Co-parenting advice for dads
Adjusting to parenting as one half of a separated couple is a massive change. And if you didn't provide most of your child's day-to-day care pre-divorce, it can be pretty daunting. But making co-parenting work is incredibly important, so here are five vital things to consider.
1. Get involved
If your parenting efforts up to now have mainly revolved around providing regular income, then your child's day-to-day needs will have been met by their mum, a relative or a childminder. The separation will mean this could alter in future.
Research shows that it's children who have positive contact with both parents after separation who adjust best to their new situation and reach their full potential. So get more involved in your child's life and stay involved.
2. Be realistic
It's important that you're realistic about the amount and type of care you can provide - it may well not be half. But given that, it's important to avoid battles about care and contact if at all possible. And never to have those battles in front of your kids.
The important thing from your child's point of view is not how often they see you, but that they know they will see you and get your full attention. Quality and regularity, not quantity, is what reassures children, especially younger ones.
• 10 ways to protect your child from the effects of separation
• Child contact FAQs
• Fathers' parental responsibility
• Reaching agreement with your child's mother
• Reaching agreement without the courts
3. Think about your child's needs
So we're talking reassuring routines, such as pick-up times, meal times and bed times, and home comforts, obvious stuff like having enough food in, making sure they have clothes, toothbrushes, shampoo etc, somewhere suitable to sleep and ensuring favourite toys don't get left behind during handovers.
4. Think about how you'll keep your child occupied
Dad equals source of entertainment for lots of children, so your new co-parenting arrangements mean you'll have to give this some thought and potentially try new activities, eg swimming, bowling, cinema, cooking, gardening, walks, painting, model making, visiting the library, ice skating...
5. Get help and advice
There are loads of books and websites to help dads in your situation. Dad.info has lots of resources to help you be the best dad you can be. You'll never do a more important job, so do your homework (once you've finished checking that your child has done theirs).
- Chat to other fathers about making co-parenting arrangements work
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