It can seem impossible to forgive your ex-wife, but it can be done and it will help you stay connected to your kids. One Play of the Day subscriber writes, “I forgave her, but it took me a whole year and I had to forgive her in small sums over the 12 months. I paid those sums whenever I spoke to her and kept myself from rehashing the past. I paid them whenever I saw her with another man and refused self-pity. I paid them whenever I praised her to others when I really wanted to slice away her reputation. Those were the payments—but she never knew about them. However, I never knew her payments, but I know she made them. I can tell.”
Bitterness always eats its possessor. Resolve to make small payments of mercy. You and your children will be better for it. Though you are no longer married to your ex, you are always your children’s father. Here are 10 ways to stay connected to your kids after divorce.
1. Pursue, pursue, and then pursue some more.
Never stop pursuing your kids, no matter what the obstacle. Maybe they have moved to another state or your ex-wife is sabotaging your efforts to be with them. Do FaceTime, write letters, become a master at diplomacy with their mother, send text and video messages, go to any and all events when you can, and ask them to send you pictures.Never stop pursuing your kids, no matter what the obstacle.
2. Make the most of your time.
In most cases of divorce, the mother has custody of the children. But you can still stay connected to your kids. An agreement is reached about times that they will be with their father. Plan out your time together so these days are special. Do their favorite things. Play with them. However, have enough flexibility to let them choose what they would like to do. Just make sure they have 100 percent of your attention the entire time you get to have them.
3. Make your home their home.
You have moved out and now have a new home. This is going to feel strange to your children. Do everything you can to make them feel welcome and wanted in your new place. Dedicate a bedroom solely for their use. Let them decide how to decorate it. This will be exciting for your children and give them a sense of security when staying with you.
4. Share an interest.
Become a student of their interests and learn how to do what your kids like to do. Maybe your son likes snowboarding. Take it up with him. Your daughter might be an avid reader. Pick a book to read together so you can discuss. Find something and build a positive connection with it.
5. Make a fresh start.
Start a brand new photo album for you and the kids. Always have your phone/camera with you. Take pictures of each weekend and write what you did and where you were. Send the photos to them or post them to social media with their permission.
6. Remember you’re still very important.
You will always be their dad. Nothing on earth can change that fact. Your involvement in their life is critical to their future. Research by the University of Delaware concludes that children with involved fathers tend to have higher self-control and self-esteem. They also have stronger social and coping skills.
7. Be respectful of your ex.
No matter the hurt feelings or circumstances, only speak of your ex-spouse in respectful tones. She is still the mother of your children and they love her. Handle this difficult time with class and dignity. Not doing so is devastating for the mental well-being of your kids.
8. Stay consistent.
Ever since you parted ways, it’s likely you have different ideas from your former wife’s. However, try to forge an agreement on how you each plan to parent your kids. Consistency is key. Your children will become confused if there are two sets of rules in two separate houses.
9. If you can, live close.
Find a place to live that is close to your kids. It will lessen anxiety knowing Dad is “just down the street.” Picking them up from school, for instance, or taking them to the doctor will still be a possibility. Little things mean so much.
10. Be sensitive about introducing them to new people.
Eventually, you will begin to date again. This can be traumatic to your children, especially to daughters. Be sensitive and careful about how and when you introduce someone new. Also, if you have teens, remember they are watching how you handle dating. Behave as you would want them to behave.
Sound off: How else can a single dad stay connected to his kids if his kids don’t live with him full time?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What can we do to feel close even when we can’t be together?”