Suggestions for Newly Divorced Fathers
TIP 1: DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF
-Reach out to family and friends that will listen to you. Healing begins with being heard. Most of the time, hanging with your friends can really restore your faith in humanity and spending some time with your friends and family could really help you to recover from such shocking experience that divorce is.
When things like this happen, it is best not to isolate yourself simply because isolation leads to overthinking and this leads to depression. Since this is never a good thing for people who recently suffered any kind of trauma, and let us be honest divorces can be traumatic, spending a lot of time in a circle of people whom you can trust can do miracles for your inner self. You need to get back on your feet in order to come out even stronger than before.
That is the only way how you can make sure that you have given your best to recover from what happened. Putting things of the past behind you is never an easy task and that is why it is so exceptionally important that you surround yourself with people who have been with you all your life.
Nothing can bring you back like a warm embrace of your family and friends will make you feel better. You must try. Join a positive support group with other men going through separation or divorce. Check out the local bookstore for helpful readings as well as other people to chat with. Find a mentor who “lives the solution” not “winning the war” – this is NOT a war!
TIP 2: WORK ON YOUR EMOTIONAL DETACHMENT
-Ask one last time about going for marriage counseling, if the answer is no, then:
-Accept that it’s over and begin working on letting it go.
-Keep a journal for writing your feelings: letting out anger, expressing sadness, etc.
-Don’t follow, phone or send flowers – control your rage and jealousy
-Don’t expect your spouse to be a resource or pal; stick to the issue at hand, keep it brief
-Remember the positives and negatives from the relationship for a balanced perspective
TIP 3: GET AND STAY “CHILD-FOCUSED”
That means thinking, “Will this hurt or benefit my child?” before taking any action.
-Do NOT tell the children legal details – “Your mother and I will work it out”
-Do NOT dwell on the legal aspects, they are only a part of the process
-Parental rights also means parental responsibilities
-Your child has the right to love both parents and continue seeing the extended family
-Your #1 obligation is to your child’s emotional well-being and healthy development.
TIP 4: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR ANGER
-Pick your fights carefully – write down your absolutes and what is negotiable
-Learn effective conflict resolution skills – work towards win-win solutions
-Do NOT get into conflicts in front of the children or when they are nearby to hear it
-Be proactive; begin every action with the desired outcome in mind
-Learn effective communication skills; Seek first to understand, then to be understood
-If possible, use a mediator rather than the adversarial family law court system
-Restructure, don’t attack; High-conflict divorce destroys everyone in the family!
TIP 5: IT’S QUALITY TIME THAT COUNTS – NOT QUANTITY
-Children need to spend ‘real’ time with their fathers, not a ‘Disney Dad’
-Stay involved on a daily basis – phone calls, e-mails, tape recordings, mail, projects
-Work on the bond with your child – Your emotional availability is what’s most important
-Each day ask yourself, “What would make my child happy today, and do it!”
-Get to know your child – the more interest we show in them, the higher their self-esteem
TIP 6: DON’T ASSUME YOUR CHILD IS OKAY
Change is even more difficult for children than for adults, and they are going through the same
grief/healing process as you are. Asking them if they are okay is not going to bring you a true and
accurate response. Kids don’t want to upset their parents, especially when they see, hear, and
feel that mom and dad are having a tough time. They will say “OK” or “fine” and be crying
themselves to sleep at night, worrying, or building anger and resentment. Register them in a
preventive program for children of divorce before problems build up to requiring a psychologist.
TIP 7: GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO HEAL
Give yourself at least a year to adjust to your situation. Work on building a positive attitude.
Think back to times of change in the past and recall what helped you adjust then.
If you need help, get it! This is not the time to refuse to ask for directions.
It’s essential that you remain in your child’s life. Men and women divorce – not children!
Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we’d had – Be him!