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Avoiding Illness While Traveling: How to Stay Healthy

traveling

One of the best parts of going on vacation with your kids is picking out fun souvenirs to bring home with you. But, there’s one souvenir no one wants to come home with – the flu. Sniffles, stomach bugs, and other icky viruses can really put a damper on your family trip. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do for yourself and your youngsters, to reduce your risk of getting sick before and during your travels.

Next time you hit the road, follow these steps to protect your health, so you can focus on cultivating fantastic family memories (instead of foreign germs!).

Step 1: Get Educated Before You Leave

Avoiding illness becomes more of a challenge when you don’t know the risks posed by the place you’re visiting. Before booking your trip, take the time to research your destination. Look into whether the hygiene conditions of food and water are lower than you’re used to, and whether there are insects or wildlife that might carry disease.

At the same time, book doctor appointments – for you, and your children. It’s recommended that you see your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip. Even if you don’t need a checkup, your physician can share advice on defending against infection overseas, and offer necessary vaccines and immunizations if applicable.

Step 2: Start a Habit of Hand Washing

Getting your kids to wash their hands regularly can be difficult – anyone with a three-year-old can attest to this! – however, try to emphasize this habit before (and during) your vacation. Hand-based hygiene becomes increasingly important during times of travel. If you’re traveling on an airplane, or visiting destinations packed with tourists, you’re exposing yourselves to a range of potential illnesses from the people around you.

Frequent hand-washing, or the use of anti-bacterial hand gel, can be particularly effective in fighting the spread of infection – reducing your chances of everything from a common cold to travel diarrhea (talk about a trip-ruiner!). Try making a game out of it, or implement a fun hand-washing song, to get your kids excited about washing their hands during your family adventure.

Step 3: Avoid Local Water – But Stay Hydrated

Water is a particularly tricky concern when traveling. You need to make sure that you and your kids stay properly hydrated – while avoiding risky water sources. Even if you’re not headed to a hot climate, you are likely to be more active during a trip, so you’ll need plenty of water to protect your system against germs and illness.

Contaminated drinking water is one of the leading sources of health problems for travelers – and it can cause anything from gastrointestinal stress (vomiting and diarrhea), to serious bacterial disease. In some cases, you and your kids may get sick simply because the pathogens in foreign water are different from what your immune system’s used to. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid tap water, and seek out bottled water instead. If bottled water isn’t an option, and you must use local water at some point, boil the water before drinking to kill off germs.

Step 4: Keep Up with Good Nutrition

Following a healthy, balanced diet at home often revolves around cooking your own meals – but when you’re on the road, proper nutrition can be challenging. You probably won’t have access to a kitchen, so it’s easy to turn to eating out for all of your meals. Just because you’re heading to a new restaurant, or stopping at a foreign convenience store, doesn’t mean you should ditch all hope of nutrition. Try to get plenty of fruit and vegetables into your children’s diet, and your own – and avoid any foods that seem suspicious.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow when traveling in a foreign place: if the food you’re considering isn’t baked, boiled, or peeled – don’t eat it. For instance, a refreshing salad may sound great in a tropical climate, but unwashed lettuce (or items washed in contaminated water) can make you sick. When choosing a place to eat, search for somewhere that’s packed with people. The more people, the more likely the food will be fresh – thanks to high customer turnover.

Step 5: Get Plenty of Rest

Remember that traveling can be stressful – even during a fun vacation – so make time for plenty of rest in between adventures. Schedule periods of relaxation (or rest breaks) into the day, so you’re not on the move constantly. These rest breaks also provide good opportunities to fuel up with some water and snacks, to keep yourself hydrated and healthy.

Do what you can to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep every day – just like you should at home. When you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be functioning at your best, and neither will your immune system. Though maintaining a perfect sleep schedule isn’t always possible, making an effort to stick close to your regular routine will help keep you, and your, children healthier.

Help Your Immune System While Traveling

When you travel, you become particularly susceptible to illness because you’re exposing your body to a range of new stresses, bugs, environments, and various germs. Combine a turbulent car, plane, or train journey with the naturally low immune system of children, and you open a wide range of new opportunities for disease and sickness. Your immune system works hard to keep your body healthy, but it can only do so much, especially in situations it isn’t accustomed to. Help your body out by giving yourself enough rest, water, and nutritious snacks; and take extra precautions to stay germ-free. The above tips, combined with destination-specific research and doctor recommendations, can help you to build up a defense against the common causes of illness during travel – so you and your whole family will stay healthy and happy during your vacation.

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Road Trip Games to Keep Your Kids Entertained

road trip games

If you’re a single dad, the thought of keeping your kids entertained during a long car journey, while maintaining enough focus so that you can stay safe on the road, might be terrifying. However, whether it’s a family vacation, or a trip to visit the grandparents, the chances are that you’re going to need to take a road trip at some point – even if you’d rather avoid it.

While you’re going through your checklist of must-have items, from luggage, and snacks, to beverages, and emergency car kits, don’t forget one of the most crucial considerations there is for travelling with kids: entertainment. Locking yourself in a car with bored children for several hours can be its very own form of torture, so you need to prepare if you want to avoid the headache-inducing chants of “Are we there yet?”

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of some of the most effective, and popular car games to keep your kids distracted while you keep your eyes on the road.

1. 20 Questions

A great way to avoid the “Are we there yet?” question, is to give your kids an excuse to ask something else. “20 questions” is a classic travel game that has stood the test of time for families across the world, and it’s simple enough that just about anyone can play it. If you want to add a special twist to the game, you could make a rule that the mineral, animal, or vegetable that your children are guessing about has to be related to your chosen destination. For instance, a trip to France could have you guessing frogs, or croissants. This is a great way to educate your children about the place you’re visiting, and get them excited for the trip.

2. “I’m Going on a Picnic”


Memory games are a great way to get your kids to work their brains when you’re on a long journey. However, if you have to focus on the road, make sure you let your kids know that they’re going to have to play together for a while when you feel you might not be able to join in. “I’m going on a picnic” is an alphabet based game that works like this: one child says “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing”, followed by an item beginning with A, like asparagus, or apples. From there, the other children follow on with an item beginning with B, C, D, and so on, while remembering to include the items the previous players mentioned too. The last player who can recite all the items on the list wins.

3. I Spy


This road trip game is a classic for a reason. Not only does it help to keep your children entertained while they look for interesting items in their surroundings, but it also improves their observational skills, which is ideal for younger kids. The idea is to find an object that everyone can see, then say “I Spy with my little eye, something that starts with…” then provide the first letter of that object’s name. You can also choose to offer a hint about what the object is, such as whether it’s a living creature, or a landmark. Everyone in the car takes turns guessing the object until someone gets it right.

4. The License Plate Game


License plates can form the foundation of dozens of road trip games, so how you choose to play with them will generally depend on the age of your children. For example, with older children, you can ask each person in the car to name a guess of how many different state license plates you’ll see on your journey, then get them to keep a tally as you drive. At the end of the trip, the person with the closest guess wins a prize. Alternatively, for younger children, you can use the alphabet game to point out license plates containing the letter A, all the way to Z, then at the end, start looking for doubles of letters, or numbers.

5. Scavenger Hunt


Finally, a scavenger hunt is a great way to keep your kids entertained while you focus on the road. While preparing for your journey, make a list of everything you think you might see along the way, including random objects, types of vehicle, road signs, and animals. Make a copy for each of your kids, and get them to call out when they see it. The first person to find everything on the list wins. You can even turn the list into a bingo card if you think that more opportunities to win will help your children stay engaged for longer.

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How to Balance Job Hunting and Parenting

single parenting

Managing a stable work-life balance is difficult for any parent, but as a single parent, it can sometimes feel impossible. Single parenting is an ongoing challenge, as it essentially means you work two full time jobs – one in the office, and one at home. Between working your current job, taking care of your family, and attempting to have a social life, it may feel like there’s not enough of you to go around. The juggling act only gets more complex if you add a job hunt.

Job hunting is a daunting task in itself – if you are currently working, carving out the extra time in your schedule can feel exhausting. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to totally burn you out. With these steps, you can streamline the process of job hunting into something that is both manageable and productive; and still have time to change diapers and read bedtime stories.

Take Care of Yourself

As a parent, you’re at your best when you’re not only taking care of your children, but also yourself. All parents know that it’s a challenge to fit in a bit of “me time,” but it’s important to make this one of your priorities. As part of your job hunt, factor in time to meet your basic human needs – like sleeping and eating well. Recent studies show that when parents don’t get enough sleep at night, it not only affects their own health, but may affect their child’s health, as well. Though it’s tempting to enjoy the quiet still of night time after the children have gone to bed, keep in mind that you need your sleep, too. It’s recommended that adults aged 26-64 sleep an average of 7-9 hours, clocking in at no less than 6 hours. In order to tackle your next day, you’ll want to wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

Sleep isn’t all you need to be at your best – your body also needs substantial fuel, and that means making smart choices when it comes to food. Though it may be tempting to order a pizza and call it a night, focus instead on saving money and calories by stocking up at the grocery store. Consider cooking with your kids, for some special bonding time. Meal prepping for the week ahead on Saturdays or Sundays is a popular time-saving trend for many parents. By focusing on your health and wellness, you can ensure that you’re functioning at your full potential, and set a strong example for your kids to follow.

Routine is Key

Creating a routine that works for you is integral to the process of finding a job. When you create a routine that you can stick to and manage – and easily modify when needed – you create healthy habits for yourself. Waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth rarely feels like a chore, given how deeply it’s ingrained into your morning schedule. Think about job hunting in the same way. Set aside a specific amount of time – whether it’s each day, every other day, or every few days – that’s dedicated to your goal. Instead of reading the news every morning while you drink your coffee, perhaps you can spend that time seeking out new career opportunities. When you have time during the day or after work, you can follow through with your application.

If you have your kids with you after work, look for opportunities to job hunt while they’re occupied. If your children have nightly homework, try viewing job hunting as your own version of homework, and work on them at the same time. Perhaps your child’s one-hour soccer practice after school provides the perfect time for you to send applications. Or, after the kids have gone to sleep, take an hour for yourself to job search. Do what you need to get comfortable – whether that’s listening to relaxing music or a funny podcast, or even just moving to a different room. You’ll want to be relaxed, but focused – this is precious time you’ve carved out for yourself, so make it count.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help  

Leaning on friends and family while job hunting – especially as a single parent – is understandable; in fact, it’s encouraged. Consider reaching out to someone you’re close with, to help look after the kids for a few hours, so you can get caught up or polish your resume. Think about hiring a sitter, or setting up a play-date for the kids, so you can take the time you need to focus. Perhaps look for a part-time house cleaner, or ask a family member to help take a few daily chores off your plate. Remember that job hunting is a temporary state; sure, it can take a while to land the right position, but you won’t be in this search mode forever. The job search requires extra focus and effort from your end, so it makes sense to seek temporary help in managing your responsibilities. There’s no shame in asking for help, or admitting when you’re stretched a bit too thin. Getting by with a little help from your friends is not a weakness – it’s a strength.  

Much of job hunting comes down to exercising strong time management skills, and maintaining a healthy balance between your self-care, your family’s care, and your career goals. By following these steps, you’re well on your way to setting yourself up for job hunt success. What advice do you have for single parents on the job hunt? Share your tips in the comments below!

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Dealing With Stress at Work during a Divorce

divorce stress

Going through the divorce process can put stress on multiple areas in a man’s life – but you wouldn’t always assume your work life would be affected, too. After all, keeping the personal and the professional separate is what we’ve always been told to do. But if the divorce is one that looks to drag out for a long time, then it’s understandable that stress can bleed over into one’s work life as well. Unfortunately, being mentally preoccupied and emotionally exhausted can have a detrimental effect on your professional tasks. Here are a few ways you can deal with divorce stress while working at the same time.

To Discuss or Not to Discuss

The first thing to determine is whether or not you wish to tell your colleagues or your boss about your divorce. The idea behind this is not to use it as an excuse to wave off any strange behavior or lack of focus, but rather to seek understanding and flexibility as you go through the process. Many managers and coworkers can be supportive and sympathetic, and some workplaces even offer free counseling services.

Depending on your comfort level and need for privacy, you might not want to mention it to anyone in your workplace, and that’s acceptable as well.  You can’t assume that anything you say to anyone at work will remain a secret – keep in mind that anything you say to a coworker will likely be shared with others. If it’s looking like the courts may be involved with your divorce, you may want to consider keeping information to yourself, lest it be used against you in legal filings.

Keep Things Stable

Another good practice is to maintain stability in your working life. With so much upheaval happening when you’re off the clock, you’re going to want to have a place of normalcy and routine that you can come to, in order to take your mind off the divorce. Also, the feeling of productivity and accomplishment can help if you’re feeling down on yourself in the wake of the separation.

You might not initially consider how your divorce might affect your attention span at work, but it can cause a lack of focus, which can potentially have a long-term impact. Instead, know when to step away and give yourself a moment of composure in order to refocus on the task at hand. Having a regular routine to follow in the workplace — or simply setting an agenda every day and sticking to it — can help as well.

Give Yourself Time

It’s not healthy to simply bottle up all your emotions surrounding your divorce and move on as if nothing is happening; rather, you need to allow yourself to go through the entire spectrum of feelings you might be having about the end of your marriage.

So, although it’s smart to focus on your job, you don’t need to put yourself in a place of denial as soon as you step into the workplace. Instead, allow yourself to take a mental break whenever you need one. As mentioned earlier, see if your workplace offers free counseling, or if you have the option to work from home or take a “health day.” Know that what you’re going through isn’t unusual, and that you shouldn’t feel ashamed to be upset about your divorce, even if you’re at work. If the stress becomes unbearable to the point where it’s interfering with your job, that’s when you ought to step back and look for your support options. Battling divorce stress might be a struggle, but it can be beaten, and you don’t have to go it alone if you don’t want to.

Have you ever dealt with personal stress interfering with your work? What were some of your coping methods? Let us know in the comments.

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Post-Divorce: How Long to Wait Until You Date

Navigating the waters following a divorce can be challenging. Not only are you more emotionally vulnerable, but those who were close to the relationship are also likely feeling the effects of what happened.

dating

There comes a point when you may ask yourself the question: am I ready to date again?There is no right answer to this question, and the time period following a divorce will be different for everyone. Still, there is a certain period that should be respected in the days and months following the end of a relationship. This is for a number of reasons, not the least of which is ensuring you, your former spouse, and your family members have the time and space to accept the aftermath of the divorce.

The Two Year Rule

Experts and divorcees agree that two years seems to be the magic number when it comes to the amount of time needed post break-up. Going through a divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience, and one that can cause people to re-examine key elements of their life. Mix that self-reflection with what experts say is often a period of depression, anxiousness, and an inability to focus, and you have a time that is best left for personal self-development and discovery.

Taking time is valuable, and starting a relationship when youre not ready could postpone the grieving and emotional soul searching you should have done in the days following a divorce. Be clear with any matchmaking friends that you want to take some time to think. Accept that it may take a while before you feel like yourself again, and recognize that is okay.

No Ill Will towards Your Ex

Its inevitable to think about your former spouse in the period following your divorce. Whether these are thoughts of anger, regret, longing, or sadness, theyre all emotions that make you remember and perceive that person in one way or another. If youre still fuming at your ex, youre probably not ready to move on. If youre still missing your ex, youre probably not ready to move on. It is important to work through the complex emotions you associate with your former spouse. If you begin to date too soon, you may carry old resentments or habits into your new relationship. That wont do you or your new partner any favors.

Feeling neutral about your former spouse does not mean you have to accept them back into your life. It does, however, mean you should be at a state where you could see them in public and feel relatively unaffected by the encounter. You should also be able to interact with a prospective partner without thinking constantly of your former partner.

Figure Out What You Want

Marriages end for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you and your spouse werent providing one another with what the other person wanted and needed. Before you move on and start dating, figure out what exactly it is youre looking for. Perhaps you want someone patient and insightful who will support you as you start a new career. Or maybe you want a person who is adventurous and shares your love of the outdoors. These characteristics and qualities can have some similarities with your former partner, but make an effort to identify what made you unhappy with your last relationship and adjust your expectations and desires accordingly.

Ultimately, you will be the only one who can tell if youre ready to date again. Recognize your post-divorce period for what it is: an opportunity to take time for yourself to reflect on that former relationship and what you want for the next one.

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What to Do When Your Kids Dislike a New Partner

new partner

There’s a long adjustment period after a divorce, especially if there are children involved. Though you may feel like you’re ready to start dating, not everyone may be on the same page. When your children meet your new love, they might not like each other as much as you had hoped. To prevent this from happening, it helps to think about what your children are experiencing and to approach this major life change carefully.

Why Your Children Might Have Trouble

If your children seem to have trouble accepting a new relationship, keep in mind their feelings may have little to nothing to do with the specific partner. After a divorce or breakup, children face a major shift in their daily lives. Even if the split is beneficial, children still need time to adjust and grieve the loss of what they had before. The children miss having both parents around, and adding a new person adds another level of change into their world. Children can also feel concerned about loyalty between parents and new partners, which adds to discomfort and difficulties, and children can see you finding a new partner as a sure sign you won’t be getting back together with your ex. This realization can bring up the same feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger they had when the split was fresh.

Easing the Relationships

One of the most important things to remember is to avoid forcing relationships too quickly. By introducing your new partner too soon, you run the risk of giving your children a new family configuration to cope with before they have accepted the current situation. Introducing your partner too soon can also create a risk of your children attaching to the new person, which can create more issues in the event of a breakup.

Before introducing your new partner to your children, talk about the partner and describe them to your children. If your children have some idea of who this person is, they’ll feel more prepared for this life change. It’s also a good idea to make sure the relationship between you and the new partner is strong. Waiting to introduce them also allows you time to get to know the partner through different situations before you make any commitments.

When your children and partner are getting to know one another, be sure to keep the process light and casual. Introducing each other at a group barbeque can be a more relaxed environment than a weekend camping trip. Consider attending events at a neutral location, such as a park, instead of at either partner’s home. If your partner also has children, they need to be introduced to your children in another gradual process instead of overwhelming your children with new people.

Be sure to talk with your children about how they feel about new developments. This is a major event, so you will need a few conversations to really process how you and your children can make a happy household. Be careful of interrupting your children or dismissing their feelings —using active listening shows your children that you care about their needs and will help them feel less threatened by a new person in your life. Depending on your children’s ages, they might be more likely to open up during a walk or another activity. Some children might have a hard time opening up, but can show feelings by acting out, withdrawing, slipping in grades, and regressing to past behaviors such as thumb-sucking. Be sure to check in with them to make sure they can identify feelings and that they feel safe when experiencing these feelings. You can also support your children by making sure they still have one-on-one time with you.

As you readjust, don’t be afraid to seek help from others. As you work with your ex to raise your children, make sure you both work to maintain a consistent structure and set of rules between homes. You might also benefit from gaining help and guidance from family and friends. Support systems, from friends to formal support groups, can benefit you and your children as they readjust to new family structures.

Key Ideas to Remember

The main idea to remember is to keep your children’s needs in mind as you find a new partner in your life. You are also a role model for your children as to how they should handle relationships, so kindness and calmness are beneficial for everyone involved. Taking your time to introduce your partner and your children will keep all relationships stronger. Finally, keeping your approach centered on your children’s needs will help them feel cared for, safe, and loved.

Have you ever had to introduce children to a new partner? What if you were the new partner? Are there things you wish you could have done differently?

 

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Dating after Divorce: The Top 3 Life-Limiting Misconceptions

dating after divorce

No matter how many times divorcees swear they’ll never re-marry, the draw to find a life partner often proves irresistible.

Look at poor Mogli from The Jungle Book. He’s having a great old time out there with Baloo the Bear, but responsible Bagiera leads him toward the Man Village where a lovely girl gathering water turns his eyes into rainbow-colored, pulsating saucers. Psychologists attribute The Jungle Book’s popularity and timelessness to a universal human truth: most singles long for a mate.

It’s understandable to be nervous about looking for a new partner after a divorce, but chances are, you’re ready. If you’ve done some reading and even some therapy to gain self-awareness, by all means start dating up a storm!  

Whether you decide the time is right for you to date again or not, at least know that many misconceptions about dating after divorce can keep divorced fathers on the sidelines for too long. Let the carefully researched information here sink in, but definitely keep exploring and weighing your options.

Dating After Divorce Misconception #1: “Getting Back Out There” Is Torture

This isn’t so much of a misconception as a hurdle. Most admit that meeting a complete stranger for the serious task of finding a life-partner search starts up the jitters more than public speaking. A big part of the nerve attack stems from feeling completely out of practice and that you’re the only dork in the whole wide world doing it. We have two balms for these anxieties: freshen up your dating etiquette, but more important, immerse yourself in others’ dating after divorce experiences. Getting your bearings with what’s going on with the blind, online dating scene helps you know what to expect. More, laughing at others’ humiliations takes some of the sting out of your self-consciousness.

Start by reading up on what typically happens on a first date on Huffington Post’s Dating Section. There, all secrets are bared including, “My Tinder Adventures at 60,” and “OMG! I’m Dating My Dad!” The dozens of other dating publications include, High50 (for those 50 and over), Evan Marc Katz and Kiss and Blog. Even the New York Times has a Modern Love section which covers dating, although it’s tucked in the Style section.

Consider each post not only comic relief, but inoculation against your terror. The more varieties of experiences you read about, the more prepared you are to tackle the unknown. Also, these posts reveal how human and mistake-prone every dater is. As in any truly meaningful venture, doing initial research, having some mentors and understanding that you’re not alone sets you up for success!

Dating After Divorce Misconception #2: No Good Ones Left  

Holding onto perceptions like, “there are no good ones left,” and/or “all the good ones are taken” provide the perfect hall pass for avoiding dating. Well, maybe you need to avoid dating right now and these opinions help you stick to your convictions. That’s fine! Hold them as close as you want for as long as you want. Taking 10 years or even the rest of your life away from dating is perfectly acceptable, even commendable in some situations.

If you want to know the facts about who’s left, however, read on.

The average, single American out there isn’t so bad. According to a US Census report created in 2015 from data gathered from 2008 to 2012, around 15 million divorced, currently single, 40- to 57-year-olds live in America. Also, 30 million single Americans who never married are still out there. The stories, life experiences and personalities of these 45 million are as varied as their bathroom cabinets.

Dating Misconception #3:  Finding Love “Organically” Leads to Better Love than Can be Found Through Deliberate Online Dating and Activity Attendance

How many of your single friends will tell you that they’re not on the online dating sites or going to activities or MeetUp groups because they’re just waiting for “true love” to find them “organically?”

Could online dating options and singles activities be the solution you need? Every one of us knows at least a few who used online dating to find their second long term relationship, even marriage. A study from the National Academy of Scientists found that one in three marriages developed just from online dating. You won’t be finding your next life-partner staying home every night hugging your television. Finding a suitable mate “organically” or by chance is as likely as finding a suitable job just by chance. We think you should go out and intentionally get both. Deliberate effort or “intention” creates destiny more than waiting and hoping.

The National Academy of Scientists researchers also found that those in marriages that began with an online dating site reported significantly higher satisfaction rates than those who met in bars or through friends. Skeptical? They surveyed 19,131 people, about ten times more people than most scientific studies ever attempt.

Father’s Rights Law Center has tackled everything from the amicable split to child custody to domestic violence and sexual abuse allegations. Read our past blog posts and testimonials about our work  to witness our dedication to helping fathers through every aspect of child custody and divorce. Our complimentary consultation can clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today.

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Introducing Kids to Your New Partner: Guidelines to Consider

Psychologists peg divorce as one of the worst experiences humans endure, but those in the middle of a split cling to one potential future reward: the prospect of finding someone who will make them happy. Hope acts as a balm, soothing the pain of the breakup. The much improved, new relationship can appear golden from afar. While many do find love, it doesn’t happen magically. Creating relationships takes intention, education and effort. It all starts with new love.

new partner

Most parents have heard the rumors about how delicate introducing a new partner to children can be. Use the guidelines below to ensure that introducing children to a partner becomes a positive experience that puts the new relationship on the right track from the beginning.

Choose the Right Time

When a viable, new romantic interest does come into the divorced person’s life, the excitement is palpable, and hard to hide from children and other family members.

Soon enough, children ask where a parent is going and with whom. The parent immediately has a dilemma. Introducing a new partner at the beginning stages of a relationship can reveal how well he or she fits with the family. On the other hand, many divorced parents and child psychologists warn that six months is the minimum to wait. No one wants to have a revolving door of partners.

There is no right time to make the introduction. If children are teenagers and the divorce occurred five years or more before, doing the introduction early can make more sense. The parent needs to gauge how the new partner will fit with the children before too much time goes by. More, teens tend to be absorbed in their own lives, putting more energy and time into relationships with friends than parents. They are looking toward their own future romantic relationships and jobs. Introducing the new partner in this situation should go relatively smoothly, given you follow the other guidelines in this post.

While the above may seem like good news, many parents split before their children are out of middle school. Children aged fourteen and younger still depend significantly on parents for building their identities and understanding the world around them. Read our post about parental alienation to get a better idea of how much children need from their fathers (hint: a great deal). The time they require cannot be short-changed. Therefore, dating with children in this age bracket is best conducted when the children visit their mother. This approach makes the most sense particularly for fathers with less than 50% custody. Experts emphasize that parents of younger children should wait at least six months to one year and have a clear idea of a stable future with the new partner before considering a meeting.

No matter the age of the children, the newly divorced must take extra precautions with their dating lives. Post-split, children and teens both have significant emotional, psychological and intellectual work to carry out to come to terms with the idea that the former family no longer exists. They must grasp the idea of their father as a single person. Do not introduce children to a new partner until it’s clear everyone is emotionally stable and you’re functioning smoothly in the new family structure.

Introducing a partner to children too early could result in:

  • The children viewing the new partner suspiciously.

  • Children’s jealousy of the new partner leading to acting out.

  • Chaos in the household.

  • Poor connection between new partner and children leading to serious psychological and emotional damage to the children.

  • Conflict with ex-spouse, which reverberates to the children.

Despite your excitement over your new relationship, remember that the long-term well-being of your children depends greatly on the choices you make during their formative years.  

The Introduction Step by Step

Once you’re confident it’s the right time to introduce your new partner to your children, following these guidelines should help the event go smoothly.

  1. The Preparation:  hopefully, you’ve been sharing stories about your adventures with your significant other with your children and even asking their opinion. Preparing them in this manner can go a long way in building curiosity and anticipation, two positive emotions surrounding the individual. Make clear to your children and your partner that you expect them all to treat each other respectfully. Give examples of what could happen and how each could respond.

  1. The Meeting:  a low-key, active event that you all enjoy together can be more comfortable than a sit-down dinner where individuals get grilled as much as the steak and veggies. Consider a hike, a concert, fishing, or an afternoon at the beach or a lake. Come up with three alternatives beforehand and share them with the children, asking for input. Consider a short time span: a morning or an afternoon. Also, keep the expense reasonable. During the event, keep public displays of affection to a minimum. Gradually accustom your children to that aspect of the relationship rather than make it too obvious.

  1. After the Event:  with your new partner safely on her way home, sit down with the kids to debrief. Ask them their impressions first using open-ended questions. “What did you think?” works. Listen carefully and even mirror back what they’re saying. “So you didn’t like the way she insisted on paying?” Feel free to laugh together about any awkward moments. Do not try to talk them into liking her. Reassure them that you will have plenty of time alone with them, even though you are now in a relationship.

 

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The Science of Fatherhood

Parents in general play a major role in a child’s development, but recent studies and reviews show that a father’s participation has a major impact on a child’s behavior; specifically their self-esteem and overall psychological adjustment within society.

fatherhood

Despite decades of assumptions to the contrary, a father’s role can be incredibly influential in their child’s development.  In fact, a review of 24 of the best studies of father involvement performed by

Researchers at Uppsala University presented some very persuasive findings. They found that there were a multitude of social and psychological benefits resulting from a father’s engagement with his children. Those children who had fathers that played with them, read to them, and interacted frequently with them had fewer behavioral problems in their early education along with less delinquency and criminal behavior as adolescents. In addition, among the prematurely born, children whose fathers cared for them had higher IQs.

Studies also show that fathers may play a significant role in their children’s ability to persevere. According to a study performed at Brigham Young University, researchers found that fathers who exhibit above-average levels of authoritative parenting tend to rear children that are much more likely to be persistent. This manner of authoritative parenting is characterized by a warm, loving demeanor with strict adherence to the rules backed by appropriate support and freedom. As a result, the child’s increase in persistence leads to better school engagement and less delinquency.

There have been a great many studies conducted that focus on the benefit of a father’s involvement in the rearing of their children, resulting in a large amount of literature on the subject. In a compilation of research evidence on the effects of father involvement, researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario found the following supporting evidence for children of involved fathers:

  • They are higher academic achievers.

  • They are more competent problem solvers.

  • They are more adaptive and resourceful.

  • They are more playful and skillful.

  • They have a higher level of self-acceptance in addition to personal and social adjustment.

  • They are more attentive when presented a problem.

  • They are likely to score higher on standardized tests.

  • They are more likely to enjoy and engage in school and extracurricular activities.

  • They are more likely to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement.

  • They experience higher levels of life satisfaction.

  • They are more stress and crisis tolerant, and exhibit better self-control.

  • As young adults they are more likely to exhibit higher self-acceptance.

  • They have more positive peer relations and greater popularity.

  • They are more likely to have positive interactions with their siblings.

  • They are more likely to exhibit tolerant and empathetic behavior.

  • They are more likely to be morally mature.

In contrast, children without engaged and invested fathers experience fewer of these benefits, leading to more antisocial and delinquent behavior, less empathy, lower life satisfaction, decreased perseverance, lower academic achievement, and a greater chance of depression and substance abuse, to name a few.  

Enough data has been gathered to make the compelling argument that society and the government at large should begin to place an increased emphasis on the positive impact that a father’s presence has in the successful rearing of a child. It is clearly evident that father engagement has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development as well as their social and emotional well-being.

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The Best Books about Being a Dad

Being a parent is perhaps one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges a person will ever face. After all, as a parent you become responsible for the safety, development, and happiness of another person. So where can you turn when you need some extra guidance? Parenting books could be the answer.

dad books

More fathers than ever have begun to write books about the parental journey, opening up a new range of insight for dads looking for guidance. Whether you’re searching for a book written to help you make the transition from man to father, or looking for a piece that will help you to better understand your role and your children’s behaviors, the following list should help.

Books for New Dads

Becoming a father means accepting a new role in your life that you may feel completely unprepared for – even if you’re the world’s most excited father-to-be.

1. The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-be (Armin A. Brott and Jenifer Ash)

Written for the modern father, this guide to everything “Dad” provides a wealth of information designed to prepare you for pregnancy, caring for a baby, and managing those first crucial years of parenthood. It even offers a number of tips for men considering life as a stay-at-home dad. Similar to any “what-to-expect” set of tips, the book includes a number of ways in which fathers can support their partners during parenthood. However, it also helps father’s discover their own role in a strange new world.

2. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden)

Supplementing your education on the route to becoming a father doesn’t have to be all work and no play. There are plenty of fatherhood books out there that approach the issue from a more humorous angle. For instance “Be Prepared” covers everything from how to make your baby laugh, to how to choose a new stroller. Packed with charming illustrations, this step-by-step guide also teaches dads how to baby proof the house, and change an emergency diaper at a sports game.

Books for Dads with Toddlers

Once the baby years are over, dads may need help on dealing with a whole new range of behaviors and concepts. During the toddler years, children are much more mobile, and they’re capable of causing more trouble. At the same time, they’re learning to speak, bond, and discover more about the world around them.

1. Dads, Toddlers, and the Chicken Dance (Peter Downey)

A helpful and humorous book designed to describe the realities of raising a toddler, Downey’s book is an informative, and refreshingly hilarious option for fathers who want the tips, without the serious edge. This book offers everything from information about speech development, to common illnesses, nutrition, and toilet-training. However, it may not appeal to the more sensitive readers out there.

2. Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler: A Zen Guide for New Dads (C.W. Nevius)

A book all about helping fathers discover the patience required to raise an excitable toddler, Crouching Father offers an array of short essays that cover common worries from a humorous angle, such as “What is the sound of one child napping”.

Books for Dads with School-Age Children

The elementary age, pre-teen, and teenage years provide a new selection of worries and anxieties to deal with. Not only are fathers responsible for teaching kids necessary skills and, keeping them away from bad habits, but they also have the task of instilling them with important values.

1. But I’m Almost 13! : Raising a Responsible Adolescent (Kenneth R. Ginsburg and Martha M. Jablow)

Don’t be fooled by the light-hearted title, this book is full of tips and tricks to help keep your growing child away from the risks of youth, from emotional problems like depression and anxiety, to reckless behavior like drug use and the results peer pressure. It provides advice on nourishing your child’s independence, while making them aware of the problems and consequences they could face.

2. Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: Loving Your Kid without Losing Your Mind (Michael J. Bradley)

Written by a psychologist drawing on research into the teenage brain, this book argues that the average teenager is basically insane, showing plenty of dysfunctional, unstable, and unpredictable behavior. Fortunately, the book also delivers plenty of information on how to encourage and guide your children through these difficult years as a father, and a friend.

Books for Dads with Kids Who’ve Left the Nest

It’s not just mothers that suffer from empty nest syndrome – but fathers too. The following books help dads overcome the emotional issues that can set in after a child vacates the family household.

1. The Empty Nest: How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child (Celia Dodd)

Written from an optimistic and realistic point of view, this book covers all of the issues a father might experience when living in a child-free home. It reminds readers that children continue to need their parents after they leave the nest, just as parents continue to need the love of their children.

2. Fun without Dick and Jane (Christie Mellor)

Dedicated to parents with a sense of humor, this light-hearted book offers creative insight into how to rediscover yourself as an individual after your children leave home. It could be the perfect solution for the father whose identity has become all about his kids.

What are some of your favorite books about being a dad? Share with us in the comments!

 

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