The upheaval and change that comes with divorce can make finding your bearings difficult. Changes in schedules, living situations, and finances often create uncertainty and stress as you try to navigate through the dissolution of a marriage. Doing the following three things everyday can help create structure and consistency for both you and your child(ren) during the divorce.
Spend quality time with your child(ren)
Remaining an engaged and involved parent is critical during a divorce. Kids want to hang out with their dad and setting aside time everyday to spend time with your kids can have far reaching benefits.
Actively finding ways to engage with your kids on a daily basis can provide emotional reassurance. Setting aside time for your child(ren) everyday will allow to you continue to play a principal (and indispensable) role.
Daily quality time with your kids has the secondary benefit of exhibiting to the court the importance of your role as a father. This can have substantial impact on how parenting time is allocated in the divorce. When evaluating a proposed parenting plan, the courts seek to create the least amount of disruption to the child(ren). Establishing a status quo of involvement demonstrates the irreplaceable and essential nature of your relationship with your child.
The logistics of spending time with you child(ren) on a daily basis can be challenging for many fathers. Getting creative will work in your favor. Even if circumstances don’t allow you to physically be in the same place as your kids, you can find alternate solutions for staying connected.
Some resourceful solutions we have seen include:
•Virtual sports game—scheduling a time to Facetime/Skype/Google Hangout and watch a sports event together
•Phone call bedtime story—Buy two copies of your child’s favorite story and call them each night at bedtime to read the book together over the phone.
•Virtual homework help— using whatever technology works best for you, connect with your child each night to provide help with homework.
Find ways to manage stress
Even the most amicable divorce is stressful. Finding constructive outlets for stress is important for maintaining your sanity throughout the process. Unexpected issues will arise and conflict with your ex can be common. Having a plan in place to deal with the detours can help you manage your ability to keep your goals and needs in focus. Getting caught up in the emotional hurricane can hijack your ability to protect what is most important.
Additionally, having a plan for managing stress will allow you to stay focused on adapting to co-parenting. Having the tools to handle difficult conflicts and avoid volatile situations that may have a negative impact on your parenting time is another added benefit.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for managing stress. Every divorce is unique and finding strategies that work for you and your situation is often an exercise in trial and error. A few common strategies we have noticed:
- Working with a therapist to address emotional issues.
- Increasing physical activity. Running, playing team sports, or going to the gym can provide a plethora of stress relieving benefits.
- Joining a single-dad’s support group.
Your kids want to know that you are there for them when they need you. Being accessible to your child(ren), their caretakers, and even your ex, demonstrates your commitment to being a permanent fixture in your child(ren)’s life.
- Returning emails, texts, and phone calls (unless there are explicit reasons for limiting contact) in a timely manner is a solid first step in successfully co-parenting.
- Being available for last minute opportunities is also helpful. Things like picking up your child from school if they are sick, or picking them up from daycare (at mom’s request) if mom can’t make it.
Accessibility is important, but it there is a fine line to walk. You want to be available for your children and be respectful of your ex’s parenting time.
Without proper communication, well-intentioned acts can be misconstrued as a violation of temporary orders.
Maintaining your relationship with your child(ren) through the divorce might have its challenges, but it is worth it. Divorce and custody issues can be complicated and confusing and getting accurate answers can be difficult. If you have questions about divorce, custody, or any other family law issue, we are here to help. We are happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation.