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The importance of fathers to their children's development

Did you settle for less-than-equal parenting time with the kids when you split from your ex-wife? If so, you may have done yourself and your children a huge disservice.

Conventionally, a lot of people seem to believe that it's more important for mothers to be present in their children's lives on a daily basis than it is for fathers to be there -- but the research shows something much different.

Fathers have such a profound effect on their children (and vice-versa) that there is a measurable difference between how well premature babies develop with and without their father's frequent visits. Early bonding with a child also produces chemical changes in the father's brain, mimicking the maternal connection women have with their babies.

For the sake of your children's well-being, here are the things you need to have following a split with your spouse:

1. Plenty of time

Children thrive best when parents are equally invested in their upbringing -- and that requires equal parenting time.

2. A positive attitude

You can't be negative around your children (especially toward your ex-spouse). Everyone suffers when one spouse blames the other -- and children may absorb that negativity and turn it onto themselves, which is never a good thing.

3. Close physical proximity

The closer you live to your ex-spouse, the better it is for your children. Even though you are no longer married, you need to serve as each other's backup and support person when it comes to the kids until those kids are grown.

4. A cooperative spirit

Are you working with your ex-spouse for a better future for your children? Are your goals for the kids aligned? The more cooperation you can cultivate between you, the better.

If you settled for a custody split that isn't really working out and seems to be damaging to your children, it may be time to seek a modification. Find out more about your options so that you can work toward a custody plan that makes sense for both you and your children.

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