When it comes to the allocation of parenting time during a divorce, one of the most important considerations will be the best interests of the children. Both parents are equally important for the healthy emotional and social development of children.
Many fathers with infants and toddlers worry about detracting from the child’s bond with the mother, but research makes it clear that fathers also play an important role, including in the lives of infants and toddlers who are still developing their primary attachment.
Breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t ask for parenting time
All too often, fathers of young children, particularly infants or unborn children, feel like they can’t ask for much parenting time because of how important the bond with the mother is during those early months. If the child is breastfed, in particular, fathers may worry about interrupting supply for the mother by asking for parenting time.
Having parenting time is possible, even with an infant. After all, you can bottle-feed a breastfed child and the mother can pump to maintain her supply during the separation. You can also start with shorter sessions of a few hours, gradually building up to overnight stays and whole weekends when the child starts eating solid food.
Relationships with dads build problem-solving and verbal skills
As a dad, your time parenting the child can balance out any shortcomings or oversights in the mother’s parenting style. For example, children develop language skills more quickly when exposed to a greater assortment of words. Hearing not just one but two familiar voices with different speech patterns and words can help a child to develop their verbal skills more effectively.
Additionally, research shows that the hands-on and physical play encouraged by many fathers can promote better problem-solving skills in children, as mothers are often not as physical when interacting with their kids.
Your early involvement will affect your child’s self-esteem
Kids who grow up and the family after divorce can struggle with feelings of low self-esteem or rejection. Your continued presence in their life can help your child develop a stronger sense of self-esteem and improve their overall happiness and mental health.
Whether your children are small or haven’t even been born yet, pushing to play an active role in their lives will make all the difference for you and for them.