Fathers Day is just as important after a divorce

Fathers Day is coming up this weekend. It is a holiday for children to show their dads how much they are appreciated. It is also a time for men to remember what an important role than can and do play in the lives of their children.

If you are a devoted dad, make sure to give yourself some credit this year along with the kudos you receive from anyone else. For millions of men who are now trying to raise children, knowing how to be a good dad can be difficult because their own fathers were not around much when they were kids. The good news is that even if you and your children’s mother are going through a divorce, there are ways to make the most of whatever time you get to spend with your kids.

After divorce, you may end up with full custody, a small amount of parenting time or something in between. Obviously, maximizing time with your children is the preferred outcome. But no matter how much or how little time you have with your kids, your parenting strategy should be about quality rather than quantity.

Whether your kids are toddlers or teenagers, there’s no good substitute for giving them your time and attention. This often means participating in activities with them that they enjoy. When toddlers are down on the floor playing with toys or blocks, you can be right there with them. When they get older, you can also show that you are willing to play with them, even if “play” looks different as they age.

If your parenting time is limited, it may be hard for your kids to discuss more serious topics with you right away. But in the course of doing fun activities together, these more serious discussions may suddenly become comfortable. A game of catch or going for a walk can make it easier for your kids to open up because they are reassured that you are listening and invested in what they have to say.

Divorce often means that neither parent gets to spend as much time with their kids as they want to. For dads, the custody schedule can be especially frustrating and limited. But this weekend, please take a moment to be proud of how hard you work to be there for your kids, even when you are limited by factors beyond your control.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Yes, You Can Be a Good Dad (Even if You Didn’t Have One),” Marie Hartwell-Walker, June 9, 2014

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