A noncustodial father has a lot going against him when it concerns his children. Depending on his situation, the fact that he isn’t always present in the home as his children are one that has the potential to take its toll on him; as well as his children. Another factor against us is that some fathers may not live in the same state as their children. Even in the best of circumstances, many fathers struggle to be actively involved with their children. The important thing for noncustodial fathers (and those that have custody) is that we do matter in the lives of our children and that striving to be more active in their lives is more than just a matter of getting child support paid on time.
The Missing Role of the Super Dad
Dr. Ken Canfield, Founder and President of the National Center for Fathering said something that I think is very important for fathers to remember, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.”. I remember the first fishing trip I took my sons on, while they weren’t too interested in the finer points of fishing; such as baiting the hook, or even how best to cast a line. What was important was that their dad took them somewhere — did something with them — and interacted with them in a way that was specifically there own. It could be something as small as giving advice to my teenage son about young ladies, or his two younger brothers on friends and peer pressures they may face.
The same with my daughters, as well, taking them shopping (not that I’m big on shopping), or for a tea party. Even learning to braid hair can be a worthwhile skill to learn in connecting with your child. The role of the father is much more than a paycheck, or means of financial stability. There has been an increasing amount of research done on the roles fathers play in the lives of their children (links to relevant sources are included at the end of this article).
3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Super Dad.
I have always had a lot of respect for my father. Looking back I understand he wasn’t perfect, however, what I respected about him most was that he was the hardest working man I’ve ever met. He was never out of work, and as hard as he worked he always took out the necessary time with me and my siblings. He helped me get my very first job, went to my karate matches, and even helped me keep my Gi clean and freshly pressed (along with my other clothes). Fathers are a child’s link to how they should respond to, and engage the world around them; giving them the tools to deal with their emotions, and develop the tools necessary to be more independent and ready for the world that awaits them as they grow older. There has been an increasing amount of research done on the roles fathers play in the lives of their children:
1. Communication is key – Yet it’s a need that should be stressed, a useful booklet I’ve found from National Fatherhood Initiative, “The Ultimate Guide To Connecting With Your Child” includes questions that dads can ask their child (children) to start conversations with them when fathers aren’t living in the home. Along with regular phone calls and actual physical visits this booklet can help fathers address the negative feelings children may have as a result of their dad’s living separately from them.
2. Stay consistent in what you say and do – I make it constant reminder myself to never make promises I can’t keep. While our lives are already stressful enough in this fast-paced world of ours, filled with deadlines, schedules, and other things that we are rushing to get done; we tend to forget it may not be that way for our children. No matter how small the promise, the fact that you did what you said you were going to do outweighs anything that may come up. A promise to call at a particular time, or a gift that the child wanted. The wisest course would be to remember if your not sure you can deliver don’t promise it to them. It’s better to say no, or that you will keep the request in mind.
3. No small deed goes unnoticed – I remember an argument my ex-wife and I got into, I had allowed my life to become too busy in my search to get out of unemployment. She was well aware of my situation and how stressful it was, yet I was unaware at the time how my infrequent phone calls due to my stressful busy life schedule were harming our children. “Being there for children is about more than just money, it’s about being a part of their lives, and participating in it no matter how small it may seem.” she reminded me. For fathers who live far away from their children a simple phone call, a letter, email, even a picture of them you make into a card via photoshop. Children don’t look at the size or expense of what you do, rather what’s important to them is that you did it.
As was stated earlier there is a multitude of ways fathers can establish a better relationship with their children, but it takes effort, and the willingness to stay consistent even when things get rough.