Being a good divorced dad means not giving up on your kids
By Jeffery M. Leving
Most divorced fathers want to spend as much time as possible with their children but oftentimes, for a variety of reason, feel they can’t.
Being a “Good Divorced Dad” oftentimes depends on how much time a father is able to commit to their children. It’s one of the topics I address in detail in my new book, which comes out this Spring, “How to be a Good Divorced Dad: Preventing the Divorce Process and Its After effects from Hurting Your Relationship with Your Children.”
Sometimes, the causes that prevent divorced fathers from becoming good dads have to do with the provisions of the divorce agreement, limiting the time they can spend with their children. Other times, the factors involve personal hurt or lack of self-esteem caused by the divorce. You may be a father physically but not in the spirit that allows you to put the strength and time into it that is required.
In many cases, divorced dads accept a restricted role that is often imposed on them by these circumstances.
But you can change that and you can be a great divorced dad who becomes a role model for your children for years to come.
My book walks fathers through the process of identifying the obstacles that prevent divorced fathers from protecting their relationship with their children.
I call them the Seven Deadly Sins of failed divorced fatherhood. They are: the terms of the custody agreement; orders of protection; financial problems; legal trickery; gender bias; guilt; and anger.
In each instance, there is a strategy to improve the amount of time you spend with your children and to improve the quality of that time.
For example, in the case of having to live under the terms of a very restrictive custody agreement, you can become available to your ex-wife to assist her by being there to help with the children. Too often, the personal animosity that results from many divorces prevents this, but your children need you.
You have to watch for opportunities when your ex-spouse will need help with the children and be there to take advantage of the opportunities. And you have to strategically think about how you approach this, not feed into the anger.
You may be hurt about the divorce. Your ex-wife may be a vengeful person. You need to control your own emotions for the benefit of your children. Why allow your former spouse’s anger to impact your relationship with your children?
A good lawyer will also be able to help with the language in your custody agreement to facilitate opportunities to increase contact with your children. They can be built into the agreement.
In each of these challenges you will want to insure that the time spent with your children is quality time. You need to work on that, but there are methods to help you do that. Planning your time with your children will vastly improve the relationship.
Having a competent, experienced attorney at your side will help avoid many of these challenges, such as avoiding an order of protection that is based on false allegations against you. Many father are coerced by guilt and a gender-biased system into believing that they must admit to fault when there is none.
My book has a list of questions divorced dads can answer to help make them stronger and more effective divorced dads. Knowing them. Thinking about them. And answering them will help improve your experience with your children.
The point is don’t give up. Control the process of divorce in order to control your relationship. And make sure your rights are properly represented when you begin the divorce.
(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at www.DadsRights.com.)