Sherri (not her real name) was used to seeing her father on weekends, summers, and holidays as a child.
“It didn’t really bother me because it was all that I knew. I may have had longings for something different in preschool, but after that it was normal. I was pretty happy,” she says.
Many of today’s fathers are faced with a new reality of parenting. Because of divorce or relationship breakups, they live apart from their children. Rather than seeing them on a daily basis, they spend time with them in planned blocks of time.
This does not have to mean the end of meaningful fatherhood, however.
Reminiscing, Sherri continues, “My dad tried really hard to make time for my sister and me. He could’ve just been a father who only dealt with his new wife and their son. He could’ve just left us and not been bothered with us. It would’ve been easy. But he would travel 30 miles on Fridays to pick us up from our grandmother’s house, then drive us back on Sundays. Sometimes the weekends were short. But he prioritized us.”
Prioritizing one’s children is the hallmark of a good father, whether he lives in the home with his children or not.
Many fathers find the test of dealing with angry mothers, distance, burdensome child support payments, past mistakes, new relationships, and basic awkwardness allow them to make less and less time for their children.
My own brother, Travis, has two children that currently live in another state. Though his physical proximity to them has changed, he reports, not much else will. For those struggling with fathering from a distance, his newfound philosophy may be your paternal balm.
In order to cope with his present situation, Travis told me, “I look toward the future a lot. When I have the kids, I try to pour into them. I take it day by day. I encourage them with the idea that this arrangement will be temporary.
“Most of our lives are spent as adults. I call them, write letters to them, and send them things. Most importantly, I pray for them. Even when you see your kids daily, some dads aren’t fathering their children. The relationship I have with my kids is very strong, even when we’re apart.
“I tell them to appreciate the time we do have together, and we’ll have even more later on. I’ve released them to God because God can be a father to them when I’m not there. He’s in control.
“I encourage other fathers not to give up because we have a lifetime with our children, and distance does not break those bonds.
... Children remember the little things and even after we’re apart, they will still feed off the love they experienced. Neither of my kids have any doubt that I love them. I’m content because God gives me that contentment. That’s the real way to raise children — in God’s power, not our own, accepting what God allows.
“In the book of Jeremiah, it talks about God restoring the years that the locusts have eaten. He can move back through time and restore what was lost.”
His words were bubbling up in him, and their power affected me, because I know the painful challenges that produced them in my brother.
Many fathers are struggling with similar trials. Be encouraged this Father’s Day. You are noticed, appreciated, and needed. Don’t give up on being a daddy. Don’t ever.