We have all heard the rhetoric regarding children of divorce. That they are disadvantaged, maldjusted basket cases. I say it doesn’t have to be this way. Besides, I personally know a few people from “intact” homes that fit those categories and much worse.

My divorce decree was finalized in April 2003, and my children from that marriage were 10, 6, and 4 years of age at that time.  With current ages of 18, 14, and 12  (in less than 2 weeks) I can say they are thus far fine upstanding people.  All three are honors students, active in their church, and have excellent social/moral compasses. I like to think the actions that my ex-wife and I have taken and continue to take are a large part of this.

First and foremost, we (my ex-wife and I) sat the children down before I moved out of the home and explained to them that Mommy and Daddy where separating. We heavily stressed to them that they bore no blame in this action. Yes, it was hard to stare them in the face and see their reactions and fears, but it would have been even harder to live with myself otherwise.

Second, We made it very clear to the children that regardless of what we felt/thought towards each other, we were still united in the behaviors that would be expected from them. We did not tolerate “but at Mommy’s we are allowed to do blah blah” or  “at Daddy’s we are allowed to do blah blah”, not that they didn’t test the waters.

Third, we didn’t attempt to use the kids against each other. It is sickening to see people use the children as  pawns to force something from the other parent, and feel they are justified in doing so.

Fourth, be careful what you say in anger and who you say it to. How would you like your children to overhear you saying something horrible about their other parent, who has only showed them love and parented them the best way they know how. People love to spread juicy tidbits and are often not careful who is listening.

Fifth, when sharing custody, truly share the responsibility. If you only have the children during the weekends, don’t assume that is all you are responsible for. Your responsibility does not end with visitation and the support check being written.

Sixth, be careful of who you bring into the lives of your children.  That should be fairly obvious, but your children do not need a new auntie or uncle every few weeks. Take time to get truly know a person and be fairly certain that are staying around for a long time before they are involved in your children’s lives. The ex and I are both remarried and we both are confident and know enough about the others new spouse to feel comfortable with our children living in the home with them.

Seventh, parenting is not a popularity contest.  Being the cool parent does not make you the proper parent.

Eighth, your visitation agreement shouldn’t be inflexible, but one should be respectful of the other parent having a life. No showing or canceling at the last-minute for anything less than a life and death emergency is not only rude to the other parent, it is being a poor parent.

Ninth, be there for children physically and emotionally. Let them know you are always a phone call, text message, tweet, Facebook, tumbler,  or whatever away.

Tenth, learn from you mistakes. Every parent makes mistakes from time to time, the great parent learns from their mistakes. I often tease my oldest and tell him he was my practice child. I know that with each child I have made mistakes, but I strive to learn and do better.

I in no way to claim to be a child psychologist, but I am a father of four, sharing my experiences to hopefully help someone and learn something along the way

Steve AKA Father No Rest

Special Thanks to Jared, Emerald, and Isaiah for being the well adjusted children you are. Daddy loves you.