Getting back into your children’s life after you have been estranged from them for some time can be very difficult. So much time has passed by that you feel a bit uncertain and apprehensive about re-entering your child’s life. You even find yourself questioning whether or not you should enter it. If you are at the point in your life where you can remain a constant figure in their lives then you should go forward with it and attempt to meet them. If you know for a fact that you will not be able to see your child in a consistent manner then it might be best for the both of you if you did not enter your child’s life. It is a known fact that it is better for the parent to stay out of the child’s life if he can not remain consistent. It is very damaging for a child to be continuously disappointed by the other parent not showing up when scheduled to.
You must note that every dad’s situation for leaving is different and maybe you left because you couldn’t deal with the pressure, or maybe you just could not deal with your partner. Whatever the reason is that caused you to miss out on crucial time with your child; you should not continue to beat yourself up over it. You must think positively from here on.
Before you attempt to reenter your child’s life you should first contact the mother. This might be very difficult. You should not expect the mother to welcome you with open arms. She might feel a great deal of resentment towards you for not being there. She might tear your head off but you should remain calm. You should briefly apologize and then tell her that you would like to meet with her because you want to get back into your child’s life. You should expect to hear more ranting and anger. If the mother does not agree with you seeing your child or with you meeting her, give her about 3 days to cool off and call her back. You might have to keep doing this until she gives in.
Have a tension breaking meeting. Meet her alone (without the child) that is if she agrees to meet with you. You want to take this time to momentarily settle your differences. You should explain to her why you left, what you have been doing and what you plan to do (as far as getting involved in your child’s life.) It is important that you show a bit of compassion towards her so that she sees that you are truly sorry for your absence. At the end of the meeting, see if she would be willing to meet you again. If she agrees to meet with you again, ask her to bring pictures of your child and you should prepare to bring a picture of yourself.
Have a catching up meeting. At this meeting ask questions about your child. Find out what your child likes to do for fun, what he likes to eat, what his favorite color is — Apologize again for leaving and tell her how lovely your kid is. It is important to show compassion even if you feel that it is not warranted. Remember that you want to get on the mom’s good side. You want her to see that you care about your child and want to make up for lost time. During the end of the meeting give her your picture to give to your child so that the child has something tangible to hold onto and will help him to recognize you later on. Ask her to show your picture to the child and then ask her if it would be okay if you met with your child. She might not give you an answer right there. If she does not give you an answer tell her to give you a call if she agrees. If it has been more than a month and she has not called you, you should call her once a week to ask her about meeting with your child. During this time see if she would be willing to let you call and speak to your child over the phone. Speaking to your child over the phone will allow him to become familiar with your voice and will lessen the shock of meeting you.
Meet with your child. You should have the meeting at a place your child feels the most comfortable such as his home, a park, or an entertainment facility. If your child has never met you before then you should approach him as a friend. This means that you should just start talking to him about simple subjects such as colors, favorite animals, foods, television shows, school etc — You can let him know that you are his dad. If your child has seen you before and still remembers you then you can offer him/her a hug and tell him/her that you missed her.
You should continue to meet with your child at least once a week. If the child is small the meetings should not exceed 30 minutes. It is important that you show up when you say you are going to. You want to show your child that you will be there for him.
As the meetings increase you will find that you and your child feel more comfortable around each other. You might find yourself attending school plays and sharing holidays. The key to entering your child’s life is to take it slow. You should take it step by step and follow the lead of the mother.
If the mother refuses to allow you to meet your child (for no reason at all) you can take her to court and file a motion for visitation. However, if this can be worked outside of court, I would advise you to stay out of court. Attending court can be a long drawn out, and stressful process. It is commendable that you want to take part in your child’s life. Children are very forgiving and will look to you for support and love. You should be sure to remain a consistent and positive role model in your child’s life.