One of the greatest challenges after divorce is finding ways to spend enough time with your kids. This is especially true for fathers — a census report shows that just 1 in 6 custodial parents are dads.
That means there are a lot of fathers who don’t live with their kids — and according to a Pew Research Center study, this could deeply impact the relationship between father and child. The amount of time a father spends with his children drops substantially if the dad is living in a different home than his kids post-divorce. The findings from Pew Research Center show that while as many as 93% of live-in dads report talking with a child about a child’s day, or having a meal with their child, that figure drops to 31% and 16% for fathers living apart from their children.
Luckily, there are many ways in which single parents can go beyond live-in arrangements, in order to spend time with their children in a post-divorce setting. Living separately from your children simply means you’ll have to find new and creative ways to spend quality time together, and play an influential role in their lives.
Get Involved in Their Schooling
Single parent or not, it’s always important to be invested in your child’s education. A Center for Public Education survey found that two-thirds of American teachers felt their students would do better if parents were more involved in their education.
One of the easiest ways to get involved in your child’s schooling is to help with homework. The Pew Research Center study found that only 1 in 10 fathers living apart from their children help with, or ask about, their child’s schoolwork. With school being such a big part of your child’s life, it’s a natural place where you can get more involved.
There are various ways to become more involved in your children’s schooling, based on their ages. For preschool and primary school children, activities such as reading storybooks, supervising at lunchtime, and volunteering on field trips can be flexible, to fit with your existing schedule. For older children, consider volunteering yourself to help with a school sports program, tutoring, or giving a career talk. While getting hands-on in the classroom is a great option for young kids, volunteering for after-school events can be a less invasive way to show your children that you’re invested — especially as they enter what could potentially be tumultuous teenage years.
Volunteer with their Extracurriculars
After going through a divorce, it’s important for your children to have support as they move forward in their lives; this often means participating in new, or continuing extracurricular activities. As a single parent, you should play a role in making this happen. This is especially important for fathers, since during marriage, mothers were usually the ones who took on the most child care and supervision — about 12.9 hours a week, almost double the 6.5 hours of fathers.
Getting involved in the activities and hobbies your child loves is a great opportunity to connect, and spend time together. Find out if there’s some way you can volunteer with one of your child’s activities. Most extracurriculars offer plenty of ways for parents to help out — in fact, 3 in 10 parents of school-aged children have reported playing an active role in coaching a sport or athletic activity. Whether it’s becoming a Boy Scouts leader, coach of a sports team, or supervising a playground visit, volunteering in extracurriculars is a great way to stay connected with your child’s life. Just make sure your child and your ex are okay with your involvement!