There are three ways to use the new PKR:
Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!
Just last week I got letters from two worried fathers who had not been in their children’s lives for some time. One had been in the military for a year. The other had been in prison for several years. Both men were concerned that their children would not remember them and asked me what they could do to make their return as easy as possible for the children.
Even though these men are very different, the guide for re-entry into a child’s life is pretty much the same. The father who has been in prison may or may not be coming back as an in-home daddy. But in both cases the mother has a key role to play in preparing the child for what is going to happen.
Obviously it is optimal for a child to have two parents and two sets of grandparents who absolutely, positively, and unconditionally love the child and are around to show it. But life has a way of interfering with what’s optimal so we have to adjust.
It goes without saying that if you love a child but are out of that child’s life for a spell you have to keep in touch. Photos, letters, email, videos–whatever is possible and as often as possible.
It’s also a good idea to let the children know ahead of time when the re-entry will occur to give the child a chance to think about what is going to happen.
As for the re-entry itself the main points are:
1) Go SLOW. If the child is unlikely to remember you let the child come to you. Don’t overwhelm the child with hugs and kisses or big presents. The child may know, “This is my father.” but the face he or she sees is that of a stranger. Even if the child is familiar with your face from videos, interacting with your whole person right there may be scary. So give the child plenty of time to get acquainted. Let the child adjust to this new life with Daddy. Don’t ever force a child to hug you or sit on your lap.
2) Keep the first few interactive contact times SHORT to give the child a chance to process feelings about you. Let the child play while you keep busy or rest nearby. While children play they think about what is happening in their lives.
3) Be as STEADY a presence in your child’s life as possible. Children learn quite early that people come and go out of your sight, your room, your day. My kids made up a little ditty that they sang when we were leaving or coming back: “Mommy, Daddy, all gone bye-bye! Mommy, Daddy all come home!” The child who had not seen his or her father in quite some time needs to realize that you are back to stay.
The mother’s help is needed in all these re-entry efforts. Don’t get upset if the child runs to Mommy when you appear on the scene. Repeat to yourself, “Slow, short, and steady.”
By the way, These ideas also work for distant grandparents who only can visit occasionally.
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