Like most remarried fathers, staying in contact with your eldest children is an important and challenging role that we have. My wife, Sophia calls it being a Bi-coastal Dad. I like it because it reflects in that short title – what I do day to day – in all of my children’s lives. Between my wife and I have a total of 8 children, my eldest children living in other states and my youngest 3 living with my wife and I. This adds a hefty mix of birthdays, graduations, sports events, hobbies and many other life events, which makes for a very busy life. Where the stress of work, appointments, finances, etc. could easily become a swirling cyclone of to do’s, budgeting – mixed in with playtimes, homework, and coffee… lot’s of flipping coffee. You may be wondering how I’m able to maintain a family this large, and in two different states without losing my mind (completely).
Overcoming obstacles is constant.
For myself, the first biggest obstacle I faced was the time I was away from my eldest children. During the long period that I was living in another state, I had worked quickly to begin the process of getting on my feet. Not too long after finding a job everything started going south with the children, my youngest daughter at the time, Humble became depressed – refusing to eat and even play – while my son’s and eldest daughter began acting out in a myriad of ways; disrespectful behavior, anger, etc.
My first attempt at moving back closer to them left me homeless for a few months, only to return to Washington to start over again, with the renewed energy to become financially able to have more visits with them. I found social media room be a great way – besides phone calls to keep in touch. After remarriage in which I took on the role of stepdad to my wonderful and smart daughter Jaedyn, there soon came the birth of my two youngest children, Jordyn and Josiah; I found myself juggling visits to Texas as planning visits to keep in touch with my eldest children.
Awareness in my role as a Dad.
Do you know what your children do when you’re not immediately present? It’s similar to the refrain we parents share about young children when they are quiet is the time you should really check on them. Awareness of what my children are doing in every aspect of their life is an important aspect of my role. Granted, I can’t – on my own – be physically present for each individual child; I have the help of my beautiful wife and for my eldest children their mother who helps me to keep up on a lot of different milestones that occur. This is especially true as they grow into adulthood, where they began to think about their future goals and objectives. Having 3 of my children currently in that such transition it’s I’ve been seeing the need for it. So I call, twice a week, text often, and even if there is nothing to talk about. Being in tune with my to children, aware of what is expected of me is less about the actual physical presence on its own – rather it’s about having a living and growing relationship with each child.
To Always Make Time for What’s Important.
Whether it’s planning a visit with my eldest children, pretend to barbecue with our toddler, or helping our 14 years old get to the next level of her favorite video game. As busy as life can get sometimes there’s never an excuse for not having moments with your children. While they might not be as many as mom’s, that doesn’t make them any less memorable. Our children aren’t able to see all that keeps us outside of the home. My youngest daughter, Jordyn once asked her mother where I was after noticing my absence after I left for work one day, “Work?” she replied. I could almost picture the confusion on her face thinking about what it means. What she does understand is when I’m not at work, I’m there to play with her and teach her.
The above video is one of Teyvion’s (he’s the one in red) ‘David v.s. Goliath’ style fights, I’m not sure why he likes fighting bigger opponents, but as I’ve watched it several times; it shows an interesting aspect of his character. While I wasn’t at that fight, I’ve been one of his many fans; and when he needed me to be – his adviser.
Guiding my children in their spiritual walk with God.
As a Muslim, my faith is a very important facet in my life. It’s the binding glue that brings my life into a clear focus on my purpose. Likewise, a spiritual worldview is important for my children to develop in their lives as they grow up. Starting from early childhood and up my wife and I see our role as spiritual leaders in our home since young children aren’t capable of forming a theological basis for the existence and belief in a higher power. Faith is an attitudinal, rather than cognitive concern learned and practiced upon from us. So our children see us pray – a Christian mother and Muslim father – hearing the Adhan (call to prayer ) as well as recitation of The Apostle’s Creed, but most importantly they are exposed to and learn the basic values and ethics our religious faiths encourage in us to be better people.
Successfully leading a blended family.
As I stated earlier, a part of staying aware of my children’s growth is to rely on and work alongside my wife and eldest children’s mother. While my ex-wife and I haven’t always been perfect co-parents we’ve learned to put a majority of our differences behind and work towards better co-parenting. It’s a fine balance I’ve been working on and taking valuable life lessons from. For example, being a stepfather. I’ve learned a child doesn’t have to be yours biologically for you to love and help raise them. I have two wonderful and amazing step-daughters; who have helped me become a better dad, and in turn, I strive to be the best I possibly can. In my experience, it has taken a great deal of patience, consistency and open communication with their mothers as well as the girls.
All in all, my experience as a dad is my own unique story I’ve learned these valuable experiences from, but they are lessons many dads can reflect upon and use to their advantage as well. What is your unique story as a dad? What important lessons have you taken away from your journey in fatherhood?