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5 Common Mistakes Men Make After Divorce

4. Giving In to Hostility

Don't make the mistake of continuing to fight with your ex, especially if children are involved.

"You don't want to be seen as an enemy or an antagonist but as a co-parent," says Arizona State University professor emeritus of psychology Sanford L. Braver, PhD. "I'm not saying that that will be easy, but everybody will be better off."

Braver, co-author of Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths, recommends that men consider conflict and anger management classes. In his research, he's found that when dads learn how to put compromises before conflict and competition, both the kids and the parents do better.

"Learn to manage as well as you can from the middle ground," says Braver. "Diplomacy and negotiating skills are key."

Being civil with your ex may encourage more flexibility in terms of custody, and potentially more time with your kids.

"If divorced spouses have a working relationship, they can agree to informally bypass some stipulations," Finley says. "Workloads go up and down, schedules can shift, and you want some way to take that into account."

5. Backing Off From Parenting

If you're a dad, divorce doesn't change that. Your child still needs you as a father, not as a visitor. 

"That should be the most important thing from the man's point of view: His child wants him and his child needs him," Finley says. "Maintaining the relationship is important for your child's developmental outcome: social, emotional, and educational."

Finley warns against becoming what he calls a "Disneyland dad," who acts as if his role is to show up on weekends and show the kids a good time.

"That's not good for you or your kids," Finley says. "Help them with their homework. Talk about what's on their minds."

Before divorce, some dads, Buser says, make the mistake of yielding much of their parenting role to their partners. There's a possible silver lining to divorce if they put in the work, however.

"Lots of guys have never had experience as the primary caregiver, and they don't know what to do and have trouble adapting," Buser says. "But divorce gives them an opportunity, when they are with their kids, to be a full-time parent for the first time. They often become better fathers after divorce."

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Reviewed on December 17, 2012

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