try to schedule your dates when your kids are not around. Avoid having a revolving door of partners that your kids know about.
5. Wait to Introduce Your Kids
Wait to introduce your kids to your new partner until you become more serious. Schedule a brief introduction between them in a safe location. You can give your kids a brief opportunity to see your new interest and for your partner to get to know your kids a little bit.
Life as a single dad isn’t easy, but focusing on your kids and taking care of yourself can help you make the best of your new normal.