Sometimes Being “Good Enough” Is Plenty

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a newly divorced single father. I hear a lot about how children in divorced families have all sorts of behavioral problems, do worse in school, abuse drugs, are depressed and anxious, and on and on. It’s scaring the heck out of me and makes me think that no matter what I do, my kids are doomed. I want to be an amazing dad and give my kids the best possible life. Isn’t there something I can do?

A: I get this question a lot and wish there was some way to get the media to quit portraying children in divorced families as self-destructive, failure-bombs waiting to explode. The reality is that kids whose parents have split (whether by divorce or the breakup of a never-married couple), can do just as well as any other kids. There are definitely some obstacles, but they can be overcome. Here are a few ideas that will help.
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Helping a Step Mom Adapt to Her New Role

I’m the divorced father of two kids. I’ve been going out with a wonderful woman for a few months now and we’re heading in the direction of getting married. The problem is that she’s not quite sure how to behave around my kids. What can I do to help her—and my kids—feel more like a family? How do I help my kids accept her as part of our family?

You are the single most important factor in determining how the new woman in your life will deal with her roles as your girlfriend and possible step-mother to your children. You’re the one who has to welcome her into your family and you’re the one who has to make sure the children understand her role. Like just about anyone stepping into a pre-existing family unit, your girlfriend is probably going to feel a little insecure. Doing some of the following will go a long way toward helping her feel more confident:
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When Good Teens Go Bad

Our 18-year-old son just got arrested. He’s been in trouble with the law before and never did well in school. His mother and I know he’s responsible for his own actions, but we can’t help blaming ourselves. We feel like failures as parents. Where did we go wrong and what can we do for our son?

Parenting an adolescent isn’t a particularly easy thing to do even under the rosiest of circumstances. Having a healthy, well-adjusted, top-performing, polite, well-groomed, socially conscious teen would certainly make the process more enjoyable for everyone, but what if, despite all the wonderful things you’ve done for him, he turns out the very opposite?
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A Single Dad’s Guide to His Daughter’s Puberty

I’m a single dad and my daughter is 11. I know I’m going to have some kind of discussion with her about puberty, but I don’t have a clue where to begin. I also don’t know what and how much I should say to my daughter about her body and about sexual feelings she is going to start to experience. Help!

Congratulations! You’re about to deal with something that most dads spend a lot of time worrying about. Luckily, though, it really isn’t all that bad.

Whether you’re a custodial dad or you share custody, it’s reasonably safe to assume that your ex will be having some discussions about puberty and menstruation with your daughter. But sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you planned. Even if they do, it’s a good idea for you to prepare yourself to deal with these issues anyway. Women’s bodies have always been something of a mystery to most men and it’s perfectly normal to be confused, embarrassed, or even somewhat put off by your daughter’s physical changes.
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Introducing Your Kids To The New Woman In Your Life

I got divorced a number of years ago. I’ve been going out with the same person for a few months now and things are getting serious. She and my kids haven’t met yet, but I think they should. Is there a right way and time to introduce them? What kinds of reactions can I expect from my children when I do make the introduction?

Getting the kids and the new person in your life together for the first time can often be a very stressful event for everyone involved and requires a lot of preparation. I strongly recommend waiting until you’re "serious" to introduce your girlfriend to your kids. That doesn’t mean you have to be engaged, but as long as your relationship is exclusive and committed, it’s safe. When, how, and where you set up the initial meeting is up to you, but here are a few general things to keep in mind:
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Helping Your Kids Cope with Your Divorce

My kids are having a terrible time coping with my divorce. As their father, I am trying to be there for them as much as I can. But nothing I say or do seems to help. What should I do?

Sometimes, despite all your efforts, your children will need more help than you’re capable of providing. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent, just that you know your limitations. Here’s what you should be looking for:
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