Some of the most heroic examples of fatherhood are found in single, non-custodial dads. While some men make things worse for everyone by pretty much checking out of their children’s lives, more and more men are bucking that trend. Divorced dads are finding ways to engage their children despite the challenges.
How can you do that? This isn’t breaking any new ground here, but maybe these three general ideas will be encouraging to you:
- First, use technology—texting, calling, email, Skype, Facetime, whatever you can pull off. One dad came up with his own code for “I love you” that he and his child could text to each other. Often, technology can make or break relationships, so work hard to use it to open lines of communication.
- Second, collaborate with Mom. This may be hard to hear, but it’s vitally important. According to one expert, the “best predictor of whether a father is going to be involved in his kids’ lives is his relationship with the mom.” She is often the gate-keeper for your interactions, so dad … find a way to work together.Maybe schedule monthly meetings with her to compare schedules and talk through discipline issues. Put any and all hostilities behind so you can do what’s best for your kids.And to any divorced moms reading along, please take the high road and encourage that relationship between your children and their father. Your kids will benefit in some important ways.
- And then third, dads, be creative and adapt to your situation. Our friend Randy is a single dad, and when his girls were very young, they moved farther away with their mom so they could be near their extended family. They were really too young to have meaningful phone conversations, and Randy realized that if he didn’t do something drastic, he might not have any kind of relationship with them.
So, Randy read books and searched everywhere for ideas. One great idea was to send his ex-wife large envelopes, with the postage paid up to five pounds. Whenever she had artwork or school assignments that she didn’t want to keep, she’d send them along. And those papers and trinkets helped Randell stay connected with his daughters. He learned a lot and they gave him some great conversation starters with his girls.
So don’t get discouraged. Hang in there. Even in the toughest situations, there are still ways that creative dads can be involved and invested in their children’s lives.
What would you add to this? What can you share that has worked for you that would be encouraging to other dads in a similar situation? Please share your ideas below or on our Facebook page.
NCF is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. You can sign up for NCF’s Today’s Father Weekly email here.