Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of a father’s relationship with his children. A father can be a constant parental figure, even if he doesn’t reside in the same household. No matter the circumstance of a separation or divorce, successful coparenting can give children a sense of normalcy. Children need both of their parents, and research shows that a loving and nurturing father improves outcomes for children, and ultimately families and communities.
My mother and father divorced when I was just one year old. Although I was young, none of my memories of their
interactions are negative. In fact, my parents were the perfect model of successful coparenting. My mother valued my father’s role as a parent and understood that his presence was just as important as hers. My sister and I would spend weekends with my father and although we didn’t always go anywhere, we were just happy to be with him. He was our constant and that means a lot to a child. But it doesn’t only mean a lot to a child, it also means the world to a father.
My mother’s job required us to travel overseas for years at a time. I will never forget the weekend my sister and I spent with our father, days before we were scheduled to travel to Africa. I was riding in the front seat when he stopped the car, grabbed my hand, and just cried. I was about seven years old at the time.
I was confused at first and didn’t really know what to do. I had never seen my father cry before. That’s when I knew that my father not only loved us, but he was really going to miss us and didn’t want to see us go.
Although we were many miles away from my father, I never felt his absence. He wrote us letters and sent us things like videos and toys. He stayed connected to us. He was consistent and he didn’t let a lot of time pass between communicating with us.
As I reflect on my childhood, I realize that my parents maintained a healthy coparenting relationship and kept my sister and me in mind. They put aside their differences to ensure that we had a sense of normalcy. The best gift that parents can give to their children is the gift of seeing a healthy relationship.