Ongoing Parenting: Becoming A Great Dad
YOUR NEW LIFE: GOOD AND BAD
After the first few months of the actual separation – after the upheaval when the initial problems (such as where you live and when you get to see the kids) are solved, the life of the average divorced dad falls into a new routine. This new routine is dramatically different from the one that was left behind. For most divorced dads it means:
- becoming the non-resident parent of his children;
- managing on a different budget (most often with less money to spend);
- interacting with his kids on a weekly, rather than daily, basis.
But for all divorced dads there are also many benefits and new opportunities. You may now have a lot more time on your hands to develop a new life. It also means that a lot of the frustrations in your relationship with your ex-partner – (which may have caused you to split up) are no longer present – and some of the stress associated with the old marital life is dissipated.
Many divorced dads achieve a freedom from daily routines that enables them to go on to develop a new life. Of course this new balance also has its drawbacks. For many divorced dads, seeing the children less is a major concern; being less of an influence in their lives than when living at home is a situation which many fathers feel bad about. But over time the emotions associated with this new position calm down, and you can get on with the job of being a dad under the circumstances that you are now in.
Getting on with the ex
There are many factors that determine the success of the your ongoing parenting. Your children’s needs, and your ability to provide for those needs, are of course key elements. But possibly the biggest factor is your relationship with your ex-partner.
To use a football analogy – the defence and the attack need to work together towards the same goal.
What many divorced dads find is that the relationship that they have with their ex-partner changes dramatically over time. During the separation the relationship is at its most strained – even if the break up is a mutual decision. (For some people this unfortunately goes as far as open warfare, with acts of revenge from both parties.)
But generally after the first few months drift into a year or two years, and mum and dad have started to establish new lives for themselves, a relationship of convenience is established between them. The parents develop a level of co-operation which enables them to act as a team. Although they may not be in the premiership, but probably performing somewhere down in the conference, a state evolves that enables both parents to operate. Generally, as time goes by and the kids get older and more able to control their own affairs, the parents find a way of operating around each other.
Coping with a new life
Dealing with the initial separation is only the first hurdle that you have to overcome if you are to become the great dad that you always wanted to be. Some pieces of your new life will make that goal easier to achieve – you establish a new home, and some new hobbies with your children for example. Some barriers, such as your ex’s attitude will be removed – probably slowly.
Situations will arise that put your relationship with your children at risk: changes in your own life such as new relationships, or new jobs, for example, are things which can have a dramatic effect on your current relationship with your children.
You will face an ever-changing environment, and will need to cope with any changes that arise, and strive to continue to make the best of the situation for the benefit of your kids. It will not be an easy ride – and for many divorced dads situations arise that test them to the limit and beyond.