If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know I identify as a “Fatherless Daughter.” The lessons I learned in the healing have allowed me to be an advocate for several fathers who were estranged from their child for no good reason that I could see. Helping them to assert their rights and heal the parent-child relationship was rewarding if only emotionally. After all, I knew what it was like to be without a father; I didn’t want any child to be fatherless. In the process, I also learned that the father-child bond is just as important as the mother-child bond. Different, yes, but equally important, from my perspective.
As always, I want to be clear that the physical and emotional well-being of a minor child is the number one priority when I am talking about or helping to get father and child together. If a father puts the physical or emotional safety of the child at risk, my articles are NOT for that family.
I’m writing this today because I know of a good man whose heart is aching as he is missing his young adult daughter. I do not know her reasons for refusing to communicate and visit with him but I do know that his situation and resulting grief is common. Maybe you or someone you know is hurting for a similar reason.
One of the most important ways a father can stay emotionally connected to his child when they are separated is to keep a notebook of letters to your child. Buy one journal or nicer quality spiral notebook and write in it every time you think of your child, or at the end of each day, recalling your thoughts from the day. This works for young children, teens, and adult children.
Keep it age- and ability-appropriate for your child, as if they will actually read it. Be thoughtful with your language, handwriting (cursive versus printing), and subject matter. Add scrapbook items, sketchings, or photos as you feel they are relevant to the relationship or the child’s interest.
Never speak ill of the other parent or other family members, especially not in writing to a minor. If you have something honestly bad to say, then you may be better off seeking legal counsel as well as a professional, licensed counselor.
Keep the notebook of letters to your child. Be sure to date each entry and to begin each entry with a salutation and the child’s name. This may not be a good time to use what was a term of endearment.
If you have the child’s mailing address and you are not legally restricted, send your child a greeting card for special occasions and once a month or so. If you are writing to a young child, be sensitive to who else may read the card.
I do not recommend mailing the journal; that is something to share with the child in person when the child is old enough to understand. When you share it is your decision, but be mindful. Personally, I would want to photocopy the content and save it digitally before handing over the hard copy of the journal.
An alternative to this is to open a new email account with the intention of turning it over to your child. Instead of writing a letter to your child in your notebook, write the same type of letter to your child and send it from your personal email account to the new account you establish for your child.
If my father had sent me a greeting card now and then or called me on my birthday, chances are the whole dynamic of our limited relationship would have been different.
The following video is by psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson. She has a gentle voice and clear message of self-care for the parent who is estranged. I’m not affiliated with her but I like her style and message.
You may also like this from Pete Cataldo on Why All Dads Should Keep a Journal: The Importance of Journaling and How to Get Started
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Getty Images