Father’s Day when Dad is Far Away

One of the challenges of our times is maintaining close ties with our children when we are not in the home. This is not only a challenge for the non-custodial parent, but also for the children who have limited access and interaction with the parent who is not their primary care giver.

With Father’s Day approaching, here are a few gift ideas that the kids can consider to acknowledge and honor fathers who are not in the home.

TELL HIM ABOUT YOUR LIFE

A father who is not in the home always has questions about how his children are doing on a day-to-day basis. There is no dinner table to sit around and catch up on what the child is thinking, how the day went, and what other matters may be on the child’s mind. To help fill that gap, offer your father the gift of a weekly contact. If at all possible, this contact should be in an interactive form, such as a telephone conversation or an Internet chat. Should those forms of interaction not be practical, then commit to a weekly letter or email.

Use the contact to keep your father aware of what is going on in your life, and to also catch up with what your father is doing. Remember, even the details that seem to be boring to you – what you made on your history exam or how you are doing in English, or some new friend you have made – will not be boring to your father. Every bit of information you share helps him be a part of your life, even if he lives a thousand miles away.

ACKNOWLEDGE A SHARED HOBBY OR INTEREST

If both you and your father enjoy a common activity, such as camping or baseball, your gift can have some connection to this shared interest. Get your dad a baseball cap from a team you both support, or a team that is based in the area where you live.

PICTURES ARE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS – OR MILES

Pictures and collages can be a welcome gift for the non-custodial dad. Utilizing a simple frame from a discount shop, the child can assemble a collage of snapshots, printer copies of report cards, stickers, a drawing or sketch, and just about anything else that the child can come up with. When it comes to the pictures, try to use snapshots that show the child in their own environment, such as school or their bedroom. The posed school shots or those done in a photographer’s studio are okay, but a simple picture taken at home gives the father a more complete image of how his child is living and doing.

HOME MADE GIFTS ARE GREAT TOO

Nothing can express love better than a small collection of stories, drawings, poems, or even a journal kept for the month leading up to Father’s Day. For the father who lives far away, this can be an especially memorable gift, one that he can pick up and read through whenever he feels the need to connect with his children, but circumstances prevent him from contacting them right that minute. The collection does not have to be expensively bound; simple notebook or typing paper will do, placed into a simple three-ring folder or binder. If a binder is used, consider using one that has a clear sleeve on the cover, so the child can name the book and also autograph it.

A card made by the child will also be cherished. Let the imagination run wild; the card can say anything the child wants to say, and have drawings or other art that he or she believes the father would enjoy.

Children of non-custodial fathers should always remember that just because he is not in the house does not mean he cares any less. What you are thinking, what you are doing, and how you feel is just as important to him as any live-in dad. Share your interests, your ideas, and your life with him, and he will have a happy Father’s Day.

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