Well, it looks like you’re getting divorced. Or you’ve decided to trial a separation with your partner. There are countless things to consider when dealing with divorce, but it’s imperative you make time to talk to your kids. And plan where to go with your relationships with them.
Dealing with divorce is bloody hard. You have to keep working while suffering through pain and loss. You feel like crap. It’s hard to relax, and hard to sleep. And people ask annoying questions while you bark and yell at them to mind their own business. You may think you’re alone, but there are lots of these dads around.
All of them have to work hard at being a dad who’s present in their kids’ lives.
Some ways I suggest dealing with divorce would be:
Take a moment to sketch your life on a page. Yep, your work; sure, your relationship; maybe your favourite sport; and some time with the boys. Where did you put your kids? Are they tucked away in a corner? And you want to be a part of their lives? Not happening pal.
Maybe you’re not around your kids as much as you like. That’s ok – pick up the phone and speak to them. Don’t you have time? Be careful before you say that. Check out the song “Cat’s in the Cradle”. The guy says “Well Dad wasn’t there for me when I needed him – why should I bother with him now, the cranky old bugger!”. It should make you think hard about yourself, and your priorities.
Emails are OK, and there are tons of ways you can write a quick note these days via any number of messaging services, but put a few words on a card or letter. They have so much more meaning. Just write your own words – that’s what your kids want.
Have you ever had a birthday everyone forgot about? Even as an adult, it’s not a nice feeling. It is imperative that you remember your kids’ birthdays. Use anything that helps – a calendar on the fridge, a reminder on your phone and don’t resort to your mother.
Work out some activities you can do with your kids, be it cooking, camping or sports – I enjoyed Canoeing with mine. It’s essential that you’re a continuing part of their lives. Hang in there. Believe me, it gets better.
You get close to kids and bond as they grow. And you have to do it in the good times and the bad. Keep listening to your kids and understand that they want your love. There’s a lifetime of love and cuddles to look forward to.
Dr Peter West is a casual lecturer, Australian Catholic University, Sydney. His website is boyseducation.com.au