Daddy Dearest: Three Types of Dads and How to Deal with Them

By Elina Furman

Being single and raising a child on your own is hard enough, but the decision to co-parent is not an easy one. On the one hand, you need the extra help and assistance. What with holding down full-time work and being a full-time Mom, it’s a miracle you’re able to do it all on your own.
 
On the other hand, you’re probably dealing with some grievances with the father of your children and may not want to have your parenting style derailed. Of course, if your ex-partner wants to be a part of his children’s lives and you’re able to make it work, co-parenting can benefit all parties involved, provided you’re willing to do what it takes to make the arrangement work. Of course, not all fathers are created equal. A co-parenting style that works for one type of Dad may not be as effective with another. Here are the top three types of Dads and guidelines for dealing with each.
 
THE KNOW-IT-ALL DAD
When it comes to what your children eat for dinner, read before bed, and watch on TV, this type of Dad thinks he has all the answers. No matter what you do, he is convinced he’s better at this parenting thing than you. It’s not surprising to find yourself butting heads when it comes to child rearing, but sharing custody with him doesn’t have to be a perpetual tug of war. Often, these fathers are just overcompensating to make up for the fact that they feel guilty for not being around the kids 24/7. The best way to deal with this Dad is to calmly explain that parenting is not a one-way street. Show him you’re willing to bend on some points, but stand firm on other rules that you feel strongly about.
 
Rules to Follow:
  • Avoid competing for your children’s love and attention. 
  • Try to focus on the children’s healthy development instead of who is right and wrong.
  • Try to avoid sending message to the ex-partner through the children whenever possible.
  • Instead of demanding your way, always use reason and logic to explain your point of view if you and your ex-partner disagree on child rearing practices.
 
THE INDULGENT FATHER
He might not win any father of the year awards, but at least this Dad’s heart is in the right place. When it comes to this type of Dad, his top priority is to make sure the kids enjoy spending time with him and he’s not above bribing and spoiling them to get his way. It’s not easy working with an ex-partner who lets the kids do whatever they want, especially if they begin to think that you’re too strict of a disciplinarian. While he may make plenty of mistakes, regular communication with this type of Dad can make a big difference. Explain that it’s important to establish similar household rules and routines. Make sure he understands that your child needs to know that their behavior will be treated similarly no matter which parent they’re with. Once you show him that you’re aware of his lenient behavior and reinforce what a good Dad he is, he’ll stop trying to win the kids over.
 
Rules to Follow:
  • Evaluate rules and boundaries with your ex-partner at least once a year and make changes as needed.
  • Make sure that both parents are responsible for raising the children, and not just entertaining them.
  • Allow the children to stay in touch with you through letters, e-mails and phone calls.
  • When communicating with this Dad, do not preach or use a superior tone of voice.
 
THE ERATIC/ABSENTEE DAD
He’s never around and then shows up unexpectedly wanting to be a part of your lives. He may have even abandoned you and the kids in your hour of need. There may be a million and one reasons why he shouldn’t be allowed to parent his children, but it’s very important that you don’t turn him into the enemy despite your personal history. While it’s pretty obvious that your kids will learn about what a dead-beat Dad their father is, you don’t have to teach them these lessons early. In fact, it’s better that they find out themselves in case they blame you for making him out to be more of an ogre than he is.
 
Major problems can arise when a parent talks badly about another parent. It’s not unlikely for the kids to feel guilty and confused about their parent’s love when they’re caught in the middle. No matter how irresponsible their father is, never put the children in the middle.
 
Rules to Follow:
  • Avoid making negative comments about your ex-partner in front of the children.
  • Try to make the transition from one home to the other as smooth as possible on the children.
  • Do not show unhappiness or anger about your ex-partner in front of the kids.
  • Talk to the children about their feelings about their father, making sure not to make leading statements.
  • Teach the children to get help if they think they may be in a dangerous situation.
 
While it’s important to be tolerant or understanding of the father figure in your child’s life, you can’t afford to be lax if you suspect your ex-partner is drinking, doing drugs, or acting abusive. If you have any reason to suspect any of this behavior, it’s important that you talk to a lawyer immediately about your rights in order to keep your children out of harm’s way.
 

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