If you are divorced, Father's Day may be painful. You may be thinking that you have lost a chance to be the best father to your children since you are not living with them full time. Actually, that's not true. In fact, it may be just the opposite. You have a chance to be an even better father now.
Most parents considering divorce are worried about the effect on their children. Yet, in my clinical experience, there is a chance that a father's relationship with his children will improve once he is not in everyday contact with his wife.
Many men tell me that to avoid conflict and on-going tension with their wife, they do not come home right away, staying out late to avoid having to face her. Yet, that also means that they are not seeing their children.
So, one benefit of living separately is they may actually spend more time with their children. When they have regular parenting time, they have to make the effort to see their kids, and it's easier to do when they are removed from having to face their wife.
Another benefit, especially if the children are spending blocks of time with father, is he is the only parent present. This means he is responsible for their homework, doctor's appointments, after school activities. He may get to know their friends by chauffeuring them or hosting their sleep-overs. He gets to know their lives.
Of course, it is best if parents can resolve their issues, but if not, divorce does not have to be awful. Long term follow up research on children of divorce shows what I have found in my office. Divorce is not harmful to the children – it's the parents' relationship during the divorce, and afterwards, that makes the difference. If the parents can divorce in a respectful way, the children do not suffer.
Many children tell me they enjoy being with their father so much more after the divorce. He's more involved, he's even more fun.
So, this Father's Day, and at least once a week or two, considering spending some time with each of your children separately. That way you can give each of them your undivided attention and get to know them individually. This is especially important, because if the separation / divorce is not friendly, the children may blame you. Having them together allows them to gang up on you or ignore you. You have a better chance to get to know them – and they you – if you do not have to deal with several children simultaneously.