Q&A with Mike Shimberg, Single Minded Women’s Resident Single Dad

By Melissa Chapman

Single, divorced Dad and author of The Complete Single Father Mike Shimberg is Single Minded Women’s resident single Dad expert and here to answer all your burning questions.


Dear Complete Single Father:
My Ex-Husband and I have a good relationship, but I am now in my first serious relationship since my divorce and he is not being very friendly to me or my boyfriend. He is being very territorial around the kids, how should I deal with him on this?
Yours Truly,
Beleaguered Ex-Wife
Dear Beleaguered Ex-wife,
You have to get to the root of the problem that is causing his “new” behavior. Given that you are involved in your first serious relationship since the divorce, it may very well be that he is realizing another man will be spending time with his children. We men have a huge fear that ultimately our children will call someone else “Dad.” What we don’t realize is that as long as we continue to have the significant involvement with our children, which we had while we were married to their Mother and living under the same roof, even more so after the divorce, this won’t happen. Children never forget who their parents are when the parents are involved and present. Your ex may just need reassuring from you that you don’t intend to try to supplant this new boyfriend as your kids “new father”. Once he feels better about that issue, he may be more comfortable with your serious relationship and the good relationship with him will return.
Dear Complete Single Father:
My Ex and I have been divorced for about a year and we have two kids. Our relationship has really not been ideal and I feel like our kids are being adversely affected by it. I want to have a better relationship with him, but don’t know how. Any advice?
Thinking of my kids
Dear Thinking of my kids:
First and foremost, I want to let you know that the decision you are making is one of the smartest and most mature decisions any divorcees can make. 76% of children from divorce will be divorced themselves. That staggering number is mostly caused by the lack of interaction and negative relationship they see between their divorced parents. However, having a positive relationship with your ex is also one of the most difficult concepts to actually succeed with.
Typically divorcees fall into two categories. The first type of divorcee is the angry-I’m going to hold a grudge type; who is often hell-bent on making his ex miserable for the rest of her natural born life and holds a grudge against her for the injustices he believes his ex perpetrated against him. The second type of divorcee is the sensible type who has decided he is going to put whatever happened in his marriage behind him and figure out how to make his kids; childhood as positive as possible given the circumstances so that they will ultimately be in 24% of children form divorce who actually stay married.
Once one or both parties decide to take the second path, it’s amazing what can happen. So how do you get down that road? First, you forgive. It doesn’t matter who did what to whom. Placing blame is a fool’s game. (As an aside, this does not include issues like drug, alcohol problems, spousal abuse, etc. but rather the more traditional reasons divorce occurs.)
Second, you sit down together, as adults, and decide what kind of relationship you would like to have down the line. For example, you may decide that eventually you would like to have the type of relationship in which that you can share birthday parties and special events and freely discuss the current issues concerning your children.
Take baby steps toward that goal, just as you would weight loss or any other goal in your life. Make ground rules to deal with differences of opinion and most importantly agree not argue about it within your kid’s earshot. Chances are they heard enough of that when you were married. If you both decide that your first priority is your kids and not your own ego, this can work and you my even become friends. I know ex’s that have gone on to marry other people and both families go on vacations together with their kids. Start at step 1, but always work toward the end in mind.
Dear Complete Single Father:
My ex-husband makes me very mad sometimes and I end up complaining about him to my friends on the phone. Apparently, my seven year old heard me the other day and asked me to stop talking badly about daddy. I just don’t know how else to vent. Any suggestions?
Unhappily Yours,
Mad Mother
Dear Mad Mother:
It is okay to be mad and upset at your ex. Therapists tell us that anger is a part of the healing process and as long as it is done in a healthy manner, it can be helpful. However, you are not doing it in a healthy manner. NEVER criticize your ex within ear shot of your children. Believe it or not, when you criticize a child’s father, the child whether consciously or subconsciously interprets it as you criticizing 50% of them. This can lead to a child’s low self esteem and reluctance for them to open up to you about things going on in their life, especially when it occurs at Dad’s house. Are these the type of results you are looking for? If not, stop doing it. Also, friends often typically feed anger not help it. If you really want to vent to someone, find a therapist or clinical social worker who is trained in helping you deal with your feelings and getting past them.


If you have a question for Mike that you’d like him to address in next month’s column, feel free to e-mail him at  TheCompleteSingleFather@gmail.com . For information about The Complete Single Father check out his website at: http://www.thecompletesinglefather.com/


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