Family experts believe that fathers have an essential part in contributing to the happiness and development of their children. This is true even when dad works outside the house and fills traditional father roles, such as being more involved in sports and outdoor activities. Perhaps through skillset or habit, the marriage had clear lines of responsibility that pushed each parent into a role.
It is about to change
Parents who divorce become single parents where the responsibilities outlined in the parenting plan will likely change some of the roles. This can be a good opportunity to reinvent your role as a dad involved in the day-to-day minutia of your children’s lives.
Actions speak louder than words
The needs of each family are different, but here are some steps to take to strengthen the argument for shared custody and a balanced parenting plan:
- Don’t move out: Unless there is a safety issue, it is best to live in the family home until there is an order to vacate the premises. It shows a commitment to the family even if the marriage is over.
- Stay engaged: Continue to do all the usual activities with the kids, perhaps upping the involvement in preparation for the day when they spend time in your home.
- Keep a calendar: Reliability is essential to good parenting, so have all family obligations on the calendar and try to avoid being late. It is especially crucial during divorce negotiations.
- Notify work about the changes: Employers are much more understanding about a father’s parental obligations than in decades past. Nevertheless, let managers and team members know so they don’t question your commitment to the job.
- Know yourself: Do not overpromise your level of commitment and then fall short. A 50-50 split of the time may be fine or necessary if their mother goes back to work, but you may need to use (or increase the use of) after-school programs. You may also need to hire help or use a reliable grandparent so the kids maintain their schedules while under your care.
Keep your eye on the prize
The goal here is to build or maintain a meaningful relationship with your children. Do let arguments with a spouse or stress from an impending divorce get in the way of that. Divorce does not end the parenting partnership, so building or maintaining a working relationship with your ex is also smart. It will keep stress levels down and enable you to better share in the family’s triumphs and setbacks.