ISSUES OF LIFE: Helping Children Cope with Absentee Dads
Photo of a working Dad with his kid, the ideal picture, courtesy of Photobucket
The head of the family is the father. He exemplifies leadership in his children and helps complete their social and emotional structure. However, in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, there are families whose fathers are either physically absent or physically present but mentally and relationally absent. Many upper to middle class Dads are too busy with securing the financial needs of his family that he tends to neglect his responsibility as a father to the point of not having a relationship with his kids at all. We have already emphasized the importance of spending quantity and quality time with our children. But there are many reasons why there are Dads who are physically absent--one is he may already be with the Lord; second, the Dad doesn't want to assume his responsibility as a father; third, broken families or multi-families (the Dad has many families); fourth, bearing a child out of wedlock or as a consequence of teen pregnancy; fifth, the father is abroad working; sixth, simply, he doesn't know he is a Dad or the mother just want to raise her kid on her own. In whatever case, the mother is left to the care of the children assuming the role of both mother and father.
The family on the left is complete with the Dad, but the family on the right is without a Dad. It looks that both families are happy.
So, how does she help her kids cope without a father? I believe it's simple--she gives them all the love she can give in spite of the fact that she also has to provide for the family's financial needs. She assumes leadership of the family and leads her children into the family values that she wants to instill in them. She tries to go to her son's ballgames and other sports activities and asks her brother or her own father to escort her daughter to a father-daughter affair. I believe that it is always a good thing to assure the kids that their father loves them and that he would be around if he could, however, it is also wise to tell them the truth which could hurt at first but this would eventually make them stronger emotionally. Some women tend to look for a partner who would become a father-figure to her children, however, some of these partnerships or relationships fail and actually provide more pain to the kids especially with an abusive partner. It is already confusing to the kids when their parents are separated and they would have to spend some short time with their Dads, how much more with a third party involved.
The fact remains that textbook guides on helping kids cope with absentee fathers are not guaranteed to work because each situation is different and each individual child differs in personality. Nevertheless, mothers in this situation have made it their main goal to give their children the best of themselves in order to compensate for the lack of a father and as a result, many children with absentee fathers have turned out alright.