Dr. Stein's Psychology Blog
My thoughts on mental health counseling, therapy, neuropsychology, collaborative divorce and more.
Raising children post-divorce can be extra challenging for any parent, sometimes especially men. After divorce, many men tend to spend less time with the children. This distance sometimes can leave the father feeling isolated and disengaged from his kids. A decrease in positive parenting time can also lead to feelings of sadness and depression in a father.
Not only does divorce impact the couple, but also when a child witnesses negative interactions between two people he/she loves, then that can have a detrimental on a child’s emotional, social, educational, and physical health. In the counseling and coaching work that I do with divorcing and divorced fathers, I recommend the following strategies to help father’s stay connected with their children and avoid unintended emotional stress placed on children:
1) Minimize the amount you share regarding finances: Let your children remain children. Resist sharing the financial burdens you may face. Exposing children to financial stress increases their anxiety and misplaces guilt and blame.
2) Be the Good Cop and the Bad Cop: Kids actually respond well to boundaries that parents create. Showing that you have limits regarding what is acceptable shows them that you care about them. Don’t make your ex-wife be the only disciplinarian. Choose to join in the big battles like the importance of making healthy choices, taking academics seriously, and being a good citizen. But, consider leaving your kids some breathing room for screen time, late nights, and junk food.
3) Believe in your Children: Let them know that they can achieve anything they put their mind to and that they have 100% of your support.
4) Stay in Touch: Always be accessible to your children by phone or text outside of your assigned visitation hours. They need to know you are available 24/7/365 in order to be secure and attached.
5) Be positive about your ex-spouse: If you don’t have anything nice to say about your ex, don’t say it to your children. Fifty percent of your child is made up with your former partner’s DNA. Every time you insult your spouse in front of your child, you are attacking your children’s character as well.
It’s not unusual to need some extra, unbiased support during a stressful time like divorce. Feel free to call my Red Bank office for a free, 15 minute consultation at 732-747-8818 to see if I can be of further assistance during this transitional time.
I'm a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist with a private practice in Red Bank, NJ.