When getting a divorce, fathers often worry that they will be passed over for custody.
Mothers have often received the majority of support and recognition, and (at least in recent history) have often been awarded primary custody of children. While the law prohibits the court from awarding custody based on gender, traditional labor roles have often made mother’s responsible for doing the bulk of the primary care-taking of shared children. However, the times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan said, and more and more, men are becoming the frequent caretakers and are awarded custody. Single dads have become a more vocal regarding this issue. The following are the biggest tips from men pioneering the single dad’s movement.
1. Remember who you divorced – you divorced your wife – not your children. Single dads encourage similarly- situated men to use the divorce as an opportunity to reconnect with their children. With more one-on-one time, dads should focus on spending quality time with their children when they have custody. However ugly the divorce was, do not allow that to affect the relationship you have with your kids. Be there for every birthday, holiday, school play, and period of possession you have. This could be a huge opportunity to be the focused dad that perhaps you were not even while married.
2. With that being said – don’t be a Disneyland dad. Just because you may only get part-time visits, it does not mean you have to shell out money and create epic adventures for your kids every time they visit you. They are just as happy to be with you as you are to be with them. And remember – they aren’t just visiting you. These kids have two homes now. Two sets of rules. Be the best dad you can, but do not feel as though each moment with them has to be a carefree vacation. You must still raise your children to be responsible, humble human beings.
3. Be flexible. This includes both with your work, your children, and your employer. Be understanding when your children’s mother (or other partner) has something come up and will be late or unable to drop off the kids. Offer to assist them when possible. Also, take the initiative with your employer to create a flexible work schedule. Ask to come in to work earlier so that you can leave earlier to pick up your kids from school, or create a system where you can work from home a few times a month. Tell them you are a single parent and want to do the best job possible, while still supporting your kids. Some companies are surprisingly supportive for parents who are forthright about their needs.
4. Get support. Ask for help. Become friendly with other parents in the neighborhood and develop a schedule of playdates or sleepovers so you can have some time for yourself. Join community support groups to find resources – financial and emotional – to help raise your child. Invest in after-school care, including churches, other family members, and parents. Being a single parent is hard – do not be afraid to ask for help. Remember the saying, “It takes a village.” There is no shame in asking for support.
5. Never speak negatively about the other parent. This one could be the hardest tip to follow. If you want your children to grow up respecting their mother (or other parent), you must lead by example. As they get older, this will make it easier for the two of you to show a united front. This will allow them to have respectful and healthy relationships with their future partners as well.
Single fathers are crucial in creating a generation of respectful and decent children. Fathers are hugely influential, and they must embrace the opportunity that being a single father creates. By asking for help, respecting the other parent, being flexible and maximizing time spent with their children, single fathers can ensure the next generation is responsible, safe, and happy.
Contact a Fresno and San Diego Divorce Lawyer
If you are thinking about getting a divorce and are worried about what that means for your relationship with your children, contact Fresno and San Diego divorce attorney Rebecca Medina. She will fight for your right to have a strong relationship with your children and guide you through what can be a difficult and traumatic experience.