For many divorced fathers in Oklahoma, it can be unbearable to forgive your ex-wife for filing for divorce or taking actions that caused you to decide to file for divorce. However, it can be done and forgiving her is an important to step to improving the health of your relationship with your children as well as your ex-wife. Some fathers need to take small steps on the journey of fully forgiving their ex-wife. It is powerful to the healing process to forgive and we have found from representing hundreds of fathers facing divorce and child custody battles in Oklahoma, it will benefit your children for the rest of their life.
Bitterness and resentment are much heavier burdens on you, than your ex-wife. Although you may no longer be in love with your ex-wife, you can still love the gift she has given you of your children. You will always be the father of her children and that bond may be enough to improve your co-parenting. The following are 7 ways dads can stay connected to your kids after divorce:
1. Respect Your Ex-Wife
You should seek the counsel of a therapist or counselor, if you hold deep seeded pain or anger towards or about your ex-wife. You should not speak to your ex-spouse about those feelings. In the best-case scenario, she will ignore your statements. In other cases, she will use your words against you by telling mutual friends, social media, or even worse; your children. The woman you once married and/or had children with will always be their mother and your children likely love her dearly.
Treating your ex-wife with disrespect will follow you in your relationship with your children for years to come. It will be an issue or pain point that follows your children for years to come, if you allow them to see you disrespect your ex-wife. Again, focus on the feelings of your children and seek professional help, if you are having a difficult time with the emotions of divorce. You are far from alone in struggling with the feelings that go along with divorce.
2. Wait Longer than You Think to Introduce a New Woman
It is highly likely and healthy for you to eventually begin dating again. However, depending upon the emotions of your children, this can be a difficult issue or very traumatic. Research shows that daughters have a more difficult time with fathers beginning to date, than sons. Therefore, be sensitive to your children and be careful about how and with whom you introduce them. We highly recommend not introducing or speaking to your children about new romantic interests, unless it is a very serious relationship.
Keep in mind, your children love you and by extension will tend to care for others in your life. Therefore, if your new romantic relationship ends, it may very well be another form of trauma to your children. Children observe and absorb more than we give them credit. Your children do not only see you, they are learning from you about how to treat women, whether you like the lessons you are teaching or not!
3. Maximize Time with Your Children
In many cases of divorce in Oklahoma, the mother ends up having more overnights, i.e. more time with the children. Whether that is the case or not for you, it is important to find ways to stay connected to your children. During the divorce process you should fight for as much time with your children as you can reasonably care for them, while keeping the children’s best interests at mind. Whether you are the primary custodial parent or not, you should plan your time so that it is enjoyable for your kids.
Take time before your time with your children to plan activities or events that they would enjoy doing. You do not, I repeat, you do not need to shower them with expensive trips and gifts. You do however, need to show interest in them and their interests. The most important thing is to spend your energy on them when you share time together. Your children will know whether you are “present” when you are with them, or your mind is somewhere else. Be intentional, be present, be their dad.
4. Pursue Your Children
Your children know where your heart is in regards to your relationship with them, whether they live down the street or across the country. Never stop pursuing the heart of your children. Technology is a wonderful tool for parents that are separated from their children. Consider building a schedule, including the following: Facetime, e-mail or paper pen pals, text messages, send video messages, and more. Be present as much as you can and when you cannot be there ensuring your children know that your heart is with them and ask for photos!
5. Make your home their home
You may have moved out of the marital home and into a new space; however, that does not mean your children cannot have a home with you as well. It will feel strange to you and your children for a period of time. However, kids are highly adaptable and will react to your comfort level in creating a new home for them.
- Take the time and the following steps to ensure your children feel welcome in your new home: make a space that is just theirs, whether it is a bedroom, playroom, or corner of the living room. The amount of space matters far less than your efforts to make a place for them.
- Make a bedroom for each of your children or a shared sleeping space, if you do not have enough space. Allow each child to take a part in decorating their space, within reason. You can take them to the furniture store, online or in store, and find furniture and decorations that they like. It will be an exciting experience for both of you and eventually your children will feel like the new space is an old space and they will feel at home.
- Identify an interest or interests of your children and make it available in your new home. Get an indoor basketball goal (some options are only $150), if your children are into basketball. Have a special space for video games, if that is their interest and get a few games they like that you can play together. Make a dress-up space and a starter set for your little princess or knight, if that is your child’s interest.
This list could go one for pages of ways to build a special space for your children and their interest; however, the key is to be intentional and make it about them! We’d be glad to give you examples of ways former clients have created this space for their children; whatever your child’s interest.
6. Own Your Role as Father
You and only you decide, if you will or will not be your children’s father. The relationship of father and child is all about the relationship, meaning how you interact with your children play a major role in how they see you and how much they want to see you. When you as a father remain interested and engaged with your children, it will have lifelong positive impact on you and your kids.
Many studies, including a research project by the University of Delaware indicates children with involved fathers have higher self-worth, higher self-esteem, stronger social skills, and better control of their emotions. You are not only their father, you are a key role in the entire life of your children and their success, don’t take the role lightly.
7. Solid as the Rock
You do not need to die on every hill when it comes to issues of raising your children with your ex-wife. However, you should stand-up what you believe matters in the life and rearing of your children. In other articles we discuss Decision Making Authority or legal custody in Oklahoma; however, for the time being keep in mind that you will have differences of opinion from your ex-wife about some or many issues pertaining to your children.
It is in your children’s best interest that you communicate with your ex-wife and reach an agreement that you both accept for how decisions will be made and who will make those decisions for your children. Consistency and communication are your friends when it comes to important issues relating to your children. It is in the best interest of your children if you and your ex-wife develop one set of rules for both houses. Children can be conniving and it will be much easier to catch, if you and your ex-wife are solid on the rules you will enforce.
Your Next Steps
As a father, your actions speak much louder than words to your children. When you are fighting for your continued relationship with your children, you need a Fierce Advocates™ on your side. Cannon & Associates cares deeply about Father’s Rights in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for answers to your questions about Father’s Rights in Oklahoma and a free strategy session. We look forward to being Your Fierce Advocates™.