These days, we’re seeing more and more joint custody situations, and with studies showing that it’s better for the children’s mental health, that’s a good thing.
Of course, interacting with your ex can be stressful to say the least, but, as this quote from an About.com Fatherhood guide on the topic explains, you have to put the kids first:
Put the kids first. I know of no more important attitude for a father with joint custody than putting the needs of their children first. There will be times you and your kids’ mom need to compromise in order to make this happen. While, for example, you agree to have piano lessons on “her days,” there will be times the lessons have to be moved to “your days.” Understand and accept the realities of parenting and be flexible. Make sure that the needs of your children are more important to you than your convenience and schedule.
Make sure that you don’t just take the “Disneyland Dad” approach that many moms complain about. That is, making sure the kids only have fun when they are with you and leave the hard parenting to their moms. Take an active role as a parent. Do homework with them. Volunteer to help with their science fair project. Be their cub scout den leader or help the girls earn girl scout badges. Make sure you are keeping their needs first.
Is it difficult, especially when the wounds of divorce may still be fresh? No question. In order to be the best father you can be, though, you have to put the kids first.