If weekends are the only quality time you spend with your kids, here’s how to make each one a winner.
Weekends are fathers’ days. For many dads it’s the only time they can bond, prove their worth as paternal role models and fix their kid’s bike. For dads separated from their children by more than just a busy week, those 48 hours are crucial. Get them wrong and you could end up among the 40% of divorced dads who lose contact with their kids after just two years. So here’s how to get them right:
DON’T GO UNPREPARED
DO CALL AHEAD ‘
“If you’ve only got the-Weekend with your kids, phone their mum for a news update beforehand,” advises Jim Parton, divorced dad and counselor at UK charity Families Need Fathers. “It’s all too easy for any news that mum meant to pass on to be forgotten in the mad panic of the Saturday morning pick-up.”
So a quick call before you show up will prevent you treating junior to a Water ship Down DVD on the weekend after Thumper the family pet became a feast for an urban fox.
DON’T WASTE PRECIOUS MOMENTS
DO MAINTAIN RADIO SILENCE
“Switch off your weekday habits and switch off the car radio,” says Parton. Instead of tuning in to Jonathan Ross, use that time in the car when you’re taking them to dance classes or the junior football match to talk “Find out how their week has been, how school’s been, and generally get the conversation going,” adds Parton. There will come a point when the chat dries up – but let the kids be the ones that spin the dial to Radio 1.
DON’T USE PEER PRESSURE
DO STICK TO KIDS’ TALK
“In some situations you may be =1, tempted to confide in your son or daughter as if he or she were a peer,” says Debbie Bruce, policy adviser with lone-parent organization Gingerbread. “Other fathers try putting their side of the argument with their mother across.” But you need to be careful what you say out loud and not make the mistake of turning to your child
MP for emotional support IMP – particularly during a split. You may not realize it, but in doing so you could be causing distress to the child.
And never burden the kids with your work worries and your plan to consolidate credit card debt. If you moan about your responsibilities in front of them, they’ll grow up to moan about theirs too. “Let children be children, and find other adults for companionship and support,” adds Bruce.
DON’T FORCE THE FUN
DO BE THEIR NATURAL FATHER
Two solid days of fun, games and Happy Meals may sound like the greatest weekend imaginable, but you can set a dangerous precedent by trying to be Fun Dad. “Showering your kids with treats won’t buy their love,” explains Debbie Bruce, “but it will drive a wider wedge between you and their mother.” She will object to being seen as the enforcer of rules and homework in the week while you’re spoiling them.