Experts say that a lot of men make common mistakes after a divorce that can make life even more difficult. So, here are the top moves to avoid:
- Dating too soon. Dr. Sam Buser wrote The Guys-Only Guide to Getting Over Divorce. And he says that men are more likely than women to rush into a new relationship, often because they’re feeling lonely, vulnerable and sad. But moving on too soon rarely works out. His advice? Wait at least a year before dating. And wait two years before you even consider getting remarried.
- Becoming a hermit. This is especially common if the ex gets custody of the kids. But that can worsen feelings of depression, guilt and loneliness. And that’s a dangerous combination, because divorced men are twice as likely to commit suicide as married men. Divorced men are also more prone to alcohol problems. Your best bet: Find an activity that requires some kind of commitment, like joining a softball team or professional group.
- Fighting with your ex – especially in front of the kids. You may be seen as the bad guy – or worse, your kids may model your behavior. Arizona State psychologist Dr. Sanford Braver says you need to treat your ex with respect, even if it isn’t returned. Because when you criticize your ex-wife, your kids will feel you’re criticizing them for loving her.
- Following different rules. It’s really important for divorced dads to make sure their kids have the same rules – whether they're at home or with you. If bedtime is 9 o'clock at home, it's the same at your house.
- Being “Disneyland dad.” Dr. Gordon Finley specializes in issues facing divorced men. And he says that it’s tempting to use your visitation time as a weekend-long play date. But, what your children really need is a father – not another friend. Don’t try to combat your guilt by spoiling your kids. They need to be a part of your daily routine – and keep their own – that will help them feel grounded.