During one of his performances, great stand-up comedian Louis C.K. said a ridiculous but pretty enthusiastic and encouraging phrase: “Marriage is just like a larvae stage for true happiness, which is divorce. Divorce is forever, it really actually is. Marriage is for how long you can hack it. But divorce just gets stronger, like a piece of oak. No one ever says, ‘Oh my divorce is falling apart. I just can’t take it.” Well maybe. Wish you were right, Louis. However, if you are not just going to become a divorced man, a bachelor again, but a divorced father, you know, a part-time dad, then you will most likely have to learn how to hack the divorce too. The thing is that, anyway, this is an entirely new role, especially if you are sincerely interested in communicating with your child, so it’s worth thinking about how to meet this challenge, cope with personal stress and how to be a good dad and support of your child.
To succeed in this, let’s bust several popular divorced dad myths, which are incredibly disheartening.
- Hire the best lawyer and fight for your parental rights furiously
WRONG. Even if you broke up without broken dishes and scandals, keep in mind: to get stable access to the child, you will have to build relationships with their mother. After separation, she, by the way, faces not less stress than you do. Consider that your soon-to-be-ex-wife may be less mentally resilient than you. For example, she may erase all phones, not respond to letters, and the answering machine with her voice will repeat: “Don’t call, you bastard, never again!” Then you have only two options to make contact with the child. First, the contesting parental rights in court, but in this way, you will only strengthen the negative attitude of the other party and admit your own powerless. The second and most reasonable option is to move towards the goal peacefully and gradually.
Courts are always bad. People usually start litigation about a child while in a state of fury, being unable to negotiate and solve the matter peacefully. But the court can only strengthen the hostility so that the relationship could not be restored in any form anymore. Keep in mind that for the child, it will become an additional trauma, according to AhaParenting.
So even if the child’s mother rejects you completely, calm down. Do not rush to quarrel even more and to enter a contested divorce proceeding. In this “father’s business,” diplomacy is no less important than at the UN Headquarters, so be patient, attentive to the child and more compliant communicating with his/her mother, and be sure to try to organize your divorce as uncontested (with a jointly created and agreed parenting plan).
Over time, emotions will subside, everything will fall into place, and you will be glad that you have done the maximum for the peace and well-being of your child.
Simply put, often it happens that the less you insist on your parental rights, the more you will ultimately have these rights. Moms who are not afraid that the dad may suddenly take the baby somewhere to Nicaragua, very soon realize how wonderful is having a person living nearby who, if necessary, can look after the child with voluntarily and without an hourly fee.
- A good father is just the one who spends a lot of time with their child
WRONG. Quantity does not mean quality. Indeed, children whose fathers are always at work are less likely to have a sense of well-being. But this is not due to the fact that kids do not see daddy, but because when a father comes home, he is still under the “office” stress. Psychologists insist: “When closing the front door behind you, make sure that your work is left behind the threshold.” Unless you’re hosting children’s entertainment shows, of course.
Nature has conceived us so well that children love their parents just because they are, not because they buy radio-controlled models of trains loaded to the top with gummy bears.
You should not speculate on this, but you may always keep this in mind. This will allow you not to think that if you were not allowed to meet with the child a couple of times (you just failed to meet/ you live far away, etc.), the kid would forget you.
It is such a psychological axiom – trying to make amends by sacrificing yourself to raising a child is meaningless and will not lead to anything good. In their groundless fear, such fathers incredibly burden themselves (as well as their son/daughter) with non-existent problems. Which hardly helps to improve the parent-child relationship.
It is better not to complain about the insufficient amount of time spent together, but to spend the available hours with maximum interesting. To create real relationships with your child (let them even be complicated), you need to communicate with him/her. You have to give the child everything you can. Show what is under the car hood, let help to tighten the screws, change the wheel together, go and watch how the planes take off, look at insects, hit a punching bag, kill a five-armed monster in a PC game, buy various trinkets and skirts in stores and dress up dolls.
Do anything: for the little ones, almost everything is interesting. In this case, even if you do not have the opportunity to see the child often, each meeting will be a bright event in the everyday life of your son or daughter. Use it.
- Сhildren are the source of stress
WRONG. Most people probably think that paternity in terms of stress is like a pizza delivery job in Bangkok. In fact, children are a very relaxing factor. Studies by the University of Illinois have shown: the more time fathers spend with children, the more they are calm. And, by the way, communicating, creating, dreaming up, playing with children give to your life the sense, which seemed to have already been lost somewhere between hopeless work and monotonous parties. And this is an excellent remedy for stress.
- It’s better to distract attention from divorce
WRONG. In fact, such a desire to protect a child from stress will lead neither you nor the child to anything good. Communicating with your child, be yourself, do not be a hypocrite.
Often, when a child asks: “Why did it happen?” – Parents prefer to keep silent. The kid eventually accepts the rules of the game and stops asking questions. The kid begins to think that they do not speak about this since the truth would be too painful for him/her. You can never hide the obvious, so as not to cause a strong trauma that is sure to show up in the future.
Be sure to explain to the kid what is actually happening. The child must understand that people sometimes separate and that there is no his/her guilt here – it is only life. It is necessary to talk about what happened as frankly as possible – everything that adults are silent about is considered by children as something terrible and intolerable.
So, you see, everything is quite simple, although it makes no sense to deny that we find the simple things the most difficult when it comes to actions. These things are sincerity, directness, mutual respect, patience – in fact, the primary keys of how to be a great dad after a divorce, how not to disappoint your child and not to be disappointed in yourself.
And, to sum it all up, Onlinedivorce.com provided us with some tips on how to communicate with your kid after a divorce and about divorce:
1. The essential tabu: never speak badly of your ex-wife. It will bring nothing but harm.
2. Don’t be afraid to acquaint the child with your new girlfriend. The kid will be jealous, but for his emotional and social development, paradoxically, jealousy is very important. The child learns to take into account the opinions and desires of others.
3. Get real pleasure from meeting with your child. Stressful meetings, hysterical explanations, tensions, and fears — the child very quickly catches it, realizes that something is wrong, and begins to suffer.
4. When you cannot meet, don’t forget to call and say that you love him/her and always think about him/her.
5. In your relationship with your child, learn four simple mantras: “I love you,” “I did not leave you, I just can’t live with your mom,” “Your mother is the best,” “You are the best, and you are not guilty of anything.”