An Open Letter To Long-Distance Dads

I was fortunate enough to have been sent a very nice email recently from another long-distance dad. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he had to move away from his kids after a divorce from his wife. He looked online to find a support group for dads like himself and ended up finding my blog.

I wrote him back to tell him my story since moving to be with Sunshine. I’ve thought about it and have decided to share it here…on the off-chance that other long-distance dads can know that there is some positive that can come from the negatives of only being with your children part of the time.

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First, let me thank you for the email. It’s nice not only knowing that somebody reads the blog, but ACTUALLY reads it and can relate to it.

Ankle Biter with a winning smileThis whole scenario has been made much easier due to the fact that I was already in a long-distance relationship with my (now) wife. Every two weeks for almost four years, I drove 2 1/2 hours on a Friday and then another 2 1/2 hours back on a Sunday…just to keep the relationship going. Even though it became routine, I thought that a decision had to be made in terms of marriage. Once that decision was made, I had to decide if I was willing to continue doing the long-distance relationship thing or if I could be a part-time long-distance dad, instead (where I had already lost a lot of my daughter’s life by letting her mom move away, I was very hesitant to make a decision).

I talked to my son and my ex-wife initially, because I didn’t want to make this decision on my own and potentially ruin the relationships I had with both of them. My ex actually was surprised I had taken so long to make the decision. My son was quite happy for me and said it was okay to move. We video-chat a couple times a week along with the every-other-weekend visit we share, so he was okay with that. I never would have moved if he was uncomfortable with it.

My "other" girlsHonestly? I’ve received very little negative feedback about this decision. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that my son and I continue to have a good relationship and I’m always there for him whenever he needs me. There are a LOT of deadbeat dads out there, so I think the fact that you and I are men who are sacrificing a lot of our time and money just to continue being the best dads that we can be means a lot to other people. Our kids will absolutely LOVE us as they get older and hear horror stories from other children of divorce (I know my daughter and step-daughters have already) because they’ll appreciate what we did to remain in their lives as much as possible.

What you and I do is a new way of parenting, I think. It’s not optimal, obviously…but it’s how we deal with reality.

July sisters meetI also think it gets easier as the kids get older. I actually have a great relationship with my daughter in Ontario because we chat on Facebook, we text, and we email each other quite a bit. She visits once year during the summer (or more if economics are favourable) and we get along better now than we ever did. She just turned 15…an age where rebellion is the norm…yet here we are chatting and laughing and being father & daughter.

I never would have thought that it would turn out this way. I never even wanted kids…but here I am, a father and step-father to a total of five incredible children. None of them live full-time with me, yet I don’t think it really hurts our relationships very much. A little bit? Sure. My son and I could have a relationship that’s a lot closer than it is now…but it’s still a pretty darn good one. And again, I’d like to think that the kids will all appreciate what I’ve done to remain in their lives as time goes on.

Thanks again for the email. I hope things are working out for you as they are for me.

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