Despite what you’ve heard, being a great dad, a Phenomenal Dad, isn’t something you come pre-wired with. You don’t enter a marriage or create a family with the tools you’ll need to successfully raise children.
No, when it comes to fatherhood, your gut is worse than useless. You’ll need training. Someone needs to sit you down and tell you in plain English what your job as a male parental unit entails. Without that, without advice, guidance, and support, most dads give up. They walk away.
And while it might feel like the right thing to do post-divorce, walking away from your kids is the worst thing you can ever do! No matter how bad it is or how your ex is isolating you from them, creating space between you and them won’t make anything better. You’ll only be making their lives worse.
Fighting for My Daughter
You’ve already read my story. If you haven’t, give it a read. And while reading it might give you insight into how and why I developed my theory, what you don’t know is that I spent nine long years tracking down my daughter after she was taken by her father. Finding her was all at once the most exhilarating and most upsetting moment of my life.
The time I’d lost with her hurt. I’d missed out on so many important moments in her life. And I knew that no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did or bought her, I’d never get that time with my then-11-year-old back. Her dad succeeded in erasing me completely from her world.
Five years later, we’re close. But there still lies an indescribable rift, a void between us. For all that I know about her, and she me, we don’t really know each other. She suffered in my absence. As I was hard at work trying like hell to track down a lead, an address, a rumor, anything to bring me closer to my baby, my daughter was being abused.
Still think your kids will be fine without you around?
This is for every divorced dad and mom, or soon-to-be divorced dad and mom
Starting on the very first page of this book, Cruz Santana loads you up on the simple yet vital things you as a divorced dad can be doing to affirm you child and keep them close through and beyond this difficult time.
The wisdom in the advice in this book is something I wish I’d had decades ago with my own children who, due to my own ignorance, now want nothing to do with me.
– Allan Seabrook
How to Be a Phenomenal Dad
I wrote Phenomenal Dad: Ten Lessons on Single Fatherhood from a Tougher-Than-Nails Single Mom in hopes of reaching out to divorced dads. I want to pull them closer to their kids than they’ve ever been before. It’s my belief that dads can be better as single fathers than they were as married guys.
My process isn’t easy. But it shouldn’t be. Being a parent is the hardest, most emotionally and physically taxing part of my life. When you’re doing it right it always is. That’s how you know. That’s the metric you should use. If you’re not feeling like you’ve spent every possible resource, drop of blood, and ounce of sweat, you’re not giving enough.
Here are three simple tips to get you started:
1. Show up for your kids.
Be there. No, not back in the house. Especially not if you and your ex-wife haven’t yet cooled down. But be as close as you possibly can.
Does your soccer-playing-kid have a meet at a school across town? Get there. How ever you can, get there. Phenomenal dads make every effort, negotiate for time off with the boss, move every mountain to show up. Kids only care that you’re there to celebrate their wins and lend comfort when they lose the big game by one stupid point. So, be there.
Do you think buying your little ones fancy sneakers, iThings, and all the other crap they want will bring them closer to you? It might for a while.
You see, kids’ attention spans are fleeting. No sooner have you paid off the credit card bill for their junk than they’ve already forgotten how close you were the day you handed them the gizmo-filled box.
2. Video chat often.
I mean like every day, if you can. Take advantage of tech! Why not? You probably paid a fortune for it. So, use it to bridge the way to your little ones. No matter how old they are they’ll appreciate that you took the time to Skype or FaceTime with them.
Bring them into your world. Show them your surroundings. It’s especially useful when you’re traveling. It will mean more to them that you remembered to show them the view from the Empire State Building than buying them that blasted gizmo in the first place.
3. Use technology to fight for your children.
Feel like your ex is pulling you away from your kids? Been there. So, get sneaky and fight for them.
Start by documenting every conversation you and your ex have. You can easily do this by using email. Using email is by far your best bet. While your phone (and various messaging services) can prove that the message was delivered and that it was read, your email serves as legal proof of any agreements you make.
Go a step further and prove that she opened your messages by using Sidekick by Hubspot. It’s a free app that’s easy to use and works with your Gmail account. It will notify you when and if your emails have been opened and by whom! And best of all? It’s free!
If you ever need to prove she’s ignoring your requests to gain access to your kids, simply print off Sidekick’s report and submit it as evidence along with your email correspondence!
A wonderful resource for any parent or guardian
Clear-cut, detailed, commonsensical instructions for bettering one’s parenthood game. Despite the title, there’s something in this for every father, every mother, every aunt or uncle, even.
This book is well laid out and organised into sensible sections, with practical activities given at the end of each section. I particularly like that; not only were there some very useful things suggested, but the very structure of it seems designed to prevent the way that so many people will race through self-help books, skim-reading and not really gaining anything. The activities slow the reader down and cause him to think about what he has just read.
A terrific resource for any parent or guardian, not just the single or non-custodial father.
– T. Ormiston-Smith
Remaining in your child’s line of sight is your job! It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are or how far she moved your kid. Mine crossed the country! Nothing should stop you from having the best possible relationship with you kid.
Plan on being there for major events. Set up email reminders if you have to, but show up! Connect with your little ones if you’re away. Use video chat to make it happen. And let tech work for you. Keep your correspondence with your ex limited to email. Text for the small stuff here and there (like to tell her you’re on the way over to pick up your minions), but use email exclusively to set up the date and time to pick them up. This way, you’ll have a record of your intent.
If any of this sounds too hard or requires more effort than you’re willing to put in, start small. Reach out slowly. Your relationship may suffer for it, but at least you’ll be around. Kids need validation. So be their sounding board, they’re champion. Listen, dads have it rough. But a Phenomenal Dad says, “Bring it on!”
Phenomenal Dad: Ten Lessons on Single Fatherhood from a Tougher-Than-Nails Single Mom is Cruz Santana’s first published book. It’s available wherever ebooks are sold.
Get it on Amazon today for $4.99. It’s time to let go of who you were. Stand up and be the Phenomenal Dad your kids need you to be!