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How I Built a Close Father-Daughter Relationship After Divorce

Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

Divorce is never easy. It turns your world upside down. Ending a relationship you thought was to last till death forces you to part is emotionally devastating. When you are a parent, and throw children into that emotional turmoil, then you have to deal with a hurricane of guilt and remorse.

However, we are parents and parents must be strong, we must be there for our kids when they need us. We won’t be legally able to spend as much time with our children as before the divorce, so what time we have must be devoted to them.

I have two children. My first daughter was 9 when left her mother in 2005. I still feel guilty about choosing to leave the home where my child and I formed that bond that a father and daughter share.

After the divorce, I only got to see her every other weekend. However, I lived within walking distance of her home and got to see her a lot during the summer when we were both out of school. In many ways, we actually became closer. We’d have dinner dates with just the two of us where I would cook legendarily bad meals that we still laugh about today. We’d play whiffle ball and ping pong in my backyard, and we talked about everything. Most importantly for a parent, I listened to her.

It was always important for me to emphasize that she never had to fear telling me anything. And did she ever lay some doozies on me. Wild joy rides with her crazy friends; her stalking of her “hot” male teacher; her relationship with an SHP Trooper who she discovered had a secret family were some of the high or lowlights of her tales.

Despite my shock of hearing many of her stories. I felt pleased that she trusted me enough to confide in me. Now she is twenty-two years old and is a successful businesswoman. She recently purchased a new car. I am very proud of her. What I am proud of most is our relationship. It’s a relationship where she knows that my love for her is unconditional. She knows that no matter what she has done or what she will do, there is nothing that would diminish my feelings for her.

Both she and I have made some regrettable decisions. But no matter how flawed we are, what matters most is that our bond, though strained by divorce, is incredibly strong. These days, we see each other 3-4 times a week. We eat, we talk, we hike, kayak or just hang out. I love my daughter, and I am happy that as an adult she chooses to see me regularly.

I am thankful that my daughter’s mother allowed me to be an important part of her life, even after we split up. It is essential to convince your ex that you will be a positive influence on the life of your child. Many parents can be hurt and spiteful about the divorce. However, all parents want to be good parents.

Never lose the trust of your ex in regard to the well-being of your children. They need to know that you will cherish and enrich the life of your special offspring that you brought into this world together. If you can convince them of that, then it will be so much easier for you to maintain the bond between you and your child.

If there is a dispute between your ex and your child, resist the temptation to automatically take the side of your child because you may be angry with your ex. Make sure that your child knows that you and your ex are part of a co-parenting team. Make sure your ex knows that you want what is best for the child and act accordingly.


Mark Griffin, blog writer