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Coping With Life as a Separated Dad

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 26 Sep 2020 |
 
Separated Dad Kid Children Weekend

No father wants to be away from his children, but if you find yourself in this situation, there are certain things you can do to ensure that you have a great time with your children when you do see them. Breaking up with your partner is always painful, and more so if there are children involved.

Even if you only see your children every other weekend, you are still a very important part of their life. It is vitally important to ensure that you try to make peace, if just for the sake of your children, with your children’s mother. Although this may at times seem like an uphill struggle, the hard work it requires is far outweighed by the benefits to both you and your children.

Handovers

Inevitably as a separated dad, you will come into contact with your children's mother. Try to make the handover times as stress-free as possible. If you can, ensure that you don’t express any anger. This flares up the situation and your children may start to play up. If Your Ex Has A New Partner, he is likely to be tense as well, and in such circumstances it is easy to see how situations can get out of hand.

When it’s time to say goodbye, tell your children you love them and give them a hug. Ensure that you tell them when you are going to see them next and, at all times, try to be strong for the sake of your children. Remember, no matter how hurt, angry or bitter you may feel, you are the adult and they are the children!

Time Out

When you haven’t seen your children for a while, it may be tempting to plan a huge weekend full of exhausting activities for them. That’s not necessarily what they need from you as a father. Try, if you can, to balance fun and exciting activities with quiet time for you and your children. Reading a book with them, playing a board game, or just listening to them are all good ways to show them that you care without spending a fortune. (For more information, read our article Making The Most of Your Time With Your Child.)

Keeping in Touch

When you’re not with your children, it’s really important to keep in touch with them by phone, text and email – or whatever way you can. If your children know you are around, thinking of them, you are reinforcing in their mind that you are there for them. They should know that you are always around to talk to them if they need you.

Discipline

If you only see your children twice a month, try not to be too much of a disciplinarian. While this doesn’t mean allowing them to run riot and create total havoc for two days, it does mean that they should come away with happy memories of the time you have spent with them. You may feel that you need to enforce authority and stick to rules, but remember that your kids have been hurt in the process of separation, too. Talk to their mother and agree certain rules, which you can use flexibly, so that your children have some continuity and know the difference between what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong.’

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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I'm in a slightly different situation. I'm a uncle who was a stand in father for my niece and nephew for over 5 years as the only male role model around. My sister reconciled with he ex husband, and they generally ignore the kids. I made it a point to listen to the kids when they were excited about stuff and play with them when they had no friends around, but I also had to make and enforce rules and boundaries. They are in the age range where they get wired for who they will be in the future and being treated like a nuisance will only lead to bad decisions in adulthood. I try to be around for the kids as much as possible, but I cant help but feel bad that the kids are being treated like they don't matter anymore, and it frankly tears me up to see it.
dresden - 26-Sep-20 @ 6:33 AM
I havnt seen my kids for 5 years My fUghter is now almost 19 and my son 17 I dont know them and they dont kniw me
Scott Wilson - 8-Sep-20 @ 8:23 AM
After 4.5 years having to deal with hundreds of false allegations from my ex, I've given up all hope and walked away from it all. My son was taken into care just before christmas 2019. He's still in care now. I've done nothing wrong at all. No charges brought against me, not even a fact finding hearing. My 10 year old son loves me very much indeed. However, after 9 months of being in care and the social services vilifying me at every opportunity and treating me like the worst sort of scum imagineable, my son has turned against me and doesn't want to see me any more. The social services, CAFCASS, the judiciary, the police, my son's school, all have inexplicably taken up a position against me and I can see no way through it. I've completely withdrawn from the proceedings and now I'm utterly heartbroken.
James - 7-Sep-20 @ 6:35 PM
Neither one of us intended to be a single parent. Nobody does. It’s not been easy. In fact it’s been an outright struggle. I’m fully aware that each and every situation is unique and therefore I will be brief in explaining how I found success co-parenting. 1) dating someone else only adds complexity 2) financial support is crucial 3) daily contact is a must 4) always show unity I the face of adversity 5) share your hobbies I’m far from a perfect father but I’ve seen a few things that my mates go through n I feel it could be simplified if they just made an extended effort to get along with the mum. Your child will never be happier than having both parents at the same time. Bury the differences and move forward together. Best of luck ??
Ginge - 6-Sep-20 @ 4:07 AM
The first sentence got me. No real dad want to be away from his children. Some males father children and have difficulty being present in their lives. I don’t get it really and I find it quite selfish to father children with someone only to see the irreconcilable differences after the birth of a child. To me, walking away says more than society lets on about the lack of confidence in that man than his perspective on why he can not be someone that is there 24/7 with his children. No matter what makes tell themselves, it doesn’t ease the pain of that child, it doesn’t assure that child that he/ she is loved or cared for. They still cry for you well into their teens. They still look for you to be there when they have something important to say.It mattered to you when you were a boy, but your child doesn’t get that privilege. The answer is you don’t have to miss your children. It’s a choice to be away. Deep down you know that. This is not geared towards the publisher, but this is what I would tell my kid’s father. I made many sacrifices to see my kids smile multiple times a day. I go to school, work, educate, and give my kids an abundant amount of love on everyday. Their dad only sees them on Wednesday and every other weekend. His total amount of days he sees them total 1 month out of the year. However on social media, he’s a doting father and misses them. I would love for him to be the father he pretends to be. I would love nothing more than to stop seeing my kid’s disappointment and cry by the front door. Waiting for the person who claimed to miss them.
MegB - 6-Sep-20 @ 12:44 AM
I have had enough myself of the inability to stop the other parent from ignoring covid-19 safety advice. The children are not able to help themselves. My child was aware of being at a party that was not supposed to occur and was powerless to help himself. Since confiding in me it has also been unfruitful. Services in my area did not find themselves needed to be involved though thought it was not right. There is no sufficient power to help stop the harm potential with covid-19. Mentally all can be very flustration and confusing. In the question of evidence of such things. It is difficult to obtain as the child is out of your care also. Your child's word is not powerful enough when only spoken to you also. Record everything! Date, time, location, who, action, taken, outcome of action. Unfortunately a parent upto no good and not putting the child first is difficult to pin down. I wish you patience, luck and God's blessing in your struggle.
LittleKing - 30-Aug-20 @ 2:13 PM
I need advice I’m trying so hard to be nice to my ex we been broken up a months now but things keep happening. where we have to contact each other but she always with her new boyfriend she adamant that they have only started talking but they were meeting just before we split. Am I right to be jealous or am I being pathetic. It just hurts so much seeing her with someone else so soon and she keeps lying. Also since we broke up we haven’t been in a good place and she decided to text me saying I think I have COVID-19 so I had the children and said why she said she had some symptoms. So I told her she couldn’t have the boys for 14 day and need to isolate I believed if she had it was her own faulty as she was breaking rules going out with him and a few other mates until 1 in the morningleaving me at home with the kids to do everything. When I told her shecouldn’t have the children for 14 days she turned around and said I was joking. Bearing in mind we wasn’t in a place for joking and that even though it not a laughing matter. So I ask her if she wanted the children back to isolate for 14 or get a home test she done the home test yesterday but she still not following any rules. I have been told I’m being stupid I believe I’m doing right by my kids can someone be honest with me and tell me if I’m stupid or doing the right thing please.
Smith - 25-Jun-20 @ 11:51 PM
I need advice I’m trying so hard to be nice to my ex we been broken up a months now but things keep happening. where we have to contact each other but she always with her new boyfriend she adamant that they have only started talking but they were meeting just before we split. Am I right to be jealous or am I being pathetic. It just hurts so much seeing her with someone else so soon and she keeps lying. Also since we broke up we haven’t been in a good place and she decided to text me saying I think I have COVID-19 so I had the children and said why she said she had some symptoms. So I told her she couldn’t have the boys for 14 day and need to isolate I believed if she had it was her own faulty as she was breaking rules going out with him and a few other mates until 1 in the morningleaving me at home with the kids to do everything. When I told her shecouldn’t have the children for 14 days she turned around and said I was joking. Bearing in mind we wasn’t in a place for joking and that even though it not a laughing matter. So I ask her if she wanted the children back to isolate for 14 or get a home test she done the home test yesterday but she still not following any rules. I have been told I’m being stupid I believe I’m doing right by my kids can someone be honest with me and tell me if I’m stupid or doing the right thing please.
Smith - 25-Jun-20 @ 11:49 PM
I need advice I’m trying so hard to be nice to my ex we been broken up a months now but things keep happening. where we have to contact each other but she always with her new boyfriend she adamant that they have only started talking but they were meeting just before we split. Am I right to be jealous or am I being pathetic. It just hurts so much seeing her with someone else so soon and she keeps lying. Also since we broke up we haven’t been in a good place and she decided to text me saying I think I have COVID-19 so I had the children and said why she said she had some symptoms. So I told her she couldn’t have the boys for 14 day and need to isolate I believed if she had it was her own faulty as she was breaking rules going out with him and a few other mates until 1 in the morningleaving me at home with the kids to do everything. When I told her shecouldn’t have the children for 14 days she turned around and said I was joking. Bearing in mind we wasn’t in a place for joking and that even though it not a laughing matter. So I ask her if she wanted the children back to isolate for 14 or get a home test she done the home test yesterday but she still not following any rules. I have been told I’m being stupid I believe I’m doing right by my kids can someone be honest with me and tell me if I’m stupid or doing the right thing please.
Smith - 25-Jun-20 @ 11:45 PM
I need advice I’m trying so hard to be nice to my ex we been broken up a months now but things keep happening. where we have to contact each other but she always with her new boyfriend she adamant that they have only started talking but they were meeting just before we split. Am I right to be jealous or am I being pathetic. It just hurts so much seeing her with someone else so soon and she keeps lying. Also since we broke up we haven’t been in a good place and she decided to text me saying I think I have COVID-19 so I had the children and said why she said she had some symptoms. So I told her she couldn’t have the boys for 14 day and need to isolate I believed if she had it was her own faulty as she was breaking rules going out with him and a few other mates until 1 in the morningleaving me at home with the kids to do everything. When I told her shecouldn’t have the children for 14 days she turned around and said I was joking. Bearing in mind we wasn’t in a place for joking and that even though it not a laughing matter. So I ask her if she wanted the children back to isolate for 14 or get a home test she done the home test yesterday but she still not following any rules. I have been told I’m being stupid I believe I’m doing right by my kids can someone be honest with me and tell me if I’m stupid or doing the right thing please.
Smith - 25-Jun-20 @ 11:16 PM
I need some advice please. I have been alienated from my daughter since she was 13 and her dad& his mom did everything possible to separate us. They started brainwashing her very early on. They changed her phone # at 12 told her not to give it to me. They played tons of hurtful mind games between us. I don't know what her # is or if she is ok. It's like having a child you know is alive but feels like there gone forever. [ Like a death] If anyone knows how to find your child or a phone # to try & work on your relationship please tell me. I am desperate.I cry almost daily. Haven't seen or spoken in 8 years. Thank you, Trisha
trix - 22-Jun-20 @ 5:58 AM
iv binSeparated from my wife 2 months now she like me to move out during lockdown it was the hardest thing iv ever done 14 years is a long to just go from with my 4 kids to nothing I find it hard I keep phoning her i know I should not and I have to let go my kids are my world in alway want to be in there lifes as a good dad my head is all over the place and sometimes I wish I was not even here any more but it not about me it about my 4 kids they still need me so I will try and stop calling her unless it about the kids keep away from her it going to be hard i know it like given up smoking hard to let go but in time it will happen take one day at a time and who kick people out of lockdown not right hate this year already
bazza - 14-Jun-20 @ 3:19 PM
I’m in the middle of a separation from my partner, still very new and very raw. We have a 2 year old together and she has 2 kids from previous who are 6&9. We always done everything as a family, I have an excellent bond with the 2 kids who aren’t mine and an unbreakable one with our 2 year old. We broke up begging of January, I moved out, watched the kids every night whilst she worked and then left, mostly taking our 2 year old to sleep with me as she wanted me too & also myself and him did too. I’d drop him back in the mornings before work & it went on like that. Anyway, I started staying over again near the end of January up until last Friday where after a good week & a good day shopping she decided she hated me and phoned the police. I’ve had no contact with her since, I’ve asked to see the kids and she’s point blank refused. She has an appointment next week with her solicitor to draw up an agreement as she said she doesn’t want to go through court which is fine because neither do I but until then she’s been advised to not let me have contact. The relationship had been rocky then fine some days her mood changing instantly. Not seeing my son or any of the kids is killing me. I’ve asked for 50/50 custody but had no reply yet because her solicitor is on holiday. Any advice on how to cope it try see my kids before that?
Dave - 25-Feb-20 @ 10:35 AM
Hi, me and my partner have been separatedfor a while but still live in the same house, a the minute, I have been sleeping downstairs for the last few years but my kids heard me on the phone with my ex, so then I had the unpleasant conversation with them, telling them that they haven’t done anything wrong at all, it's just that our relationship has gone as far as it can, I've told them that no one is really to blame, it's just that our relationship has run its course and is making us parents unhappy, which we don't want the kids to pick up on it too much, I know that they are not stupid and will know that something is wrong, I keep reassuring them that the only difference there will be is that I won't be livi g in the house and they will see me just as much as they do now, they seem to understand and seem fine with it but I feel like my heart has been ripped out and are struggling to see a better side of the situation, for some reason, me ending it keeps jumping into my head, I love my kids to the stars and back and wouldn't do anything like that but the idea seems more plausible, each time it pops in, I hope I'm not the only one that feels like this
Mikey - 25-Nov-19 @ 6:06 AM
@mikey.i don’t have time to cope with not seeing the kids .i have to deal with working on a conveyor belt for the next( 30 years on minimum wage) men I need holiday before I even start the job might take one why I still have some penny’s left .
C.laurie - 25-Nov-19 @ 3:09 AM
@mikey.like the article said coping with life as a separated dad .you try coping with my life I quit my job for no reason and only have 10 thousand pounds left in cash .the thought off working on a assembly line for the rest off my life is depressing but I have job if I want it .i think I will take it and become a slave to a conveyor belt doing the same thing for the next 30 years .
C.laurie - 25-Nov-19 @ 2:57 AM
Hi, me and my partner have been separatedfor a while but still live in the same house, a the minute, I have been sleeping downstairs for the last few years but my kids heard me on the phone with my ex, so then I had the unpleasant conversation with them, telling them that they haven’t done anything wrong at all, it's just that our relationship has gone as far as it can, I've told them that no one is really to blame, it's just that our relationship has run its course and is making us parents unhappy, which we don't want the kids to pick up on it too much, I know that they are not stupid and will know that something is wrong, I keep reassuring them that the only difference there will be is that I won't be livi g in the house and they will see me just as much as they do now, they seem to understand and seem fine with it but I feel like my heart has been ripped out and are struggling to see a better side of the situation, for some reason, me ending it keeps jumping into my head, I love my kids to the stars and back and wouldn't do anything like that but the idea seems more plausible, each time it pops in, I hope I'm not the only one that feels like this
Mikey - 24-Nov-19 @ 11:53 PM
@jamz.hi I amAdam and I lost my eve and I can’t cope on a everydaybasis because i get flash backs to when eve ate the apple .
Upset Adam - 4-Nov-19 @ 2:33 PM
I can relate, I type this with tears on my eyes. I have been broken since July this year, she has moved on with her life and admired after 8 years she didn’t love me. That alone has devastated me as the amount of effort I put in is bizzare. I have a 5 year old son, words can’t describe my love that I have for him. He is not allowed to stay the night with me and that’s killing me as he was use to only me putting him to sleep every night. The hardest part is actually taking him out which she does allow me to do however it’s the saying goodbye that eats up inside me every time. I feel loss can’t cope on an everyday basis. I love you Adam and I always will do daddy.
Jamz - 4-Nov-19 @ 12:33 AM
So I'm not sure where I stand..almost two months ago my wife decided to leave to take baby to doctors while I was at work. She didn't come back. She took all of the baby's clothes and went to stay at her parents where she is now. On my way home from work she and her family all blocked my phone number. So I couldn't get in touch or know where my son was. Her father did pick up eventually pretending he doesn't know anything. Anyway she is still there posting pics of my son online constantly.
MJ - 27-Oct-19 @ 2:44 PM
@mick.i know the feeling mate when your child refuse to talk to you and you been kept away with police orders and on top it find out some home truths .the courts is your only option mate you if want contact with your children .
C.laurie - 23-Oct-19 @ 3:56 PM
Hi, my ex boyfriend now has not seen his twin boys for a number of months.They refuse to see him and he feels really low.This has been one of the causes of us breaking up as he would take things out on me when he received an email from his ex and the whole day would be spoilt.Reading the messages on here has made me fully realise his pain.It breaks my heart for all of you.I am lucky.Although, I divorced my husband I had a lot of contact with my teenage kids.I wish I could continue to help him but it is not to be
Mick - 23-Oct-19 @ 10:55 AM
Hi, I've recently separated from my partner after I woke up from a night shift for her to tell me she doesn't love me anymore, I have a 3 year old and not even a 3 month old we were engaged to be married. Straight away my instincts from being through a separation from a child put me straight into my kids shoes and I needed to ensure we had structure for them and we have a plan between us so I have the kids 2 nights a week and I pay child maintenance since the get go as this has gone on for about 3 weeks now. She has been to see a doctor and bluntly said that she doesn't have post natal depression and handed her a leaflet and I really do not trust the doctors we see as they can have oversight. We argued at times but it was never that serious I just don't understand and I'm so lost! I've tried getting her back and it just makes things worse but then there are days where we went places and we acted as if nothing had changed between us. I really don't get it!
J - 20-Oct-19 @ 12:47 AM
@hartim.ithink he will be fine and not to worry.he will find he’s( feet again) we (all) get knocked down ,hurt have the feeling off been defeated .but in the end he will ding he’s feet again.
Moontheloon - 19-Oct-19 @ 5:17 AM
Hello! it’s heartbreaking to read all these posts and comments. I am sorry that you are going through hard times too. I’ll try and keep this short. my brother has just began the process of a divorce. He absolutely adores his 4yo daughter. The wife cheated on him with a work colleague which is devastating to say the least. He is truly heart broken and has mention “giving up” and “can’t cope” with a high rate of suicide in men you can see my concern. He is so crushed that he won’t be the family man he loves to be. Being that familyis/was everything to him. So I need some advice on how to help him though this. Or is there any light I can shine on him to make him see a brighter future than the one he currently sees? He also works in the army far away from our parents and other relatives. He is also having to move back into the army barracks on his own which I’m scared will make him feel even more lonely. really need help and fast! thank you Harriet x
Hartim - 19-Oct-19 @ 3:08 AM
@perkins.d.after reading your story it hit home not for me but for my brother Ronnie .now we are twin brothers we do [everything together] and yes my brother ron has been in a a few hospitals for the [criminally insane] he can be a weird fellow at times but one thing i know about my brother is he loves he's daughter .and[ god help] anyone who hurts he's daughter[ seriously ].my brother planned to[ kidnap] he's own daughter gods truth . because he thinks her mother is a disgusting parasite and wants to[ kill her gods truth] .but my brother is a good father and loves he's daughter 100 percent .
reggie - 18-Oct-19 @ 9:05 PM
Hey, am I the only one who just feels completely an utterly empty inside me and my ex broke up around 2 and a half years ago maybe 3 I can't remember exactly and I still can't get back to my normal self I mean I see my kids every second weekend and I love absolutely every minute of it with them but Sunday will come and a big gush of being lonely empty and depressed comes over me every single time it hurts so much I really miss being with my family and seeing them happy and playing and just running a muck and what not I have a 6 year old and twins who are 3 I'm pretty sure I've missed majority of there accomplishments growing up I feel useless and to be honest feel like just giving up and lying down I've attempted this twice in my life due to this depression and anxiety and feeling like I have to force myself just to get up each day I've been in a few phsyc wards aswell as hospitals for treatment but I just ended up like a zombie and didn't no what's what and who was who now I can't work as can't cope with my thoughts that constantly run through my head day in day out I've tried just about everything but it's like I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel how am I ever going to be happy in myself when all I want is to be with the ones I truly love every second weekend is not much that's only 25 times a year I get them, now my ex is ok with me regarding the kids and will let me have them whenever I want really but I choose not to because it really really hurts me as they just have to leave again and then im just sitting there staring at all there belongings heartbroken again I'm just worried I might make the wrong decision and end up breaking there hearts with them getting told there daddy is gone ??
Perkins.d - 18-Oct-19 @ 1:41 PM
I can't take this anymore, I'm a young dad who is absolutely broken by the absence of my son, he's 3 and he Is My absolute world, I can now only see him in a contact centre for 1 hour a week as I have a criminal record, I can't take this pain anymore I want to be with him every day
G2t - 14-Oct-19 @ 10:49 PM
I’m sorry to say this but sometimes you have to fight for your kids to, I don’t mean physically I know relationships break up and you move onto others, but when another man thinks he has the right to involve himself with your biological child/ children then you have to do everything in your powers to fight,I don’t get these guys who try to be a father figure knowing their dad is still around are not right to me, they must have something missing, hmm.. So come on grow some balls as these are what made our lovely children and show them that your around for the future and aren’t going away...
Gjk - 17-Sep-19 @ 4:19 AM
I have been reading the comments on here and they are heartbreaking us men have feelings toand it doesn't get easier all my children have grown up and are starting families of their own now my wife left me for my so called best friend but I didn't find that out until later my daughter was then only 1 year old my middle son was 4 and my eldest son was 10 I remember the day they was leaving and I was saying goodbye to them and yes it is soul destroying even tho I have seen them on every other weekend up until they were older and had lives of themselves I feel like I missed out on so much of their lives being a part time fatherand I know I can never ever get that back it's so hard to explain to someone that hasnt been through it I am 57 now and I still sometimes cry at those missed years with my children and for everyone that is going through this I wish you strength
Dad - 17-Sep-19 @ 12:11 AM
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