Father’s Day is coming up in September and for many fathers who are separated or divorced, the thought of having to negotiate with their ex to see their children or spend time with them can be frustrating, upsetting and fraught with difficult conversations.
Whether you are freshly separated or it’s been some time since your relationship has ended – navigating parenting arrangements and especially on significant day’s such as Father’s Day is not easy.
So, what can you do to stay connected with your children on Father’s Day or any other day.
1. Communicate with your former partner respectfully and in a businesslike manner.
You are no longer together – but you will still need to decide and make plans for your children. One of the hardest things for many separated dads is re-defining their relationship with their ex, so that it is no longer about “us” but the about the children.
A great way to keep your communication in check, is to remind yourself or have in the back of your mind, that one day, your children may get the chance to read the emails, letter or texts you have sent to their mother. The question is – what impression do you want to leave your children about you – another way of saying this is “how do you want your children to know you”. There really is nothing worse than your children reading correspondence to their mother that is littered with criticism, obscenities or just unkindness.
2. Spend quality time with your children.
I’ve seen father’s spending years fighting with their ex, wanting more time with their children, only to discover that more time does not mean better or meaningful relationships. In fact, more time, when you’re juggling long work hours, new partners, unsettled or unhappy children is challenging to say the least.
The aim of course is that no matter whether you are seeing your children every second day or one night a week – that you make it healthy, harmonious and an opportunity to re-engage, bond and have fun with your children.
3. You be the Dad.
Sometimes we find ourselves stunned as to how grown men, (and women) who are parents behave like 5-year-old children. They say inappropriate things, ask kids to make big decisions about their living arrangements or simply make their kid’s experience unpleasant.
If you want to connect with your children, it’s simple – listen and get to know your child. You will be warmly surprised as to how much they want to connect with you too. It is natural for children to love their parents, just go with that – don’t make things more complicated or harder for yourself.
4. Be emotionally attuned.
Unfairly, men have gotten a bad reputation about being emotionally unavailable or emotionally stunted.
Our experience is that that when people (men or women) have experienced trauma or grief or emotional pain, they shut down, they withdraw, go silent or turn to other ways, not always healthy of dealing with their pain.
If you can relate, then you need to shed light on what is going on for you – being emotionally responsible, will lead you to emotional attunement, not only for yourself but your children. There really is no greater gift that you can give your kids but the experience of being heard and having their views, feelings and emotions validated.
When we are emotionally attuned to our children, our children feel safe, protected and build the emotional resilience to create lives that are healthy and functional.
5. No guilt trips please.
We see time and time again children being tangled in their parent’s guilt trips and being made wrong for wanting to see the other parent.
Let’s never forget that children are innocent bystanders in your divorce – they did not cause the divorce, they did not want the divorce and they sure as hell don’t want you to put them through guilt trips about what you may perceive to be their “bias” or “taking sides”.
The surest way to damage your relationship with your child is to make them wrong or “guilty” for loving or wanting to spend time with the other parent.
Seriously, it’s time to stop and find other ways of dealing with your frustration or disappointment or grief. If you genuinely want good for them and you want them to thrive, no guilt trips please.
The information provided here is intended for general information purposes and is not legal advice.
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