In part one of the divorced dad series, we start to look at what has actually changed from your fatherly position in the family, actually nothing. In this article, we will touch on the greatest responsibility of being a divorced dad.
A Divorced Dad’s Greatest Responsibility
A feeling of alienation is common during and after the divorce. It is important that as the father, we try to prevent alienation from happening. This can be a challenge with the pressure of divorce and the major life change for everyone. There are some signs that when you are conscious of them can help you recognize and help cure the problem when it’s already rooted.
Recognize the Signs of Alienation
As a divorced dad, it is your right and responsibility to safeguard your relationship with your children. Spot the symptoms of alienation. Here are a few: A possible adoption or change of name, special signs and secret signals, kids anger towards demeaned parent for no apparent reason, interrupted visitation rights, making unreasonable demands, overprotective ex for no apparent reason. And while these are some of the signs ask yourself how you might also be causing the gap, at no time should you make promises you cannot keep.
Accountability And Choice
How often do we hear kids tell their parents that they were never asked or that they were never given a choice? Alienation begins when parents exclude kids because they think their children won’t understand. It is true however that some things are better kept between yourselves as a couple or ex-couple, but you have to learn to segregate. Identify which ones should be out in the open, remembering to always keep intimate details between your self and your ex.
Giving your kids the opportunity to decide the visitation schedule lends them a sense of empowerment. They feel needed. It is quite unfortunate that the parent who does not have primary custody gets bad press, especially with the kids. When the kids call the shots, they feel like they still have value in your life.
Acknowledge that your children may not be as immature as you think. Despite being kids they have a sense of ownership. Let them decide about anything regarding their belongings.
Mom VS. Dad
Alienation commonly arises when both the exe’s blame each and the other for everything that goes wrong with their lives. From financial stressors to petty arguments, to handling the death of a pet. During divorce theirs a plethora of things that can cause alienation.
When this happens, children can become a tool for each parent to use and hurt each other. As the father, you have to spot this sign and modify yourself immediately. Always be level headed and reasonable. If your ex does not want to be flexible or finds an excuse to keep your kid(s) away from you then try and talk things calmly with your ex-wife. Look for some common ground that supports her and your needs.
Thinking about asking your kids to choose between the two of you? I recommend not taking this step. Doing so causes an insurmountable amount of distress on the child’s part. This kind of trauma will be brought up until the end of her or his lifetime.
Children are also very wise. They could use divorce as an opportunity to get what they want. Don’t fall into this kind of trap. Do not try to and buy their love and loyalty with goodies, gifts and permission to do things. Instead, earn their respect by instilling proper disciplinary methods.
Your way of setting things straight may be used against you, so mindful of this. If your kids calmly tell you that they don’t really remember one time when you were there as a father, and you suspect that things have been said against you. Don’t point the finger at your ex. Instead, remind them of something that happened during that time. Keeping a level head and not getting into the mud of divorce is your best bet in earning the trust of your children. They will recognize the strength even at a young age and will one day thank you for that.
The Conscious Dad
Divorce is one of the hardest things we will ever deal within our lives. To successfully navigate these waters requires discipline to do the inner work on yourself as a man. What qualities do you want to teach your children? It’s easy to get into the mud and grind it out with the ex and maybe once in a while that will happen. It just can’t happen in front of the kids. Focus on qualities you want your children to learn. Qualities of courage, compassion, honour, strength and love are the keys to growing into a man that your children will continue to admire.
In our next article in this series, we look at how to be happy as a divorced dad.
Go in peace, my brother!
Founder, The Awakened Man