I was 27 years old when, on my first day of teaching, I was presented with a class full of ten-year-old children. I remember thinking that I hadn’t seen or spoken to a ten-year-old since I was ten.

I felt equally inadequate a few years later when I was handed my firstborn child. My knowledge of what was required of me was limited to an understanding that this creature was a baby, and somehow had to be fed and kept clean.

From both experiences, I soon learnt that people have an innate capacity to rise to the occasion when confronted with something new. I also learnt to value the suggestions and advice of others.

As time went on, I also realised that sometimes it’s wise to rely on your own judgement and discernment, since advisors don’t always have a full understanding of one’s circumstances.

With that in mind, I thought I’d throw in a few ideas for non-custodial parents of very young children. In doing so, I am aware that these parents are nearly always fathers, and that their contact consists of ‘visits’ rather than an everyday involvement in their children’s lives.

  • Do a parenting course. It will probably be useful. These courses are often available through local churches.
  • Try to create in your home an environment that gives your child a sense of belonging rather than merely visiting. This can be done with a display of photographs, favourite toys, picture books, collections etc.
  • Measure your child’s height on the wall, or an architrave, and record the date. If you rent, then write the information on stickers and place in a ‘growing up’ scrapbook with other memorabilia.
  • Develop a sense of family through regular visits to close relatives.
  • During each visit, try to set aside a quiet ‘together time’ (not in front of the TV). Don’t fill every moment with activity.
  • Establish simple routines. This gives the child a sense of security and being cared for. It can also be used to help establish good habits, e.g. cleaning teeth, watering plants, washing hands before meals.
  • On each contact visit, plan to do at least one special activity that involves some degree of interaction between you, e.g. create an artwork by tracing the outline of your child’s hands and feet.
[Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels]
Published On: June 21st, 20041 CommentTags: , , , , , ,

About the Author: Roland Foster

Roland Foster is an non-custodial father, separated since 1997, with 5 young children aged between 6 and 14 years. Roland is a passionate father and an active social reformer who believes Australia's current laws are contributing to the creation of our fatherless society.

One Comment

  1. Kaylene Emery April 17, 2022 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you for posting this Roland, n for not letting the pain turn to bitterness n stop you from reaching out to other dads n mums.

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