Developing and maintaining a paternal bond with an infant after divorce

A close father-child relationship is essential to an infant’s mental health. A child custody agreement should guarantee a good visitation schedule.

Child custody issues can spark some of the most heated battles between parents during the divorce process in Texas. Who will have the most time with the child, who will have the authority to make decisions may all be part of the discussion. When the child is an infant, or is not born yet, the conversation may be significantly different. Traditional wisdom says that a baby needs its mother. However, according to Psychology Today, establishing a parent-child relationship with the father can be just as important to the best interests of the child.

Creating a healthy schedule

Activities such as bathing, bedtime and morning routines are essential parts of developing a strong bond with an infant, and both parents need opportunities for snuggling and soothing to foster trust. When discussing the parenting plan, they should keep in mind that the co-parenting schedule after the divorce ought to allow them to mirror the old routines as closely as possible. If the infant is still able to associate certain activities with each parent, it can help to maintain the consistency that contributes to healthy neurological development.

Breastfeeding has the potential to make healthy visitation difficult, but a father should never inhibit this attachment-strengthening activity. Offering encouragement and being willing to plan visits around the feeding schedule may influence the baby's mother to be more flexible so that the father's time is not limited by the mother's choice to breastfeed.

Fostering mental development

The bond between a father and a child goes deeper than the emotional relationship between the two of them. Psychology Today explains that forming an attachment to a caregiver is a coping mechanism that affects the rest of a child's life. Suddenly losing a regular routine with one of the parents can affect later relationships, and even the child's personality.

Brain development can also be affected when a child custody agreement does not allow the father and child to maintain a healthy attachment, experts say. Neurological responses to primary experiences with paren ts can create mental blueprints that affect the rest of the child's life. According to Psychology Today, being separated from a caregiver can also affect mental health immediately by triggering anxiety or depression.

The impact of the parenting plan on the health of the child makes it essential for parents to put aside their personal feelings while coming to an agreement. A father may feel as if he does not have the influence that the mother has in court. In a case like this, it may help to express willingness to be flexible as much as possible to gain the mother's confidence and cooperation. An attorney skilled in mediation may be able to assist parents in drawing up a schedule that is in the best interests of the child.