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Feature Article


The Role of a Divorced Father

Nina Chen, Ph.D., Human Development Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension


Fatherhood is very important in children's lives. Studies show that fathers who provide warmth, affection, and actively participate in the lives of their children will develop strong and satisfying parent-child relationships. Spending time and energy with children is a very important component for fathers to guide their children. A father's example is the most powerful influence to help children learn cooperation and responsibility.

Divorced fathers may not have enough opportunities to be with their children. Some divorced fathers only see their children on weekends or once every other week, or even less. They might feel the time spent should be just for fun without discipline because they want their kids to be happy. They don't want children to do any chores because the time spent is too short.

It is true, the time spent is too short for both father and child, however, a divorced father needs to take part in parenting. Children need a role model to learn and explore the real world. Children need encouragement and need to learn independence and responsibilities from their fathers. Children also need to learn the mystery of adult work and a model of competence.

So the time spent with kids is very important for divorced fathers. Spending meaningful time with children, listening to children about their feelings and concerns, talking to children about what you believe in, and letting them see values in action are ways to build a good relationship between a father and a child. Working together on the yard, wood work, housework chores, repairing, or playing together are some ways to help children develop a sense of responsibility, work values, cooperation, and competence. These activities and time together can provide a valuable memory for both fathers and children as well as teaching children living skills.

Finally, divorced fathers need to provide a pleasant emotional climate and not criticize the other parent. Children always get hurt when one parent says negative statements about the other parent. Remember children love both of their parents and don't want either side to get hurt.



Last Updated 05/11/2009


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