This scenario occurs many times. A man has a child and then leaves, becomes an uninvolved and absent father. Then, after some time, he has a change of heart and wants to leave his absent father status behind.
But the child and her mother have a life, and bringing a formerly absent father into it may not seem to be worth the trouble, or the scars he left are still too real. Then the absent father gets mad or discouraged with the effort and stops trying to be involved.
But the problem with this scenario is that it robs the child of a potentially strengthening and beneficial relationship with his or her father, and makes it hard for him or her to have a positive father role model.
Even if it’s hard to reconnect with your child, it’s not impossible. An absent father should follow some guidelines when he wants to be a positive part of a child’s life after a long absence.
Get stable and show it. The lack of personal stability was probably a driving force behind a father abandoning his child from the outset.
Maybe it was fear of responsibility, lack of maturity, lack of money or just not being ready for a family. Whatever the case, lack of stability has to be resolved before a father can be a positive influence on his child’s life.
Make sure that you are current on the responsibilities that you do have, like child support, so that your involvement is more welcome by your child’s mother.
Communicate with your child’s mother. It can be really tough to reconnect with your child’s mother, but she is the gateway to the child. Express your desires openly and let her know how you have worked on your stability and personal responsibility.
If you have been an absent father and uninvolved for a long time, you will have a lot of learning to do about your child. Even as a father, you are coming back as a stranger. Be patient and learn all about your child.
Learn about what to expect of your child and what they are interested in. Find out about his or her life – school, friends, hobbies, favourite foods and toys. Putting your child first in the relationship and making it about him or her is an important step forward.
Meet in a safe environment. Remember that you are coming from a stranger position and you need to make sure that you meet in a safe place. There will be lots of suspicion about your motives, and it will be important to make your child and her mother feel safe and comfortable.
Don’t try to change your child’s world. Your child feels comfortable with what he or she knows. If your child has certain habits and rituals that they like, don’t try to change them. Just go with the flow and get comfortable together first before confronting issues that you might want to change.
Relationships of trust are built by making and keeping promises. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and stay true to the ones you make. The more honest you are and the more you make and keep realistic promises, the more rapidly your relationship with your child will develop.