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keep being a great dad even after divorce

Divorce is never easy. When there are children involved, divorce is especially hard because as a parent, the last thing you want to do is to separate your time from your children. You want to be able to see them everyday like you always have done, and you want to be able to sit with them and read their bedtime story like you always have done. Unfortunately, that's just not how it goes after a marriage has broken down.

Honestly, it doesn't even matter why the marriage has broken down, because if you're a father, that doesn't change. You have separated from their mother. You are moving forward with your life as a single person, but you are not absolved of your responsibility of being a dad. In fact, it's even more important now that you are connected to your children, even if you don't live with them full-time. You have to consider it like having custody of your kids, even part of the time, means that they need to have your full attention 100% of the time, even when you're not there. Even when all you are is at the end of a telephone. 

There are too many common stories of divorce custody hearings being pushed onto the mother, and that's fine if she's the primary carer. But it's after that point that the problems start. It's after that point that father's often disengage and disconnect and disappear. All of these things are devastating to a child, but they are also devastating to you as a father, and you can do better. So let's take a look at how you can be the best of you while you father your children post divorce. 

Swallow Your Pride

During the divorce proceedings and during the custody hearings, you need to swallow your pride, your anger and your pain and keep your children at the forefront of your mind. When you face the critical decision of what's best for the children, it may not always be what's best for you. If you are working full time and often away from the home, then you may already see that the children's best interest is to live with their mother full time and have that as their consistent home and see you as often as possible around that.It may hurt, and that's OK; You can work past that with a therapist, but you have to make sure that you are swallowing your pride and not being quick to anger during custody proceedings. You need to consider a parenting plan because even if you and your ex do not like each other, you both have created children together so you can't hate each other because your children have parts of each other in them.

Don't Be Inconsistent

Once you make a plan to see your children, don't chop and change your days because plants have come up. If you're the father and you have someone invite you to something on your parenting weekend, you need to learn to say no. You are not a single person in terms of the fact that you did not break up with your children. You still need to see them as scheduled and regularly so that they know that you are consistent and reliable. If it's your weekend to have the children and something comes up that you can't avoid, then it's your responsibility to make sure that other childcare is arranged and don't put that back on the mother of the kids.

Work To Present A United Front

When it comes to parenting, you and your ex still have to work together. You still have to talk to each other, and you still have to learn to communicate, even when you've hurt each other irreparably. You have to put that to one side and compartmentalize it so that you can work together for your children. Presenting that united front will mean that you're not being played off of one another and one of you isn't trying to to beat the other one because this is not a competition. How you handle this divorce will determine how your children manage their relationships from now on, and that is a big responsibility. If your children see you fight, you must also let them see you make up. If your children see you arguing, they need to feel secure that you're not going to disappear. 

Make The Most Of The Time That You Get To Spend Together

You do not have to spoil them or buy them inordinate gifts, and you do not have to make a big show of being the parent that splashes the cash. Kids do not care about the material things, they care about spending time with you. So make the most of all the time you get to spend with them. Be involved in their interests and attend their school events. Make sure that you know who their doctor and their dentist and their teacher is. Make sure you know where their classroom is. Make sure you know whether or not they like butter on their sandwiches or whether or not they prefer the crusts to be cut off. These are all important things that you need to know about your children if you want to learn about them as people and not just individuals that you once made and cast aside.

Be Respectful

You do not have to agree with anything that you or your ex have gone through, but this is not about her or him. This is about you and making sure that you are the best father that you can be and that will mean keeping things amicable and respectful. If you act like you hate your ex or you are bad-mouthing them, especially in the presence of your children, your children will take in all of that anger because they are 50% of your ex, so they will think that you don't like them either. It can feel impossible to keep things amicable, but when you're in the presence of the children, keeping yourself neutral and away from arguments is the key to making sure that you can move forward as a group.