7 Ways Divorce Made Me a Better Dad

The author with his two sonsThe author with his two sonsThis year was my 11th Father's Day, and I spent it without my kids. If your brain just went "Awwwww," turn that brainfrown upside down. My ex-wife and I worked out long ago that, given our travel schedules, she and I would trade our "Days" this year: I had a great Mother's Day replete with pancakes, Scrabble, and Monty Python's Flying Circus, and my ex spent Father's Day driving 600 miles to take our 10-year-old to camp. I think I got the long end of the deal.

This year also marked my fourth Father's Day as a single dad, and at one point I found myself marveling at how the day has evolved for me since the divorce. When we were splitting, I was super possessive of it, because that was MY time with MY boys, and come Hell or High Water, the Three French Men Would Spend Father's Day Doing Fatherly Dadthings, So Help Me Dad. But now it's casual because no matter what life shovels at us, I know I'm a big part of my kids' lives, and they're a big part of mine.

Related: 10 ridiculous things people still think dads can't do

Then I got to wondering if I could ever have gotten here as a person if my ex-wife and I were still together. I don't deal in hypotheticals much because hypotheticals are for suckers and/or rabid sports fans. But I do know that my life has grown back pretty well since it burned to the ground four years ago. Here are 7 ways the transformation has helped me be a better dad:

All time is quality timeAll time is quality time1. All time is quality time
Since I don't see my kids every day, I've learned never to take them for granted. When we're together, I unplug from the computer and phone, and I'm all about them. I want to be present for them, for as long as they're willing to be present with me.

Related: 20 simple ways to show your kids you love them

I'm a happier personI'm a happier person2. I'm a happier guy

Toward the end of my marriage, I spent a lot of time feeling trapped and angry. Now that I've figured some stuff out, I'm much more easygoing. So I'm more chill when my 7 year old kicks over yet another cup of juice that he left on the carpet.

Their mom and I get along betterTheir mom and I get along better3. Their mom and I get along better
Now that we're not bogged down by the pressure of trying to make a marriage work, my kids' mother and I get along better and we can support each other more. And when I do favors for her (as she does for me), I can show my boys how to maintain a respectful relationship with a woman.

Related: 12 things your kids MUST see you do

We've forged a parenting partnershipWe've forged a parenting partnership4. We've forged a parenting partnership

With the pesky romantic relationship dead and buried, my ex and I can concentrate on the co-ownership of this business of raising our boys and focus on what they need.

More time to read and writeMore time to read and write5. More time to read and write
Now that I have more uninterrupted time to myself, I've been able to delve into parenting issues (especially those affecting dads and the boys we're raising) and analyze lots of varied viewpoints from varied angles.

Related: 10 parenting skills moms can learn from dads

No fearNo fear6. No fear

My anger grew from my fear of divorce, and surviving the split has not only vented some steam, it's also tempered me. I'm not nearly as fazed by most things that a small business owner encounters daily.

I have the best job everI have the best job ever7. I have the best job ever
I just spent the last couple weeks working on all sorts of dad-based things, including this video about "The New Face of Dad," and the date and venue announcement for the 2013 Dad 2.0 Summit. Without my divorce, Dad 2.0 wouldn't have happened. Nuff said.

- By Doug French

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Doug FrenchDoug FrenchDoug French is a writer and single dad who has written his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad, since June 2003. He is also co-founder of the Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual conference where marketers, social media leaders, and blogging parents connect to discuss the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood. He has been profiled in or written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Huffington Post, and Parents magazine, and his writing has appeared in several parentcentric websites and blogging anthologies.

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