I am the father of seven wonderful children,four from a previous marriage (3 boys and 1 girl) and three boys from my present marriage. During my 1st marriage, I would wrestle with thoughts of falling short as a father, and going through a divorce only amplified those feelings. I cried myself to sleep many nights, and after dropping off the older children at their mother's house after my times of visitation, I would not be able to go straight home and face the pain of no children to greet me.
I can understand why some non-custodial fathers move away from their children - not because they do not love their children, but because of the pain and the emotional roller coaster they go through. It is their way of dealing with their pain, or should I say their way of not dealing with it. I do not agree with this action, but I can understand their motivation.
In order to stay close to my children and remain involved in their lives, I turned down several promotional opportunities with my employer that would have moved me away from my children. After buying a home in the same school district as my older children and attempting to gain joint custody of my older children, my ex-wife moved to a small town 45 minutes away. At the time of this move, my older children were aged 7 - 13. Even though it was not that far away, it prevented joint custody from becoming possible and made it more difficult to see my children as often, especially their school activities.
Six years later, my ex-wife moved 7 hrs away with the two youngest of the older children who were aged 13 & 12 (I live in Iowa and they moved to Indiana ). My oldest son had graduated from high school & the next oldest son lived with his best friend to finish his senior year. I was then only able to see my two children in Indiana one weekend a month and due to the children's school schedules there were some months where I do not get to see them at all unless I drove to Indiana and rent a hotel room for the weekend. I have missed out on their 1st dates, seeing them dress up as they go to events such as Homecoming and Prom, and seeing them compete in athletic events. Not only has it made it difficult for me to maintain a relationship with my older children, but my three little boys sure miss their older siblings.
I have kept in contact via phone calls and emails, driving to Indiana a few times a year to watch them compete in a few track and cross country meets, and my regular scheduled visitations.
Through all of this, my older children have turned out wonderful. My oldest son joined the military immediately following 9-11, and saw combat with the 101st Airborne in both Afghanistan and Iraq before he received an honorable medical discharge for a non-combat injury in Iraq . He is now married and pursuing a degree in criminal justice. My 2nd oldest son has lived with me for the past 3+ years while going to college and our relationship has grown. My 3rd oldest son graduated from high school last year with honors, is currently going through training to be an Army Ranger, and is planning on pursuing a medical degree after leaving the Army. My only daughter is in her junior year of high school, on the honor roll, and at this time is planning on becoming a pediatrician. They all love the Lord.
My two children who moved to Indiana have told me more than once that they have friends who have divorced parents and hardly, if ever see their fathers who live close by and are amazed when my children tell them that I drive to Indiana to see them. Even though I have not been able to see my older children as frequently as I would like, my children and I are thankful for the relationship that we do have.
Keep up the good work and ministering to fathers such as myself.
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