I know that the subject of children in divorced homes has been thrashed to death, but it’s such an important and provocative subject.
I am the father of an only daughter, 13 years old (ouch!), who just happens to be the most rocking child on the planet. She is balanced, and loves spending time with her mother, AND with me. I should mention that we are divorced. This has been achieved by putting a few principles in place.
(1) It’s ALWAYS about your child – always – I know this is easier said than done, and in the beginning, it is SO difficult not to use your child as a negotiating tool with your newly “exed”. It’s tough not to feel like you are being used. You are the adult – act like it!
(2) Never bad-mouth the other parent in front of your child. Do that when your child is not with you, with the greatest pleasure, but never when your baby is with you. Apart from the obvious, all it does is weaken your childs comfort base. They don’t know whether to show solidarity with you, their beloved Dad (or Mom) or to protect the other parent, or to withdraw.
(3) Parents – keep reminding yourselves, and your exes that personal feelings towards each other mean nothing. If nothing else, you have a moral responsibility to focus on your child and to give them the best that you can.
(4) Don’t feel guilty about the split home. We have used this to our advantage. So, when Josie(the rocking daughter) is with her Mom, then she does girly stuff – they shop, constantly. They talk, all the time, they do crafty (as in arts and crafts) things. They are girls. But, when Josie comes to me, we ride motor bikes, go water skiing, watch tv, love rugby, go camping. Which does Josie prefer? Neither – she LOVES both worlds.
Finally, encourage your child to express when they miss the other parent – its not because she / he doesn’t want to be with you, it’s because she misses her parent – don’t take stuff personally – this way, she will be more comfortable, you will be her confidant. Just like her other parent is. It’s NOT a competition.
If you do nothing else, constantly add value in your childs life – this creates bonds.
Hopefully, if you can get all of this right, you will have a child, that on seeing you, throws herself into your arms and loves you unconditionally.
Have fun – your kids rock – BIG time!