5 Ways To Help Your Child Cope With Having An Absentee Father

Approximately 33 percent of American children live in a fatherless home. Some fathers live out of state but enjoy spending fun-filled summers and holiday breaks with their children. Other fathers show up every other weekend to pick up their kids for a couple days of quality bonding time. Unfortunately, there are also some fathers who don't show up for weekends, holidays, summer vacation -- or any time at all -- with their children.

Coping with a father who has limited visitation time isn't easy, but what if your child's father isn't in the picture at all? It can be difficult for a child who has an absent father to thrive, as research shows that kids with actively involved fathers are more likely to be confident, intelligent, and drug-free. If your child's father isn't around, it's important to take steps to make the situation less stressful. Here are a few ideas to try. 

Find a Father Figure

There's no substitute for a dad, but a replacement father figure may have some benefits. No formal studies have been done on the effects that father figures have on children, but providing your child with a father figure may have a positive impact on your child's emotional well being. A father figure can reassure your child that he or she is worthy of receiving love, as well as provide a sense of security by sticking to a regular visitation schedule. Here are a few activities that a father figure can do with your child:

  • Attend Boy Scout or Girl Scout meetings 
  • Cheer your child on during sporting events
  • Teach your child how to do important things, such as catch a ball or ride a bike
  • Accompany your daughter to father-daughter dances

When you choose a father figure, pick someone who is dependable and compassionate. You want your child to feel comfortable with this individual, and you should also feel comfortable knowing that your child is under this person's care during an outing. Consider asking a family member, such as a brother or uncle, to step in and help fill the absent parent's shoes. You may also want to consider a coworker, close friend, or member of your church. 

Encourage Involvement in Sports

What does your child do after school and on the weekends? Have you considered signing your child up for soccer, volleyball, basketball, or another sport? There are numerous benefits associated with sports, some of which are clinically proven. Playing sports is good for your child's self esteem, and it also provides a distraction from the fact that dad isn't around. 

If your child isn't interested in joining a sports team, consider other options. A budding artist may enjoy a painting or pottery class, while a rockstar-in-training may have a blast auditioning for musicals or learning to play the guitar. If funds are tight, look for free after-school activities at your child's educational facility or ask local businesses if any recreational scholarships are available. 

Schedule Regular Sessions with a Children's Counselor 

No matter how hard you try to make up for the fact that your child's father isn't around, there might still be times when you feel like nothing you do is good enough. It's hard for one person to play the role of two parents, and you may worry that your child is unhappy. Rather than pressuring your child to discuss his or her thoughts about the situation, consider letting an expert at a children's counseling center help. 

Even if your child seems fine, you may still want to take them to see a counselor. Some children hide things to keep adults from worrying, and your child may have quite a bit to discuss with a neutral third party. A licensed counselor can listen to your child's thoughts and concerns -- as well as your own -- and provide a safe, confidential place for your child to share what's going on. 

As a mother, it's natural to want your child to be happy. Unfortunately, there are some things you can't always control, such as whether your child's father remains in the picture. Do your best to let your child know they are loved, and don't hesitate to seek professional assistance if you notice your child is struggling emotionally.