If you are a dad who doesn’t live with his kids: This is for you
By Barbara Pierce
“No words can describe what a father goes through when he gets separated from the mother of his children,” says a divorced dad on allprodad.com. “Not only does he lose his partner, he’s removed from his own kids.”
It’s painful — it’s tough being a dad separated from his children.
“I can understand why some fathers move away from their children, allprodad.com continues. “Not because they don’t love their children but because of the pain and the emotional roller coaster they go through. It’s their way of dealing with their pain. I can understand.”
But your kids really need you to be a part of their lives; they need you badly. Don’t be an absentee dad.
“Father involvement is huge; we’re always looking for a father to be as involved as possible,” said Allison Jackson, associate executive director of programs at ICAN (Integrated Community Alternative Network, previously known as Kids Oneida.)
ICAN’s mission is to keep families together. It provides mentors to children so that they will have a male influence.
“Having a dad is especially important for pre-adolescent and adolescent boys,” said Sandy Seaman, family counselor at the Center for Family Life & Recovery, Herkimer. The children she works with have mental health issues and are at risk of being taken out of their home.
Of the 20 families she is working with, only one is in a two-parent home.
“When there is no dad, we find a male role model for the boys,” she said. “There is a lot of parenting support offered in our community.”
It’s not that single mothers can’t be great mothers. They can. But they can’t be fathers.
Kids need mothers and fathers to prepare them to function and thrive in the world.
“When the father’s not there, something gets broken that cannot be fixed,” Shawn Hardnetts said online. He thought there was something wrong with him because his father wasn’t around.
“Your kids need you to be a part of their life. While divorce is difficult, I want to encourage others that you can remain close to your children,” according to allprodad.com.
Growing up without a father is destructive to both boys and girls, but each sex suffers differently. Girls are more likely to become depressed, more likely to self-harm, and more likely to be promiscuous.
Fatherless boys are trouble
Boys who grow up with a father tend to act out in a manner that’s harmful to others. Some say 90% of mass shooters, prisoners and ISIS terrorism recruits are males who were deprived of a father. (For more on this, see “Between You and Me” on Page 6 in this edition.)
Some suggestions for dads to be involved in their child’s life after the split, from dads who have been there:
— First, no matter what happens, you’re still a father. Even though your relationship with their mother is gone, your love for your child doesn’t stop.
— Work at being a part of your child’s life. Reach out to him or her. Ask questions about their life. Go to parent-teacher conferences, send cards to them, go to their school stuff and sporting events.
— Remain on good terms with your ex so you’ll have better access to your kids. You can even call every night and see how their day went.
— Don’t bad mouth their mother in front of your child. Children need to feel good about both parents.
— Never force your child to take sides; every child will have loyalties to both parents.
— Don’t argue with their mother in front of your child.
— You don’t have to take them on pricey adventures when they spend time with you. You don’t need to cover them with gifts or keep them entertained. Just spend time with them being dad; they’re as happy just to be with you.
— Talk with your child about what’s going on. The earlier you tell your child what is happening and the more often you talk, the more comfortable he will feel. Encourage him to share his fears, worries, and feelings with you. This can help make him feel safe and special.
— When talking with your child about the split, be open and honest about what will happen. Talk about it in simple terms. Make sure they know the split is not their fault. Children often assume blame for the problems of their parents. Reassure your child that you love him and will not leave him.
— Be patient with his questions. Sometimes carefully listening is more helpful than talking.
— If you have a new family, make sure your children are part of it. Make sure your new partner wants your children to be part of your life together. As the man in the middle between your new partner and your children, show them that they are all important to you.
Above all, maintain a strong connection — just be Dad.