3 Co-Parenting Tips for Single Dads

If you’re a recently divorced dad, be prepared to see a side of your kids you’ve never seen before. Kids who have been through a divorce often act in certain ways. As a single dad, you need to know what to watch for and how to respond. Co-parenting with an ex-wife creates several uneasy situations. It can be difficult to know how to handle challenges and maintain peace in the family and consistency for the child.

Ken Parker and Van Jones wrote about it in their book, Every Other Weekend. Here are 3 co-parenting tips for single dads.

1. Consider Conflicting House Rules

Your kids may try to take advantage of two different sets of house rules. “Mom lets me do this at her house!” They may be telling the truth or pulling a scam. The best thing you can do is to help them understand that you will stand behind your rules and the values they represent. Express confidence that they can adjust when they’re staying with you.

2. Expect Broken House Rules

Still, your child may purposefully break your rules. Correct her in love, but also use the opportunity. She could be expressing anger. Or she may be testing your love and limits. In either case, be firm but gentle. Don’t respond in anger, instead, talk with her about the way she’s adjusting, what she’s going through, and how you can help. Just listening may be all she really needs.

Healthy communication will build a trust level that will come in handy when stress and crises come along.

3. Avoid Complaining About the Other Parent

It is typical for a child to complain about someone in the other household, like his mother or stepfather. You need to be very discerning here. On the one hand, you’re probably only hearing one side of the story. You could try calling his mother, not to make accusations but simply to communicate what you’ve heard and gather facts. Often, getting the rest of the story will give you a better appreciation for her point of view, and you’ll be able to back up her actions.

On the other hand, what if your child has a legitimate concern? That phone call to Mom could betray his trust and could get him into trouble at home. These situations illustrate the importance of communicating with your child. Does he need you to look into the situation? Or does he need someone to talk to? For all dads, regular healthy communication will build a trust level that will come in handy when stress and crises come along. For divorced dads, you’ve got to work at it twice as hard in half the time.

Sound off: What has been your biggest co-parenting challenge?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Are there any house rules that you disagree with? Why do you think I have set these particular house rules?”