Here are several ways you can be "with" your child when you can't
be physically present.
- Tape record a loving holiday message, listing the ten best things
you love about your son or daughter.
- Leave a series of loving messages on your child's answering machine.
- Buy some clay; make your son or daughter a statue (however inept)
of a pet gerbil they cherish, the dreamed of horse you can't afford,
or any memento of a special time you've shared.
- Hide post-it notes around your child's room, each one with a different
appreciation message. Number the post-its, putting the first ones in
easy places, making the hints as to where to find the next ones tougher
and tougher; have a small gift at the end of the trail.
- Tape a song from you about the relationship between you and your
child. Make it funny (e.g., give yourself a "take-off" name
of a group or artist [Me2; Yo Yo Pa]; make it self-effacing (if you
can't sing, make a joke out of it). Put the tape in a player your child
can use in private to reduce his or her embarrassment factor (and yours).
- Email an egreeting card (e.g., eGreetings, Blue Mountain). Choose
cards that reflect your child's interests.
- If you've got the courage, send three "Truth or Dare" cards
to your child. Begin each card with a "dare" statement --
inviting your child to fill in the "truth" and send the card
back to you. "Dear Dad, What I dare you to understand about me
is..."; "Dear Dad, What I dare you to apologize about is...';
"Dear Dad, I dare you to listen to this..." Your gift to your
child is your 100% assurance that she or he will receive no response
except thank you.
- Do a video of yourself, showing your son or daughter your favorite
memorabilia from their childhood (a soccer uniform, a trophy) and share
what each memory means to you.
- Create an album for each child reflecting the activities you shared
all year. Make this an annual tradition.
- Create your own greeting cards and send two or three to your child
-- one sentimental, one funny, one outrageous. Don't enclose money --
keep the child focused on the sentiment attached!
- Send five "opinion emails," asking your child her or his
"My favorite movie is _____ because _____"
"My favorite animal is _____ because _____"
"I like it best when mom _____"
"A good teacher is a teacher who _____"
"The best sport is _____"
"I like/dislike church because _____"
- Have a photo of you and your child reproduced on a mouse pad. That
way he or she will be running their hands and eyes over it every day.
The dad who does this gives the greatest gift. The gift of seeing her
or his dad as a giver of time and love, not just money.
The above, courtesy of Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
Dr. Warren Farrell's M.A. and Ph.D. are in political science (UCLA;
NYU). He is the author of many books, including Father
and Child Reunion (2001), Women Can't Hear What Men Don't
Say (a Book-of-the-Month Club selection), and two award-winning
international best-sellers, Why Men Are The Way They Are plus The Myth of Male Power.
Published in over 50 countries and in 11 languages, his books
create links between self-help and legislative solutions to
male-female and family problems such as the disenfranchisement
of dads after divorce.
Dr. Farrell has taught at the School of Medicine at the University
of California in San Diego, as well as at Georgetown University,
Rutgers, Brooklyn College, American University, and the California
School of Professional Psychology. He has taught in political
science, psychology, sociology, sexual politics, and public
administration. He does expert witness work to assure children
of divorce both parents.
The Financial Times of London has selected Dr. Farrell as one of the
world's top 100 "Thought Leaders." He has consulted with many
Fortune 500 companies, as well as with NASA, the US Departments of Energy,
Education and HUD.