If you are a father going through a divorce case and a child custody battle, you might feel as though your contribution to your child’s upbringing is negligible. Similarly, if you are a mother, you might feel as though you are the more impactful parent and that your ex-husband is an afterthought. This is incorrect. Studies have shown that children do better in just about every way if they have a loving and involved father in their lives. Whether you are a mom or a dad, read on to find out how important a father is and how fathers can make sure that they are able to interact and bond with their children regardless of their marital status.
Children Are Better Off With Fathers
Children unequivocally do best when they have two involved parents. This is true in almost every case; the exception would be if the father is abusive. Studies have shown that while mothers tend to be more patient and nurturing, fathers are the parents who tend to prepare for children for life. They play with and relate to their children in ways that are different than how mothers do, and this is a good thing. Fathers often teach children to take more risks and are often more adept at identifying behavioral issues in children than mothers are.
Children who have involved fathers tend to do better in school. Teenagers experience less alcohol and drug experimentation and less teen pregnancy if their fathers are engaged with their daily lives. Children with two parents also experience less poverty, which helps them to stay physically healthier than children being raised by only one parent.
Adults Are Better Off With Fathers
The benefits of having an involved father do not end when a child turns 18. Young adults who have good relationships with emotionally stable fathers tend to have healthier relationships, particularly romantic relationships. A boy learns from his father how to treat women, and a girl learns how a woman should be treated from her father. This is something important to keep in mind even once you are divorced; treating your child’s mother with respect despite not wanting to be married to her anymore will make a long-lasting impact on your child.
Also, the benefits of childhood relating to a higher socioeconomic level and better school performance will follow a child into adulthood. Adults who had the opportunity to go to college or trade school will tend to have higher incomes than those who did not, and the health benefits of having good physical health during childhood can extend into adulthood.
How Fathers Can Get Custody of Their Children
If you are a father who is divorcing your child’s mother or if you are not married to the child’s mother and you are no longer together, you might erroneously believe that mothers usually get full custody of children. While this was sometimes the case in the past, judges now understand how important fathers are to their children’s well-being and will generally award joint custody to both mothers and fathers unless there are extenuating circumstances. Go into your divorce or custody case with the expectation that you will receive joint physical custody. Work with your ex-spouse to develop a co-parenting plan that is fair for everyone and in the best interest of the child. If your ex is not amenable to working with you, don’t hesitate to get legal representation. Private attorneys are a good option, but they are very expensive. A legal resource group like National Family Solutions can help for a fraction of the cost.
Ways Dads Can Bond With Their Children
Some fathers aren’t sure how to bond with their children. This can be particularly tricky if you only have your child in your home two weekends per month or a few weeks out of the year. While this arrangement is less common than it once was, it is sometimes necessary when the parents live far apart or other circumstances make it impossible to share custody more evenly.
There are ways that you can bond with your child regardless of whether he or she lives with you. Here are some ideas:
- Call your child regularly. Unless there is a court order against it, you should be able to call your son or daughter on a regular basis to see how everything is going and to chat about whatever they want to talk about. If he or she has a busy schedule, carve out time during the week that you will call. If you can talk for 15 minutes twice per week, that will give you great insight into what your child is up to so you can pick up where you left off during the next phone call or visit.
- Make your child welcome in your home. Whether he or she lives with you all of the time, half of the time, or just for the equivalent of a few weeks per year, they should have a place in your home that is theirs. It could be a separate bedroom or a pull-out bed in your office or den, depending on how often they are there. Also, they should have clothing, toys, the foods they like, and other items that make it feel like their home.
- Remember that time is more important than money. It can be tempting to overindulge your child when they are with you, particularly if you don’t see them very often. Time playing and talking with you is more important to your child than lavish vacations, fancy restaurant meals, and constant activities. While outings and trips are fun, the times they will remember and that will impact them the most are the times when you are creating traditions in your home, talking about what is important to them, and just spending time together.
If you are a dad who is feeling insecure about your position when it comes to your child, rest assured that you are important and valuable! Do what you can to create a lasting bond that will help your child succeed not only now but also for decades into the future.