Away But Not Apart: How to Be a Good Dad Despite Separations
Do you find yourself often separated from your children? Whether it’s due to job demands, divorce, military service or some other challenge, this is a growing issue for today’s fathers … including me.
I travel a lot for work; I’m away from home much more than I would like to be, although my family knows that I have a calling on my life. Still, I have to accept the fact that as a road warrior dad, my absence can add to today’s crisis of fatherlessness.
For all of you guys who love your kids and can’t be there as much as you would like, you can be “away but not apart.” Here are 3 thoughts that have helped me stay connected at home.
1. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your family members. Is your absence weakening your relationships? You might be ignoring some warning signs or losing touch with your wife and children more than you realize. Sometimes I’ll ask Chance, “Son, am I gone too much?” And he’ll say, “No, Dad, I’m okay. I know what you’re doing.” Ask your bride, too. That feedback also helps you to keep your priorities straight when you are together. Your time and attention becomes more focused.
Also, dad, be open to the possibility that changes may be necessary. If your family relationships are suffering or even dangerously at-risk, it’s worth checking into a different position at your company or even changing jobs. That might seem like an extreme option, but it’s much easier than a divorce, if you’re married, or seeing your children go through major struggles without you (or because of your absence).
2. Find ways to stay in touch while you’re apart. Invest some extra effort and expense, whether that means texting, video conferencing, or your preferred way of staying in touch. Set up regular times for phone calls, so everyone can be available and expect your call. Be creative and find new ways to connect.
3. Conduct yourself with integrity. This might seem totally separate from your role as a father or a husband, but it’s all connected. Doing what’s right when you’re away from your children makes you a better man, which makes you a better father. Your self-discipline and character will make a difference in your life in many ways, and will spill over to your kids.
Even when you aren’t with your children or you have legal challenges with their mom, do the right thing and keep your poise. You will bless your kids by maintaining a high reputation and a virtuous life.
- If at all possible, shorten your work trip. Can you squeeze in a late meeting and then fly home late instead of waiting another day?
- Before a business trip, be sensitive to your wife’s feelings and find ways to lighten her load in some way. Also, do a few special one-on-one things with each of your kids. Build up a reservoir of time so your absence isn’t quite as difficult.
- Tell your children about why you’re leaving — what you hope to accomplish and the bigger-picture benefits it will bring to clients, consumers, or families.
- Leave your family members small gifts or notes of encouragement that they’ll find when you’re gone.
- Put some planning into your re-entry back home. The first few minutes after you walk in the house can make a big difference. (And save discipline issues and bills until later.)
Written by Carey Casey
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