Stay in Your Kids Lives, No Matter What

I can't imagine how hard it must be to live life after divorce as a dad. If you don't have 50/50 custody, you may only see your kids every other weekend, some weeknights, and for a couple of weeks during the summer ... if that.

As a mom, I sure do enjoy the times when my kid is with her dad, or like right now, when she's vacationing with her grandparents. I've passed the point where I grieve her absence because we spend so much quality time together.

But if the shoe was on the other foot, and I was only going to see her 5-10% of the time, my heart would literally break into a million pieces.

If you see your kids much, much less than you'd like, there are a few things you should know, and a couple I hope you'll do:

  • Know that if your absence affects you, if affects your kids.
  • Know that the mom, even if she doesn't like you very much these days, knows your kids love you and wants you to love them back.
  • Know that you own your relationship with your kids and you, and only you, 
  • Your kids need their dad!
So ...
  • Call them. Email them. Send them cards. Go to their school events. Show up and keep showing up.
  • When you have time with your kids, put down your smartphone, close that laptop, put away your work, and make the most of each moment. You can always work longer and harder when they aren't with you.
  • Remember, it's not about the money, it's about the time. I always ask my daughter, "If we could do anything together, what would it be?" Most of the time, she wants to pop popcorn and snuggle up while we watch a movie. Cost: $5. Value: Priceless.
I don't remember a lot of things from when I was a kid about our day-to-day life, but I remember special events and times when my parents made me a priority. We went to King's Island, Cosi, and to Williamsburg, and I still remember those trips like they were yesterday. Your kids will remember the special times you have together, too, for the rest of their lives.

You can only do what you can do, but you can do that ... Do it for yourself and your kids. They'll be glad you made the effort and so will you!

3 Ways to Know You're Ready to Date After Divorce

I was encouraged to immediately start dating after my separation. After all, if you’ve tolerated a bad relationship that finally ends, why wouldn’t it make sense to immediately start looking for something great with someone fantastic? A-hem. Seriously, what could possibly go wrong?

My friends rallied around me, told me “I still had it” and began introducing me to eligible bachelors, whether they were a potential fit or not. I dated a few nice people, but for sure my heart was not in it. I had yet to get my bearings, had not even begun to heal, and was certainly more than a little shell-shocked. At the time, even though I didn’t know it, a finalized divorce was still more than a year out. 

My therapist mentioned I needed two years of self-reflection and healing time between significant relationships, and was kind enough to inform me that the clock actually doesn’t start ticking until I had a Divorce Decree in hand. As it turns out, the experts seem to agree.

You might be hearing from friends and well-meaning folks, “You need to get out there.” But what you’re probably feeling is either, “I don’t think I’m ready,” or “I don’t even know where or how to start.” Since I’ve lived through it, I’m a big believer in the two-year rule. Give yourself some time to get used to your new life, discover things about yourself didn’t know, and settle into life as you now know it. 

Then, when you’re past the point of licking some serious post-divorce wounds and you’ve found some inner peace, you might be ready to get out there. 

Here are 3 ways to know for sure it's time to start dating:

1. You’ve thought about what you want, what you don’t want, and identified the deal-breakers. You’ll probably want to attract a new relationship with someone who has at least a few characteristics that are the opposite of your ex. You may want to find someone with some of the same qualities, I mean, he wasn’t all bad, was he? In addition, you want to identify some deal-breakers. I had a few: all activities had to be completely legal, and he had to be completely single and available. Make a list, and be sure to make the process fun.

2. You’re neutral about your ex. You may still have some good feelings of love and fondness, but you’re not in love. On the flip side, you’ve let go of any anger and homicidal feelings. You can think of your ex with no spike in emotions, no pit in your stomach, and maybe even with some thoughts of well wishes.

3. You are actually at least a little excited at the prospect of meeting new people. This is a whole separate post, but if you can think of dating as a big fun adventure where you get to meet fun and exciting new people, you’re good to go. So go!

Unfortunately there’s a necessary time for healing and transition between the end of your marriage and the beginning of something significant that is also healthy and has long-term potential. The good news is, when you do the work you need to do to make it successfully through that transition time, you’re gonna love what’s – and who – is on the other side! 

What Your Ex Isn't Telling You About Your Teenage Daughter

There's a special place in Heaven for parents of teenage ... daughters. I wouldn't be a teenage girl again for any amount of money. Any. It would be even more expensive to make me a single-dad-divorced-parent of a teenage daughter. Specifically of one who is hormonal.

With all of the emotional ups and downs, one minute I observe my daughter feeling terrific, the next moody and a little crazy pants. Add to that a divorced-family situation, and all bets are off.

I spoke with a single dad recently who told me his ex refused to speak with him about his daughter's period. No information about when to expect it, what to have on hand to deal with it, and how to help her deal with the {literal} pain. Yikes.

If the communication between you and your ex is sad at best, here are a few things she's probably not telling you about your daughter and her period, that you definitely need to know:

  1. She will try to play both parents against each other, be on the lookout and don't let this happen. The best antidote for arguments started by what your kid is saying is to have open communication between the parents. Keep your side of the street clean {no bad-mouthing your ex}, assume mom is doing the same, and ignore any information to the contrary. This is regardless of her hormonal status, by the way.
  2. You need period supplies. At between 12-14, your daughter will start her period. This will make her cranky and moody. Remember this, no matter what: her crankiness and emotional-ness is not about you. Don't take it personally and for God's sake, don't engage in the crazy.
  3. If she comes with supplies, go buy duplicates. If she doesn't, take your daughter to Walgreens and ask her to get what she's been using. If she doesn't know, visit and get a box of pads, tampons, and some Teen Formula Pamprin or Midol.
  4. Her period is not an excuse to be disrespectful or rude. Don't take any shit, just remember to see the situation for what it is and what it isn't.
  5. Put a Period Tracker on your smartphone. You can track when she's going to have her period, which will serve as an early-warning system for you. {Get one if you have a girlfriend, too.} She will be sweet as pie during one visit, and the next she could be feeling emotional and vulnerable, and you may for the first time be able to understand what that's all about.
  6. Know that women cycle together, so chances are your ex is going to be on her broomstick at about the same time as your daughter. Just check into the nearest Four Seasons or head out of town on a business trip. You're welcome. 
  7. Invest in some chocolate for your daughter, and some fine wine for you. All will be well.
You've got this, dad. Hang in there, and post any questions in the comments.