I have to say that I have a special place in my heart for all the fathers I see randomly on the street who are actually spending quality time with their kids. Too many fathers are always placing the blame on something/someone other than themselves as to why they are not “able” to be the type of father they want to be to their kids. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not able to spend the type of time you would like to with your kids, such as living in a different city/state, there are definitely alternative ways to fill the void in their lives that is felt with your absence. Men need to stop making excuses for their lack of parenting and start thinking outside the box in order to let that child know, more importantly feel, that they are loved.
Let me preface this by saying that if you are one of those dudes where your child’s mother is just (‘scuse me) a bitter bitch who holds your child hostage until you come back to her, then just take her to court and get mandatory legal visitation. Then you can use these techniques.
Reach out and touch them
Most kids these days already have a cell phone they use for their personal calls. Therefore, your relationship with the mother has absolutely nothing to do with your keeping in touch with your child. Little things mean so much to these kids and simply picking up the phone and talking to them no less than once a week will let them know 1) that you are thinking of them often, and 2) that you care about how they are doing. Remember this does not have to be a meaningful conversation to you, but it has to be one for the child. Ask them what happened in school, their latest likes in music, what they ate for dinner, etc. You would be amazed at how boring small talk to an adult will yield animated conversation with a child of any age.
Watch a show together
Most kids have a favorite TV show or will learn to love a kid friendly show that you watch. This is a great outlet for quality time. Even if you are not in the same city as the child, you can promise to keep up with it and talk about it on the phone (see above). From the day that child was born you were made to sacrifice so even if the show is horrible, suck it up and learn to love it for the sake of the bigger picture. I can personally vouch for this method, as my daughter and I spend quality time at least once a week watching a show that has been mutually agreed upon. Granted, I don’t care much for the show, but she loves it, so I watch and pay attention. This also opens up the perfect time for discussions and teaching afterward that normally would be awkward to bring up such as social issues, feelings, and confidence. Pick a show, make a date and make it a priority. This is a “do not disturb” time for the two of you and the child should have your undivided attention. This means turn off the cell phone or make the call a short and sweet “I’m watching [fill in the blank] with my kid and I will call you in a bit”. Show the kid that this time together is more important than anything to you and it will mean the world to them.
Create something special between the two of you
Whether it’s some sort of hand shake, a phrase that you both say, or an inside joke, your kid will always remember it and cherish the memory well into their adulthood. Creating something that’s just between the two of you will let them know that they are special to you. Something like ending every conversation with, “I love you more” to their, “I love you” will stay with them for years. Taking the punchline of a joke on a movie that you both saw and applying it to your life while with them is another good way to bond. No matter what it is that you do, the point is to have something that only the two of you will understand and know.
Give them a gift on a non-holiday
All kids love gifts, and let’s face it, they all expect gifts on holidays, birthdays and special occasions. So getting a kid an “I was just thinking about you gift” will make them feel extremely special. I’m not talking about spoiling the child, but even something as simple as buying them a $5 gift card at the local Target or Walmart, will make them smile (note: if your child is already spoiled, $5 will never be enough). A little girl will love a stick of lipgloss or nail polish and a little boy would love an action figure or Nerf gun. And all children love money. Bring them something you know they will like and it will stay in their mind forever.
A lot of dads will tend to only spend quality time with their kids when it’s their “turn”. Don’t make this the norm. These kids see and feel that you only care about them when they are around, and the “out of sight, out of mind” feelings of insecurity rings true to them when it comes to you. On the contrary, if they know that you care about what’s going on in their lives then they will feel very secure in your feelings for them. If you truly want a relationship with your child then the process to getting there is priceless. Don’t underestimate their longing for your time, as any amount of time that you give them, as long as it is quality time, is seen by the child as golden.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.