As a newly divorced dad, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of things you never expected to do. Packing school lunches, styling your daughter’s hair, scheduling parent-teacher conferences (and wondering whether it’s wise to attend at the same time as your ex).
When my wife and I divorced, our co-parenting relationship was fairly contentious. People are people, and we all have different philosophies. But I will say that for me, navigating the barrage of escalating issues—who owed money to whom, whose day it was with the kids, who said what when—got really hard.
As a co-parent in divorce, the stakes are high. You could face major repercussions for not tracking the right information. In turn, this could alter the course of your life and your children’s lives.
For the first few years after our divorce, I worried excessively. I worried about tracking receipts, keeping daily logs, and tracking pick-up and drop-off times … all to be accused (on more than one occasion) of making them up. I was so focused on tracking everything, all the time, that I wasn’t fully present for my kids.
Developing and using Fayr
Today, my ex and I use Fayr. It’s a co-parenting app I developed primarily as a result of not being able to find any kind of tool to help me manage the sheer amount of recordkeeping that had overtaken my life.
Fayr is an all-in-one tool that lets you record receipts, keep permanent records of message exchanges, use geographical check-ins to track your location, manage a shared calendar, and more.
These days, fewer misunderstandings and disagreements occur between my ex and me. The result: a much longer cease-fire than before. Things are clearer for both of us now. The app has helped our overall quality of life, and my kids now live with a much better version of me.
Along the way, I realized a few things that I think might be useful to you if you’re a newly divorced dad starting a new co-parenting relationship.
Be present. You’ll never get these years back.
I wish I hadn’t spent so much time in such an anxious state of mind after my divorce.
I can’t get back the years that I wasn’t emotionally present for my kids. I regret that. Especially in their younger years, I wish I had shown more patience and stressed less.
I’m glad I was able to create a solution for tracking receipts and logs and proving things like picking my kids up at the time I said I would. I hope Fayr can help you in that way, too.
You might be tempted to go on a spending spree. Don’t.
When you become single, perhaps for the first time in a long time, it’s an opportunity to focus just on yourself.
It’s okay to take this time to work on areas of your life you’ve been wanting to focus on. Self-care is important. Finally committing to a new workout routine, looking inward and practicing meditation, taking a new class, or scheduling a regular golf game with the guys—that’s all great.
I sometimes see newly single dads feel the need to spend extra money on things they’d never thought of previously. A new sports car. Even plastic surgery.
But many times in divorce, you are going from a two-income household to a single-income household. It’s important to remain financially responsible as you transition to this next chapter of life and fatherhood. So, make sure to keep those “me” opportunities in check.
No success in life will ever compensate for failing as a parent. You only get one shot at this. Do it right. Your kids matter more than a flashy car.
Be the best co-parent you can be, even if your ex doesn’t deserve it.
Kids are very astute when it comes to verbal and non-verbal communication cues. Even children as young as two or three can tell when parents are in conflict.
Silence speaks volumes, too. If you never mention your ex, your children may feel they can’t openly speak to you about how they spend half or more of their lives. They may withhold information, and this could cause an irreparable rift in later years.
Make a point to say kind things about your ex. Even if it’s just a small offhand remark. Your kids will understand that your home is a safe place for them to discuss their full lives. It can be something simple like, “Oh, your dad loves this show!” or “Your mom has always had such a great sense of humor.” These statements also validate your kids themselves, as they see part of their own personalities in each of their parents.
And remember: Your kids are always watching. And learning. Your words and actions will help them learn how to respect other people—even those they may not like or agree with.
It’s worth the work
Finally, I want to share this: Your co-parenting relationship will evolve over time.
It’s hard work. It might always be hard work.
But if you stay focused on being the best dad you can be and on keeping your relationship with your ex as civil and respectful as possible, you’ll find a rhythm. You’ll figure it out.
And one day, when you look at the amazing human beings your children have become, you’ll know that all that hard work was so worth it.