Fathering from a Distance
Mike’s daughter is getting ready for the prom. She is wearing her beautiful gown and looks as graceful as ever. Her dad admires her proudly and is glad that she is dating a boy that he approves of. Unfortunately, Mike cannot be here for this moment.
He is appreciating it through a photograph and a letter his daughter has sent him thanking him for being there for her emotionally even though he couldn’t be there in person. But Mike helped her prepare for this day by speaking with her on the phone and even talking with her date this evening. By making himself available to his daughter, he maintains a connection to her and involvement in her life. Mike is incarcerated. He, like many dads, must learn to be a father at a distance.
Mike writes to his daughter every day, calls her once a week, and his daughter visits him when she can. Mike has learned many tips for ways to meet his daughter’s needs for his guidance.
Do you father from a distance? If you don’t live near your children, are deployed, or perhaps just travel several days a week, here are 4 tips for being an involved father – even when you can’t physically be there:
- Notice what your children like. Do they like school, sports, or hobbies? If you don’t know, ask! Once you do know what interests them, let it interest you. Find out more about it and ask your kids questions about their interest.
- Become a long distance coach. If your child plays football, soccer, or another sport, learn more about it – from the skills needed to the rules of the game. Give your child a call before the big game for a pep talk and afterwards to find out how it went.
- Tell your children that you love and accept them no matter what. When kids don’t think their father loves and accepts them, they might seek attention from others. Everything you say or write shows how you feel about them. Show them you care by telling them so. Tell them directly – not through their mother or other people. They need to hear this message of love and acceptance directly from you.
- Tell your children about your spiritual beliefs. Talk to your children about what you believe. Children seek guidance and have questions about religion and spirituality; help them to answer these questions by honestly sharing with them information about your own beliefs and where you derive your values.