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Divorcing and divorced dads succeed when they put the interests of the children first

Divorces are heart-wrenching for all families, particularly when children are involved.Though courts have traditionally favored mothers in divorce proceedings, more and more people are finally understanding that dads matter just as much as moms. Children need strong role-models in their lives, which includes both parents. Divorce is undoubtedly difficult, but this expert advice for dads going through the process - or recently divorced - will help make it easier for everybody.


Do ask your children to help you choose your new home and/or encourage them to help their mothers do the same

Dads should make it a point to ensure that the kids know that wherever he is, is home, and wherever mom is, is also home. By including them in the process of selecting your new place, and letting them choose their bedroom (just not the master!), you are conveying to them that their opinion is important to you and that they are.

Do remember your child is the priority

During the divorce process, you need to remember that the divorce is secondary! Many parents get caught up with the divorce rather than child care, which is incredibly harmful to your children. You need to be there. Demonstrate that you want as much time as you can possibly have with your children. Some states mandate this, and some don’t, but it is ultimately your responsibility to seek out time with your children.

Do be a strong role model for your children

Most divorcing couples are completely clueless that their children, even the very young ones, are picking up on their vibrations. Be aware of what you say in front of your children during this time. But most importantly, be hands on! Diapers need changing, baseball games need fans, tea parties need another participant. Show them that you are first and foremost their dad.

Do be respectful of your child’s mother

As difficult as it may sometimes be, you need to be respectful of your children’s mother. Keep in mind that the relationship you have with your soon-to-be ex will determine how adversarial your divorce proceeding becomes. And it’s important to remember, you are the one that chose their mother.


Do not send your child as the messenger

Fathers have the habit of saying “Tell your mother to...” It is important to remember that your children are not your messengers. This makes them feel caught in the middle when they expect that their parents should know how to talk to each other - they used to, didn’t they? Also, do not put messages, documents, etc in your child’s bookbag expecting mom to find it. This is a surefire way to make sure your message never gets delivered. If you have something to say, pick up the phone and call her.

Do not send your children back to their mother dirty and hungry

This gives mom reason to question your parenting ability. Mom gets furious, which means that you and mom will end up arguing over non issues.

Do not discuss child support with your children

Phrases like “That’s why I pay your mother child support” or “I don’t have any money, your mother took it all” are damaging to your children because it terrifies them.They will think: “If mommy doesn’t have any money, and if daddy doesn’t have any money, what am I going to eat? What am I going to wear?” Money is a very scary topic for a child because it’s not something they can control. Keep adult conversations between adults.

Do not buy gifts or toys when it’s not a birthday or gift-giving holiday

When you were in an intact marriage, its unlikely you brought your kids home gifts for no reason. This shouldn’t change because of a divorce, but it is very common for dads to solve every problem at Toys ‘R’ Us. Doing this makes kids feel entitled, and worse, it makes them manipulative.

Do not miss games, recitals, school plays, or doctor’s appointments

The most important thing a dad can do for his kids is to be present for them; nothing can replace this. Dads tend to leave recitals, doctor’s appointments, and games (unless it’s a sport they like) to moms. Being there for these moments will leave a lasting impact on your children.

Jumping cartoon

Most men and women do not realize that they put their children in the middle of their disputes. It’s not something done intentionally, but you need to remember that your anger is not your child’s anger. Love and support are different and it is your job as a parent to make sure your children have both, especially all of those divorced fathers out there.

More expert advice about Divorce and Separation Law

Photo Credits: Father/Son A and B by Flickr: heymarchetti; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Brenda B. ShapiroManaging Partner

Brenda B. Shapiro is a Family Law attorney and litigator. She provides legal counsel to clients on family law matters, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, divorce, child custody, access and time sharing, post-dissolution, domestic v...

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