Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Divorced Dads as Teachers

I am a divorced father who shares all the responsibilities for raising my two daughters with my ex-wife. The relationship between LEW (lovely ex wife) and I is much better now that we are divorced. We could not live together. It is much healthier for both my daughters as well.

-  Sam

mrs K's w. dadWhen I hear a live-away dad talk about building relationships with his ex and his children, I’m always struck by how relevant his words are for me, a man who lived with his children in an “intact” family. Maybe that’s because so many of the issues are the same for both of us. What are the most important things to do for our kids when we don’t live with them anymore?

* Support her close relationship with all of her parents and stepparents.

* Don’t play her off against her mother (or stepparents).

* Communicate with her mother (or stepparents).

* The more you stay involved in child-rearing, the better off every family member is.

* Give her loving support, clear limits and regular routine.

* Remember, girls learn how to relate to men from their fathers. That means you.

I’m not divorced, but all of these concepts are crucial for me, too, as a live-with father.

It may be that live-away dads and stepfathers are our best teachers because these are the men most likely to say something. It’s awfully hard to learn from or listen to dads if no one is speaking. Stepdads and live-away dads are much more likely to talk with one another about their situations. It’s as if we fathers have to go through great crisis and difficulty before we’ll let down our “pride” and unlock our tongue to talk to another dad about being a dad.