Single Dad's Survival Guide
So you were married. And you have kids to prove it. Yeah, me too.
The main thing is that they feel like they are going to be okay. How do you help them feel like that? Keep it together! Don't let them see you cry if you can help it. Don't let them feel like you don't have a clue what you are doing. You may not - but don't let them know that.
If you had a traditional home with mom doing alot of the 'mom' things and you doing alot of the work outside of the home - you will have to do alot of things right and right away.
Try and figure out what exactly she was doing and make sure that stuff still gets done. And don't make the kids do it. YOU do it. You have to be a bit of a super-dad. Later on, you may be able to get the kids to help a little more - but now it's best to let them get over the divorce first. It sure wasn't THEIR idea - but they are suffering right along with you.
Make sure that they know that there is nothing that they could have done to help prevent the divorce and there is nothing that they did to help cause the divorce. It was all mom's fault. Just kidding! Come on! Laugh a little! KEEP HAVING FUN WITH THEM.
Maintain their/your routines, and if necessary - make a few new things that you start to do together. Like Saturday breakfast, or Sunday whatever... Try and keep them in the same schools, the same friends, the same activities, the same church. Let them see that life goes on. Nothing has changed - except mom lives over there, and we live over here. Just give them consistency. Make sure that they understand that you will never stop loving them. If you tell them you stopped loving your wife - they will not believe that you will never stop loving them. So be careful what you say about your ex!
Every kid thinks that maybe mom and dad will get back together somehow. Don't cruch their little hearts! Don't squash their little dreams! Let them think that. Let them wish that. That is all they have known! What is wrong with them wanting what they had? They will ask you questions like: "If mom came back, would you take her back?" Of course you have to say yes to satisfy them
MAKE SURE that the kids never feel that they are a liability. They must feel that they are an asset! They must believe, especially now, that they are a blessing, not a burden.
I know this is a "Survival Guide for Single Dads" but your first priority, if you are a dad, is to secure those kids in their place in your life. Let them know how much you love them.
If you are one of the unfortunate dads who only gets the kids here and there - your task is ten times harder. Do not fall into the trap of picking them up and trying to 'entertain' them. Movies, mini golf, eating out every meal, trips to the mall... These activities will soon bore them. You cannot buy their love or respect this way. I'm not saying do nothing. Just don't think that you have to spend every minute in some wonderful activity. Just spend time with them. Play video games with them. Buy a bicycle and ride with them. Do routine things like real life activities - grocery shopping together, let them help pick the menu items; cooking dinner together; maintain routines, bedtimes - read stories, pray with them; church, out to eat after, then to a park to just walk around. Never complain about the ex or the arrangements. Just let them know how thankful you are for the time you have. Soon they will be older and not have time for you.
Girlfriends. Keep them away from kids. It is confusing for them. To see you with another woman other then mom is not what they want to see. Don't make them witness it. Keep your love-life to yourself. Later, when they ask you how is your love-life, you can answer carefully. But not right away.
Cars. Dont be a selfish idiot. If ex got the family car - use that as the perfect activity to give you something to do together! Get a car that is kid-friendly. Four doors at least! It can be 'ccol' but not a sports car, with kids crammed in back seat. You are a dad. Act like one!
That's all I've got for now. I'll write more later.