Getting through a difficult Father’s Day

work-life balance - Dad swinging kids on a beach with sunset behind - Avoid being a Deadbeat Dad

For some, Father’s Day can be very difficult.

Many Dads find this one of the most difficult days of their year, and if you are one such dad please understand that you are not alone and your reasons are not unique to you.

Maybe you are absent from your children. Maybe you are unable to see your Dad, perhaps he is no longer alive, or a combination of reasons. the point is that Father’s Day affects many people for the same reasons.

The first thing to acknowledge is that, in reality, it is just ‘another day‘. The cosmos is not aligned to make you unhappy.

Where do these feelings come from?

Depending on your situation the feelings are often a combination of one or more of the following:

    • Regret
    • Grief
    • Loneliness
    • Low Mood / Depression

And the best thing you can do is recognise and understand the feelings to begin to address them.

Father's day - Father and son - Photo by Kay on Unsplash

Be their hero – Photo by Kay on Unsplash.

Being a Dad

Being a Dad that is loved by his kids is the most wonderful feeling possible. It compares to nothing else.

The love between Father and child is not the same as any other type of love, and, if you are one of the lucky ones, you will never encounter the feeling of being separated from your kids and their lives. For many, though, separation can be one of the most wretched feelings possible.

Knowing the love of your Dad

Fortunately, the machismo of being a ‘guy’ has softened somewhat in recent times and it is now acceptable to admit that you want to be loved. Loved by a partner, loved by your kids, and loved by your parents.

I’m now 62 years old and a grandad. My own Dad died of lung cancer 23 years ago and, for the want of a better term he was my ‘Rock’. The stability that I had needed as a child and, I later discovered, as an adult and father myself.

Even today, as we celebrate Father’s Day 23 years after he died I still find myself missing him and questioning myself as to whether I was a good son, and was he proud of me at all. You can almost guarantee that your own children will also go through these emotions when you are gone.

If you are separated from your kids, regardless of how old they are, you may be going through emotions of guilt. Guilt serves no useful purpose at all on Father’s Day.

How to avoid the ‘Deadbeat Dad‘ label

Firstly, understand that you are not doing this for yourself. Everything that you do should be with your kids as the priority. If you keep this in mind you will automatically get the reward of knowing that you have prioritised your kids.

Secondly, the relationship between a mother and father is often so soured by the breakup that it clouds judgements. Anger/hurt/resentment are all natural feelings that regularly get in the way of common sense. In many cases they work AGAINST common sense and actively block one, or both parents from really putting their kids first… they just can’t see it. 

There are two key elements to not being a Deadbeat Dad:

  • Do the right thing
  • Be seen to be doing the right thing

What does ‘Do the right thing‘ mean?

This is not, really, as difficult as it sounds, and, once the animosity is removed, is not rocket science. If you are a genuine Dad you will:

  • want to know what your kids are doing – so take an interest
  • want to know what they are thinking – ask and listen to the answers
  • want to know that they are well-fed, clothed, and housed – pay for them
  • want to know that school is going well – contact the school, tell them you want to know
  • want to be part of your kids’ lives – make arrangements and STICK to them… no matter what!
  • want your family to be part of your kids’ lives – encourage them to make contact.
  • Remember, you will be their Dad for their whole life – not just for Christmas
Getting through a difficult Father's Day 1

All of the above you would do if you lived with your kids, you just need to find different ways to do it. 

What does it mean to be seen to do the right thing?

Of course, doing the right thing for your kids is the No.1 priority. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. The problem, though, can be that much of being a ‘good Dad’ is invisible to our children… it just goes-on in the background. If some of the more tangible, visible things cannot be managed, and your kids don’t know about the behind-the-scenes activities (maintenance payments etc.) all they will know is that you are not there… that you are a ‘Deadbeat Dad‘.

Some things to try:

  • Your kids need to know that you have had them in your mind the whole time.
  • NEVER forget a birthday card – If you can’t send it directly, send it to a third party for safe-keeping
  • NEVER forget a Christmas card… as above
  • Write a letter every few months. Include photos – again, send them to a third party, if necessary.
  • If you see things they may be interested in, send them a note, or add it to your Blog/diary
  • Get copies of school reports, read them and KEEP them.
  • If you can access social media, schedule a weekly chat and NEVER miss it.
  • If there is no electronic access, create a private blog and add content at least weekly. Keep it up, and make sure that someone has access should something happen to you. Give the password to your kids when they turn 18.
  • Make sure your family know EVERYTHING that you are doing
  • Keep a diary
  • Tell them that you love them
  • Do stuff with them, rather than buying stuff for them (that will be forgotten)
  • Activities like fly-fishing are a great bonding exercise
  • If you have anger/drink/drug issues get the help you need to be the Dad your kids deserve

It sounds dramatic but as your kids grow older you need to have ‘something’ to show them. Something to document your commitment to them and their development.

Some things to avoid:

  • NEVER complain
  • NEVER let them down – if there is a genuine issue COMMUNICATE
  • NEVER discuss issues with your kids that they do not need to know about
  • NEVER put a new partner before your kids
  • NEVER let them see you upset
  • NEVER let them see you in an unfit condition
  • NEVER think that money will replace time spent with your kids
  • NEVER be impatient

*Of course, there are mothers that, too, are in this situation, but it is more often men and so ‘Dad’ is used in order to ease readability.

Conclusion

No matter what has happened to bring you to this page, it is never too late to be a ‘Good Dad’.

 

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