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Coping With Life as a Separated Dad

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 24 Nov 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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My ex and I had a baby. I couldn’t take care of them at the given time...2.5 years later with contact with the mother. I got to see my daughter grow but the goal was to be able to tc of them. Even flew and saw them spent time with them but due to Covid it was difficult. I wanted to spend quality time to get to know each other again. We slept together and things were looking more positive and then I had to leave the country but I told them I’d take them with me so we can start a new life I’d look out for them. Fast forward 2 months since I left she’s seeing someone else and now I just fear I have lost my daughter...what is a life with just talking through a phone or video call being miles away. I have lost a part of me. I am destroyed mentally and emotionally.
Jo - 24-Nov-20 @ 10:46 AM
My step son got married a few years ago and has two beautiful kids. We have rarely seen them in years. That's not the problem. He's recently separated after a few years and it's clear, he's hasn't been coping with fatherhood for some time and he either won't ask for help or ask us even. He loves his kids but it's clear he's feeling overwhelmed by them? We're really worried about his sanity and wonder if he's close to a breakdown?
Honey bun - 28-Oct-20 @ 8:20 PM
Hello, I am struggling right now, basically me and the wife split up in Feb and I was having the kids every other weekend but in May contact was stopped and she took out a Non Molestation order for her so I cant contact her or go within 100m of the house, I don't know how she got this, I haven't spoke to my kids since May and I'm struggling, any advice please?
Wayne1981 - 13-Oct-20 @ 11:33 AM
When it comes to relationships, I'm fond of saying, “You never really know what goes on between people.” People who really enjoy each other. Respect and support one another. In these families, the parents put their relationship before the kids. They are the dynamic centriforce around which the family's life orbits. And everyone thrives as a result. In cases like this, spending the quality time as a family is the most important factor for success. If we're doing something together, even for an hour a day, our kids are more than happy. If you don't know what to do and what is the perfect togetherness activity, start to play chess with your kid. Regardless of the child’s age, chess develops concentration, increases patience and positively affects the intellectual and emotional development of the child. One thing your child will appreciate most is that playing chess is also great fun. The rules of chess are very simple and children can learn them already from around the age of three. Not everyone can or wants to become a professional chess player but everyone can use chess for learning. For this purpous I can recommend a book (net-bossorg/chess-puzzles-for-kids-by-maksim-aksanov) with bunch of great exercises, which will help you and your kids to be better in this :)
robdowning - 30-Sep-20 @ 10:22 PM
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
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