For the Single Mom:

For divorced parents to each play a role in raising happy, healthy children, there must be open communication. Single mothers should try to create a lifestyle with emotional independence, as well as healthy dialog with their ex-husbands regarding the children. 

Every Mom wants to raise responsible, healthy and well adjusted children. Even though you may not want to talk to the other parent after the romantic relationship ends, you still have a very important relationship, and it’s the most important one of all: a parenting relationship. 

If both parents are capable of having safe and healthy relationships with their children, the importance of having both parents involved in a child's life can't be overstated.

A non-residential mother's engagement, accessibility and responsibility or a non-residential father's are equally important and imperative to raising children who will be well adjusted out in the world. The residential parent, more than 80% of the time the mother, should encourage and nurture a positive relationship with the non-residential parent and put aside anger and focus on the well being of the child bearing in mind that they have a great deal of influence on the quality of the relationship with the non-residential parent.

For the Single Dad:

What does it really mean to be a good father? What did your father tell you, that has stayed with you throughout your life? Was there a lesson from him, a story, or a moment that helped to make you who you are? Is there a special memory that makes you smile when you least expect it? 

Every Dad wants to raise responsible, healthy and well-adjusted children, teaching them values and attitudes that will serve them well throughout their lives. After a divorce, it is essential that you still give them as much of your time as possible even if that means staying close to home. But how can a Dad balance work, establish a new residence and still be there for his kids? Perhaps to start, let the children be part of finding and moving into any new place away from the family home whether it is an apartment or house. It is important that children know it will be a place for them to consider home as well, so being part of the process will help the transition. If they are to have their own space in the "new" place, let them be involved in picking and choosing items which make them feel comfortable. Nothing feels worse than being a stranger in your own father's home. It is important to continue the bond you've established and let them know it is their home too. Even if the visitation is limited compared to the relationship that you used to enjoy, it's absolutely crucial that dads make this visitation time the best possible experience for their children as well as themselves. Do the things you always did. If you were a husband who cooked, continue to cook, but if you didn't, invite them to learn with you. No matter what you're attempting. Let them into your life. Look for ways you can include them in your life and ways you can continue to be involved in theirs. 

There is nothing harder than trying to re-establish a new lifestyle for you and your children outside the family home, but it will be okay. Just like anything new, it will take a little time to get used to. Sometimes it is fine just to watch television together or take a ride or just talk. Talk with your kids about the types of activities they would like to do; ask them how they would like to spend their time with you. Be open and honest and over time, you'll establish a natural rhythm that will transform "fathering by appointment" into wonderful memories.
It's not so easy living in two separate households. Going from one home to the other causes everyone to feel jet lag. My kids needed time to get reacquainted with me in a different role and their surroundings. I had to be careful not to push. I was afraid I'd make it harder for them to adjust by changing the rules or by making them feel bad about something different from their mother's house, but we eventually sorted it out. It was tough at first to make sense out of all the changes that were happening, but I figured if I didn't add to the confusion it would become a "new" normal, and it did. 

Money was tight at first, but I figured as long as they had something special in my home that they knew was theirs, it would be okay. I knew that children felt more comfortable when they have a place that is just theirs. It can be a room, a chest, a dresser, a desk, a bookcase...some place special where they can keep things and know it will be waiting for them when they return. We painted out a couple old dressers I found and put up posters in the hall of things they were interested in, and then over the next year or so we had fun collecting mementos of things we did together. I finally ran out of hall space, but eventually I was able to get a little bigger place, so we had lots of new ideas before we even moved in.

I enjoy our time together and actually spend more focused time than I did when I was still living at home. Maybe we don't have the quantity of time we used to, but the quality of the time we spend together has greatly improved. I wish it hadn't taken a divorce to make me understand just how precious our time together was, but I'm glad I took the lesson seriously.

That all sounds great, but my main problem being a weekend Dad was that my kids didn't want to stay home and be "normal" after I got my divorce They thought it was like vacation when they came to visit and they expected to be entertained all the time. I kept thinking if I showed them a good time, I could win them over the disappointment they were feeling from now being from a broken home, and before I realized what was happening, I began competing for who could show them the best time. It became a contest -- if I didn't make them go to bed at their normal time, maybe they'd still like me or maybe even like me better. At some point I finally had to get a grip and that was almost harder than right after the divorce. We aren't always back on track and I still feel I have to compete with their friends, their Mom, their grandparents for time and attention. It's still hard and I hope it will get back to normal soon.

How can I make it better or get back to normal?
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