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Divorced dads with kids (1 Viewer)

bro1ncos

IBL Representative
So, I am soon to be divorced dad with 2 teenage kids. I recently moved out and don't see them on a day to day basis (hardest part of the divorce, without question). 

How do you regularly communicate with your kids? My 13 yr old will return texts but my 16 yr old doesn't regularly respond due to her busy schedule. I believe I have solid relationships with both kids, but already miss the aspect of being able to talk with them each night before bed. 

 

ChiefD

Footballguy
I was a teenaged kid with divorced parents, and I can tell you 100% to always take the high road in regards to discussions about your ex-wife.

Still call them every night if you want, if only to leave a voicemail that says "good night."

Go to everything of theirs that you can. Be active. Continue to be a role model.

My dad did NONE of these things. Believe me - I remember and it haunts me to this day as a 49 year old father of three.

 
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Worm

slimy ninja
It's hard. I try to balance between talking to them and letting them know I'm thinking about them and letting them have time with their mom.

When they are with you put your phone away and give them all your attention. Go to their events. Support them however you can emotionally. Sometimes they will just be doing their own thing, and that's ok. Sometimes they will just want to talk to mom about certain things. That's ok. If you are loving on them and doing what you can to be there, they will know. It will never be a perfectly optimal situation, but that's ok too. They will thrive with support from you both.

 

AAABatteries

Footballguy
Agree with Chief - me and my sister were 8 and 12 when my parents split up and my Dad wasn’t involved in our lives much at all.  He wasn’t a bad guy - I just didn’t see him or talk to him much.  This was well before the days of cellphones so you can at least call/text them and I would make sure and do that.  

 

pats3in4

Footballguy
I have 50% custody so I see my kids as often as their mom does.  I also attend all of their extracurricular events.  I text with them as well when they are at their mom's (and mom calls/texts when they're with me). I have great talks with them and they are very open with me.  Sure, the teenager can act distant at times, but they know that you just being there at the ready is a huge comfort. 

 

Captain Cranks

Footballguy
I have 50% custody so I see my kids as often as their mom does.  I also attend all of their extracurricular events.  I text with them as well when they are at their mom's (and mom calls/texts when they're with me). I have great talks with them and they are very open with me.  Sure, the teenager can act distant at times, but they know that you just being there at the ready is a huge comfort. 
This is me although mine is only 11.  We play guitar together most days he's here and I make sure I'm at his cub scout and basketball activities even when they're not on my days.  

OP, why did you move out?  Are you unable to get at least partial custody?  

 

bro1ncos

IBL Representative
OP, why did you move out?  Are you unable to get at least partial custody?  
I am sure I could get partial custody, but unfortunately I can't afford a 3 bedroom place. Part of the divorce is giving the ex an under water mortgage and letting the kids stay in the only home they have known. 

 

flranger

Footballguy
  • Don't introduce them to new women for a long time
  • When you have them, focus on them only
  • Don't talk poorly about their mother
  • Agree with attend everything you can and put your phone down even when they don't
  • Your soon to be ex is inevitably going to pull some crazy ####, try to always be the bigger person
  • Keep your social media game like you are running for president trying to be the #1 draft pick, no controversies
  • Know their teachers names
  • Ride the poon tidal wave that's rolling in only when they aren't with you
 
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-fish-

Footballguy
I have a 14 year old daughter and I've had 50/50 custody with her mom since she was 3.  Talk to her almost every day, even if briefly.   With teens, finding common ground can be tough.  Mine's really into music, so we share a lot of music back and forth and see a lot of live bands.   She also plays volleyball, so I offer to practice with her if she's just sitting around.  

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
snapchat is probably a good idea.

i would also say just keep reaching out even if you get nothing back.  it is still important that they know you care.

 

JuniorGong

Footballguy
My kids don’t have cell phones yet but whether I’m still with my wife or divorced I can guarantee one thing. If either of them don’t respond to texts I send for a phone I’m paying for then they can kiss that phone goodbye.

 

pats3in4

Footballguy
I am sure I could get partial custody, but unfortunately I can't afford a 3 bedroom place. Part of the divorce is giving the ex an under water mortgage and letting the kids stay in the only home they have known. 
Have you discussed this with your lawyer?  Be sure you understand custody law where you are.  Where I'm at, this situation would have given my ex a ton of power and control over the kids.  My nightmare scenario was her deciding she wanted to move far away with the kids and having the power where a judge would let her.

 

TLEF316

Footballguy
If you dont already, learn to cook.

My parents officially split up when I was like 13. My younger brothers were around 9 and 4.

20+ years later, my dad still loves to do it and we've always credited it as a big part of why we were able to remain so close as a family. When my parents broke up, he always just said he didn't want to be the divorced dad that just stopped and picked up McDonald's every time it was his turn to feed us. So every Tuesday (my mom would provide dinner one of his weekday visit nights) and every other Sunday, my dad would  make us a legit meal.  (Friday was usually pizza night and Saturday we usually had activities and stuff going on) Nothing crazy,  but real food and he developed a handful of pretty damn good dishes that we still make to this day.  (eventually putting them all together with other family recipes into a personalized cookbook that he gave us for Christmas a few years back)

Might seem like a silly thing,  but I think it made a big difference. He and I still get together on most Wednesdays to have a home cooked dinner and watch Survivor.

 

jtp1982

Footballguy
I’m divorced, have four kids.  Didn’t plan it this way but I’m pretty freaking decent at it by now.

First off, you need to have an an honest conversation with yourself about what kind of relationship with your kids you want and are willing to make happen.  If you want to figure that out as you go while kind of feeling reluctant and guilty about it occasionally, that’s a choice some people make (women too).  Is what it is.

If you want to be a central, pivotal part of their lives it’s going to involve a lot of time spent with them as those opportunities arise.  The phone is not gonna be a major part of it, face to face stuff.

 Start with reframing “I don’t see them on a day to day basis.” What matters is when DO you see them?  Identify those days/times and make them REGULAR, PREDICATABLE, kids like routine because it allows them to process #### and know what’s coming.

Especially if you guys just split up recently make sure you are always there there at those times when you get to see your kids.  Activity wise if it’s weird and all else fails spend money with them at first, go out to eat, laser tag, whatever works in the early days.

Once you’re a predicatable, regular presence independent of their Mother volunteer to do stuff their Mother doesn’t want to do with them.  Not to edge her out, not even a goal, but to further develop your own identity and relationship with them apart from her.  

For me it’s field trips and school activities.  If they ask me ahead of time I go.

Whatever happens just be there when you’re supposed to be there, don’t ever let them see you quit, especially when they’re being a pain.  Show them they are not the ones you left by your words and most importantly, by your actions.

Edit: Rereading your post the regular communication thing is an irreducible suck factor at some level.  I have one preteen, awesome kid.  But ya they aren’t gonna always want to talk to you when you don’t have them.  Just like we didn’t always want to talk to our parents at that age.

 
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Captain Cranks

Footballguy
If you dont already, learn to cook.

My parents officially split up when I was like 13. My younger brothers were around 9 and 4.

20+ years later, my dad still loves to do it and we've always credited it as a big part of why we were able to remain so close as a family. When my parents broke up, he always just said he didn't want to be the divorced dad that just stopped and picked up McDonald's every time it was his turn to feed us. So every Tuesday (my mom would provide dinner one of his weekday visit nights) and every other Sunday, my dad would  make us a legit meal.  (Friday was usually pizza night and Saturday we usually had activities and stuff going on) Nothing crazy,  but real food and he developed a handful of pretty damn good dishes that we still make to this day.  (eventually putting them all together with other family recipes into a personalized cookbook that he gave us for Christmas a few years back)

Might seem like a silly thing,  but I think it made a big difference. He and I still get together on most Wednesdays to have a home cooked dinner and watch Survivor.
This made me tear up.  

 
bro1ncos said:
I am sure I could get partial custody, but unfortunately I can't afford a 3 bedroom place. Part of the divorce is giving the ex an under water mortgage and letting the kids stay in the only home they have known. 
Can you afford a two bedroom?  It's OK for them not to have their own rooms, it's more important that they have their dad.  They may complain about it even, but kids complain about doing a lot of stuff that is good for them, and it will be good for you as well.

 

Angry Beavers

Footballguy
I have a 17 year old and have been divorced from his mom since he was 2. When kids get older they start to have their own lives. I go to every event of his ( unless I am traveling for work, etc) and although he is probably at his mom's a little more than my house ( she is closer to school and he has a car and pretty much gets to says where he is going) we are extremely close. If I send a text and don't hear back right away, I don't take it personally. He has his own life too.  Great advice about taking the high road, cooking real meals ( teenage boys, particularly active ones, they eat... constantly) and just being there and engaged. Time I have with him is time for him, not doing yard work or making other plans. I have plenty of time he is off doing his own thing or at his moms that I can get done what I need to. Inevitably your ex will pull some crazy stuff and being level headed and calm will get you a lot farther in the long run. 

 

Deepster

Footballguy
Lots of good stuff here.  I've been divorced 10+ years and my daughter is now 14, I'd echo:

  • Learning to cook.  When we spend time together, she always has a certain recipe or two that she's begging for once I pick her up. 
  • Snapchat or social media.  I don't comment on her posts, but will like certain ones and she notices.  And Snapchat is the new text/email/phone call.  That's how she communicates 95% of the time.  And it's fun to be out somewhere, see something cool and share a few seconds of your day here or there with them.
  • Mom is likely going to be crazy and irrational at times, especially when you eventually get another partner.  If so, talk like you're on the witness stand.  Just the facts.  Answer the question you've been asked and nothing more.  No emotional escalation.  And sometimes, you just sit there and let her rant.  The storm will pass.
 

Grey Pilgrim

Lurker Extraordinare
I have a 10yo daughter.  Her mother and I divorced right before she turned 5.

I'd echo pretty much everything said above.  I know being divorced is tough and you fret over what the divorce is doing/has done to your kid.  To be 100% honest though, I LOVE me and my kid's relationship now and I honestly don't think we'd have the same relationship had her mother and I not divorced.

I only have mine every other weekend and every Wednesday.  So when she's with me... it's all about daddy/daughter time.  So we hang out, talk, watch movies/videos and basically are each other's best friend.  If her mother and I were still married, I wouldn't be able to devote that time to forming that 1 on 1 relationship.  It's drawn us a lot closer over the years to the point now that when she's with me, we're pretty much attached at the hip.

I would also stress to keep your kid separate from your dating life.  Completely separate.  I've been divorced for five years and have dated numerous wimmens in that time but my daughter has only met TWO of my GF's.  One I dated for about two years and the other is my fiancé at current.  In my mind, if I wouldn't introduce them to my mom, then they'd certainly not get anywhere near my daughter.

Also, like another poster mentioned, keep your social media footprint tight.  You're a role model, especially if you have a daughter.  No pics of you boozing it up with the bikini-clad chicks at the bar.  No mud-slinging at ex-GF's.  No reality TV crap.  You shut that ##### down and let it be known it's not tolerated.  Once a woman sees that you're a devoted dad first and foremost, they'll usually respect the sanctity of that and keep the silliness to a minimum.

Other than that, just realize that being a divorced parent is tough.  But there's also opportunity there to form a relationship with your kid that might otherwise not be possible.

 

Tusken Raider

Footballguy
Lots of simple, but equally  important advice in here. I just divorced last year and have primary custody of our 7-year-old son. The little things (picking him up from school, our dinner conversations, off-the-wall comments) are everything to me.

I'd say to continue being their dad first, and not try to become their best friend or to overdo your time together. It's okay to buy them gifts/take them places that they wanna go, but it's also okay to say no to them. Remember, you're there to raise them, and spend time together, not to just provide entertainment when you have your time together.

Love the homemade dinner ideas. One of my favorite memories with my son is teaching him to cook for the first time when he was six. He's loved pancakes forever. So I decided to show him how to make them, and he loved it. From measuring the batter, adding water/eggs, and pouring them into the skillet, to learning when to flip them (with help), it was fantastic watching him learn the process, and watch him get totally focused on whatever step he was on. Now he asks to help make pancakes on the weekends. And we do.

Things like that.

 
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I was a teenaged kid with divorced parents, and I can tell you 100% to always take the high road in regards to discussions about your ex-wife.
Same here. My parents’ divorce was amicable but there was some tension. Nothing heavy but both parties had their gripes.  Mom wanted the divorce. Dad fought against for a while but gave in.

My dad never once spoke ill of my mother.  He was an old school gentleman type of guy.  I respected that.

I remember once my mom started to say something negative about my dad. I don’t  remember what it was about but I was probably only like 13.  I think I said something like “Dad doesn’t talk about you that way.”  

She was quiet for a minute and said “you’re right...he’s a good man...I’m glad we’re not married but I’m glad he’s your father.”

 

Arizona Ron

Footballguy
So, I am soon to be divorced dad with 2 teenage kids. I recently moved out and don't see them on a day to day basis (hardest part of the divorce, without question). 

How do you regularly communicate with your kids? My 13 yr old will return texts but my 16 yr old doesn't regularly respond due to her busy schedule. I believe I have solid relationships with both kids, but already miss the aspect of being able to talk with them each night before bed. 
How's the divorce going?  Is it ugly or amicable?  What kind of custody do you plan to have?

 

bro1ncos

IBL Representative
So how do I properly congratulate my ex on her displayed indepence, but say I wish she showed that during our marriage 

 

Franknbeans

Footballguy
Same here. My parents’ divorce was amicable but there was some tension. Nothing heavy but both parties had their gripes.  Mom wanted the divorce. Dad fought against for a while but gave in.

My dad never once spoke ill of my mother.  He was an old school gentleman type of guy.  I respected that.

I remember once my mom started to say something negative about my dad. I don’t  remember what it was about but I was probably only like 13.  I think I said something like “Dad doesn’t talk about you that way.”  

She was quiet for a minute and said “you’re right...he’s a good man...I’m glad we’re not married but I’m glad he’s your father.”
On that note, I am the child of divorced parents and I absolutely remember which parent spoke badly of the other.  It reflects poorly on the one speaking badly.

 

Punxsutawney Phil

Footballguy
I keep seeing a common comment about not talking negative about the ex. Infidelity, substance abuse, poor with finances, verbal abuse, etc.  Sometimes it's pretty clear who was the one who screwed up the relationship.  Props to the parents out there who are able to maintain a level of maturity. This must be incredibly difficult at times.

 

msommer

Footballguy
So, I am soon to be divorced dad with 2 teenage kids. I recently moved out and don't see them on a day to day basis (hardest part of the divorce, without question). 

How do you regularly communicate with your kids? My 13 yr old will return texts but my 16 yr old doesn't regularly respond due to her busy schedule. I believe I have solid relationships with both kids, but already miss the aspect of being able to talk with them each night before bed. 
I divorced when my kids were about the same age (then moved to Peru for a spell). I talked to them via Skype for the most part, once in a while, like every two weeks or so. I think the trick is to stay relevant to their lives and offer support and advice. And ensure there is no further conflict between the adult parties. When they complained about their mom, I always said first, why she was behaving the way she did (whatever triggered the complaint) then discussed it in an adult manner, trying not to take sides. I think my kids enjoyed that perspective, of someone that knows the person intimately, and can offer advice on conflict resolution and avoidance.

Anyway, my kids are now 18 and soon to be 16 and while I now reside in the same country as them I do live a bit away, but we still talk (and meet) - and send each other funny/thought provoking stuff on various platforms.

 

msommer

Footballguy
I keep seeing a common comment about not talking negative about the ex. Infidelity, substance abuse, poor with finances, verbal abuse, etc.  Sometimes it's pretty clear who was the one who screwed up the relationship.  Props to the parents out there who are able to maintain a level of maturity. This must be incredibly difficult at times.
I don't always follwo this advice, depending on the circumstances, but make sure to provide lots of context.

My ex have certain issues (so do I), my kids know about them, they are impacted by them. I always thought it silly not to adress the elephant in the room. So when the issue appears I confront it.

With the context that maturity and distance affords. And with potential strategies for conflict avoidance and resolution.

I think my daughters appreciate it. At least they tell me they do. And I have never heard a negative word about it from my ex, so either she doesn't know or realize what I am doing and seeing/appreciating the results

 

Johnnymac

Footballguy
Excellent points made by many.  I guess the big things for me was to always be there for my kids games, school activities, holidays, etc.  I also never talk badly about their mother.  This was easy for me because I dont have anything bad to say about her, our divorce was very amicable.  We all still get together for holidays and we also try to get together as a whole family several times a year.  Our main goal was to make it as easy as possible for our kids.

Divorce with kids is not fun.  But it doesnt have to ruin your life.  Just be the best parent you can be and dont be selfish.

 

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