I tasted a bit of the life of a father who is cut off from his kids. I’ve been away from my kids since July 9th of this year. The last time I saw them was in the middle of August, and that was only for about five hours.
It is the beginning of November as of the writing of this post.
My separation was voluntary. I accepted a short term job offer on the other side of the country with the expectation that making this sacrifice now will lead to longer term employment down the road. As it stands now, I have no idea if this was the right move. What I do know is that I’ll never choose to be away from my kids for this long again.
The father who has fewer options and is separated from his kids due to a vindictive mother and/or the family court system has it worse than I do. My pain is self inflicted. I can only imagine how awful it is to know that the court system forced them away from their own flesh and blood.
It truly is a miserable experience being away from my children. I do not recommend being apart from your kids for work reasons for long. It’s just not worth the money most of the time.
I know for a fact that my children need me to be there for them. I’m missing out on months of their school year. I’m missing out on seeing them transition to new schools, meeting their new friends, new teachers, and new experiences. I can’t answer the questions they might have, address their concerns about schoolwork, engage with them regarding their thoughts about current events. I’m not able to fully engage because I’m not there. Being on the phone and speaking to them is one thing, connecting through video chat is another. Being face to face is a whole other ballgame.
It’s important for fathers to be present in a child’s every day life. They need our guidance, perspective and protection. The post-divorce model of “every other weekend” dad just doesn’t cut it. It is incredibly inadequate and doesn’t provide the necessary balance a child needs in their formative years.
Attempts at remote parenting are futile. Trying to stay close by chatting on the phone is similar to having a long distance relationship. It might work for some, but just imagine if you could only see your partner every other weekend? How close do you think you could actually be in the long run? Would you want a husband or wife if you could only see them this way for 18 years?
I’m glad I have the option of being away from my kids and not being forcibly removed. I won’t make this decision ever again. Most divorced fathers don’t get this opportunity. The feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming at times. Not being able to have a physical as well as spiritual connection is demoralizing and dispiriting.
I’m no longer choosing the remote parent model. I’m sticking close to my kids and watching them grow up up close.
Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.