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4 critical tips for the single dad

You thought that you would work with your spouse to raise your kids. That was always the plan. In your mind, that's just how life would go.

When your spouse asked for a divorce, it shattered those plans. Suddenly, you became more focused than ever on being a great parent. You just knew it was going to be challenging. Single fathers with sole or joint custody face a lot of significant hurdles.

It's great that your kids are already your main focus. That's the best place to start. You can be a terrific father after divorce, and you can stay involved. Use these tips to help:

1. Accept the challenge

Don't fight it. This life comes with challenges. For instance, maybe you need to drop the kids off at school and pick them up. This throws off your work schedule. Instead of getting angry at a change that is out of your control, look at it like a puzzle. What can you do to solve it in a way that puts the children first? When you make something a challenge to yourself, it feels far less unfair and you get a sense of accomplishment when you find a solution and overcome it.

2. See if your work is flexible

Talk to your boss. Explain the situation. Remember, your boss is a person, too. They may understand that you have to make some changes to fit the kids into your new schedule. Maybe they'll let you change your hours or work from home. Don't demand anything, but just sit down and have an honest conversation about your needs and what options you have.

3. Understand your rights

Do you have custody rights or visitation rights? If it's just visitation, does it have to be on a certain day and/or does it have to be supervised? If it's custody, do you get sole custody all of the time or do you share it with your ex? How does that apply to legal decisions and living situations?

Never assume anything. Look into the court order and make sure you really understand all of your rights from the very beginning.

4. Keep the kids as your top priority

It's easy to get caught up thinking about what you want or obsessing over what your ex has done. None of that helps. The children need to be your top priority. Keep them there with every choice and every decision and every action. This helps to diffuse disputes and emotions that would otherwise get directed at your ex. Put those kids first and give them your attention.

These tips can help, but this is still a complex process. You need to know where you stand.

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