While your life will drastically change during and after your divorce, you won’t be able to hold a candle to what your children will go through. Even though there will be a million obstacles to maintaining a relationship with your child, it’s critical that you overcome them.
A vacuum will have been created by your divorce, and you need to be around so that your child doesn’t fill that vacuum with something seedy or dangerous.
Prevent Bad Things From Happening
Data from the US Census Bureau tells us that children with no father in their lives are more vulnerable to experiencing some serious roadblocks. In addition to 80% of prisoners coming from homes with no father, children without active fathers are:
- Seven times more likely to experience teen pregnancy
- More likely to experience substance abuse
- Perform worse in school than their peers and risk being left behind, and
- Four times more likely to live in poverty.
How to Remain a Positive Force in Your Child’s Life
Even though you’re no longer under the same roof, there are some fairly simple things you can do to remain a powerful influence on your child.
Technology provides wonderful options for divorced dads. Get on a regular schedule for talking with your child. Even if it’s first thing in the morning or right after school, your child needs to know that your voice will be heard at specific times. Routine is an especially good thing at this time in your child’s life. Even simple texts like “How did your test (or game) go today?” can mean a world of difference.
Take the High Road With Your Ex
Your child is watching how you and your ex interact. It’s imperative that both of you be seen as a team in raising your child. No one wins when both of you are arguing. The differences between you and your ex have been settled in court; there’s no reason to rehash the messiness of the causes in front of your children. You and your ex still have a job to do in raising your child, and whether you realize it or not, you need your ex’s support, she needs yours – and your child desperately needs both of you.
Even if you’re a couch potato, be the motivation to your child getting outdoors and experiencing nature. If you have shared custody, seek out trails to take your child for a hike and share your plans with them in advance. This gives your child something to anticipate and get excited about in looking forward to your time together. If you’re not experienced as an outdoorsman, think of it as an adventure you and child can share together.
Be With Them Whenever Possible
Believe it or not, your visits mean a great deal to your child. Whatever you do, don’t call them at the last minute to change plans; your child needs to know you can be counted on. Change things up a bit by having lunch with your child at their school.
In addition to sending cards on birthdays and holidays, send one completely out of the blue – perhaps with a photo of your recent hike together – just to say that you have them on your mind.
The bottom line is this: even though your marriage has ended, your responsibilities as a dad have not. Let your children know how important they are to you. While they may not always tell you, deep inside, you mean a great deal to your child.
Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Men’s Legal Center so that we can give you advice and help in this new chapter of your life. Our office is located in San Diego, California, but we proudly serve husbands, fathers and non-custodial parents in many surrounding areas.