In this article I want to talk about the struggles of being an ‘every other weekend Dad’. The guilt that comes with it & the mindset required to be able to cope.
Say hello to my two boys, Jake & Ben. They are typical brothers, always bickering & fighting, never agreeing to anything and blaming each other for everything! Deep down they love each other dearly (although they would never admit it). They are both caring, funny & full of energy. Typical young boys.
We take for granted the everyday, seemingly insignificant stuff. I know I certainly did. It’s not until you’re not involved with the everyday upbringing of your kids that ‘stuff’ suddenly becomes massively important. If you think about it, parenting is a culmination of all those little moments that happen every single day.
Things I miss that I used to take for granted:
- Cleaning up after them
- Getting them to brush their teeth
- Arguing with them
- Reading a bedtime story every night
- Comforting them when they hurt themselves
- Cuddles (obviously)
- Seeing their faces first thing in the morning
- Kissing their forehead goodnight
- Play fighting
- Hearing their voices everyday
- Hearing the phrase ‘fine’ or ‘ok’ when I ask them how school was
- Cooking them dinner
- This list could go on and on…
‘A good Dad starts with presence, not presents’
This doesn’t have to be taken literally, you can be present without being physically there with your children.
But the biggest thing I miss…? Being a Dad to them. I know what you’re thinking ‘You are still their Dad’. And I agree, I am. But please think about what it means to be a Dad.
I believe that a Dad should:
- Be physically present in their kids lives
- Protect them
- Comfort them
- Teach them right & wrong
- Play with them
- Be emotionally invested in their well-being
- Be able to listen to their jokes, their stories & even their whining!
- Be a positive role model by instilling a good moral compass
So how can I ‘be their Dad’ when I can’t do a lot of the above list? Well, actually I can, just in a different way. I’ve had to adapt. Yes, I can’t physically be there with them everyday but I can be there with them in their thoughts & actions. When I spend time with them it’s important to create memories, instill morals, laugh, play, have fun, read to them, cook for them, tell them off, help them with homework etc etc…because they will keep those things with them in the days we are not together.
And we have the technology to keep in touch as well. We can facetime whenever we want, text or call each other. It’s not the same but the interaction is still important. Although, I am a typical guy when it comes to talking on the phone, I’m not exactly chatty! The boys are the same so our conversations are normally quite quick and to the point. But that doesn’t matter, it’s just the way we are. It’s the fact we’ve spoken, that’s the main thing.
So do I feel guilty for not being there everyday? YES! All the time to be honest! But I’d be more worried if I didn’t. I’ve just learnt to accept that, as a parent, we feel guilt, whether that’s a stay at home parent, or an every other weekend Dad, we all feel guilt at some point. It differs from parent to parent and can be due to so many areas of parenthood, but it’s there. I guess it comes down to expectation…
‘In whatever situation we are in we can only do our very best’
We all have different situations to deal with, different experiences & home lives and those situations may change for the better or worse, but we can only do our best in whatever that situation maybe. And if we love and care for our kids and they are happy & content, even in seemingly hard times, then we are doing a pretty good job. So yes, I may feel guilty I can’t be there everyday for my boys but I can see that they are happy so that makes me feel like I’m doing the best job I can.
Kids are resilient and can generally adapt well to life’s ups & downs, as long as they are loved and cared for the outcome tends to be a positive one.
It’s taken time & effort but now we are in a routine we have accepted our current situation and we are all happy. It will change as the boys get older but we will adapt again. The situation rarely stays still but the love & support should always be there.