Dads often bring fun and excitement to life. When we moms are saying, “Stop, you are climbing too high,” the dads are encouraging the kids to climb higher and reach the stars. I have read the accounts of many successful women who stated that their fathers believed in them, and gently pushed them to the lofty heights of achievement.
That said, there are plenty of things single moms wish single dads knew about raising kids after divorce. Here are five common things I’ve found from polling single moms:
1. Nutrition counts! Nutrition is a big area where both parents are not necessarily on the same page. Green Jell-O does not count in the daily nutrition guide as a serving of greens. If discussions with an ex about nutrition lead nowhere, then enlist a third party, such as the child’s doctor, to go over what is best for the child.
2. Routines are important. Dads often do not understand the benefits of sticking to a general routine. Kids are less cranky when they have meals and bedtimes on a similar schedule. It is almost like having jet lag when the bedtimes vary drastically. If only some divorced dads would take this issue more seriously!
3. Keep new loves away from the kids until it is serious. Bringing a parade of lovely ladies around the kids isn’t appropriate. Yes, adults have sexual yearnings, but these do not have to be fulfilled when children are in the next room. Have the wild sex in between visitations, dads. Children find it disconcerting to witness a string of new girlfriends at their father’s house. And, when children become attached to someone in a casual relationship with their dad, it can feel like another loss when that person abruptly departs from their lives.
4. Don’t bad mouth Mom. In my own divorce, my ex and ex mother-in-law repeatedly spoke badly about me to my kids. It did not score any points, and the kids were angry and feeling ill afterwards. Other single moms have echoed this same concern, stating “just have a good time and do not drag the kids into a verbal attack against the absent parent.” Vent these unhappy feelings to another adult and not to the kids.
5. Remember the weather. Kids should wear jackets in colder weather and it is really important to use sunscreen in warm weather to prevent skin cancer.
Children benefit from having both parents in their lives. And whether they express it or not, single moms really appreciate the benefits of the dads’ often easy-going relationships with their youngsters. But for some divorced dads, a few tweaks need to be made for the sake of the children.