I’m going to
talk from personal experience here, and primarily from a non-custodial
standpoint. That is not to say what I write here doesn’t apply to primary
custodial fathers, because it does too; but I want to emphasize that the
majority (83%) of the time moms will be the primary caregiver in single parent
homes. Thus, it is easy for a father to be viewed by himself and others as the
“other” or “second” parent.

Since my
daughter’s birth her mom has always had primary physical custody. I often felt
pushed aside, not kept in the loop, and as an outsider looking in. The truth
then is the same as it is now: I will always be my daughter’s father, and my
involvement in her life carries great weight (as does yours in your children’s
lives). Not recognizing our significance in the lives of our children can
originally stem from a variety of previous experiences including lack of
knowledge of how children
with/without fathers do overall academically, socially, and emotionally
listening to the lies of others and allowing that to dictate our thoughts and
self-perception, and low self-esteem to begin with.  

If this is
news to you, let me offer some insight as to how to break free from this trap.
I am not saying this will change everything significant regarding your
parenting time and/or current situation, but it will surely help you grow as a
man and father. With that, who knows what else may come out of it!

Start out by
staying connected and engaged with your kids as much as you can. Use the time you
have to really build solid relationships and quality time. During the days you
don’t have them, use some creativity to surprise them with things like new
decorations in their room, a make-over of the house…something kid-friendly like a
fort or game you all can play. Or my personal favorite: start a journal for
them filled with the memories you all spend together and the way you miss them
and love them when they’re gone (this is a great gift to give them when they
are young adults!). I also highly recommend investing in yourself regularly through
spending time with God in prayer and the Word. Draw near to God and He will
draw near to you (James 4:8).

As the years
and different phases of life pass, continue building on the relationship with
your children, noting the impacts you are making along the way. Acquire a
mentor and have him help you set life goals for you and the kids- such as a
rite of passage, identifying their spiritual gifts, and continuing/beginning
new traditions. Stand firm on the words of Joshua, “As for me and my house, we
will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15) and make that a continual priority. Stay
faithful and watch how God shows up in the lives of you and your children.
Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is
God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations
with those who love Him and keep His commandments
–Deut 7:9 (NKJV)