How To Be a Father When You’re Not Physically Present

parenting May 01, 2023
How To Be a Father When You’re Not Physically Present

Parenthood is undeniably challenging, but some parents face an additional hurdle — long-distance parenting. Whether due to military service, work requirements, or other circumstances, being physically separated from a child presents unique difficulties.

While nothing can replace the presence of an actively involved father, there are some steps you can take to stay connected with your child even when you’re far away:

Schedule Phone Calls

Phone calls may seem outdated to younger generations, but they hold immense power. Your voice conveys emotions and sentiments that writing cannot capture.

Regular phone conversations, even about ordinary topics, help your child feel cherished and remembered. Schedule a weekly phone call as a starting point to stay connected, but encourage your child to reach out whenever they need or want to talk.

Let your child know that you are always ready to listen and support them, considering any time differences or work obligations. Be patient and understanding as they open up, and remind them that you are always there for them.

Mix It Up With Video Calls

Seeing your face on a screen amplifies the connection with your child, especially if you are working away from the child, such as a medical or military parent. With video calls, your child can virtually be with you on special occasions like birthdays and milestones.

Video calls allow for eye contact and the observation of body language, fostering a sense of closeness and reassurance. Even with a limited time frame, it’s important to make the most of your video calls.

Put in the extra effort to talk about daily life and ask questions about what’s going on at school or home. Try playing games like 20 Questions or I Spy to connect with your child and make them laugh.

Take advantage of free video calling apps and software available today to maintain regular video communication.

Use Social Media as a Tool

While social media has its drawbacks, it can facilitate communication between long-distance parents and their children. It can be used to share photos and videos, enabling children to keep seeing their dad even when they’re not together.

It can also provide an opportunity for parents to stay in touch with each other regarding the child’s progress and activities. Be aware of the platforms your child prefers, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, for younger demographics.

If your child is old enough to join social media, let them know that you will follow and engage with them there. Monitoring their social media activity can help you stay informed and connected.

Play Games Together

Online gaming offers an exciting way to bond and have fun with your child, regardless of the distance. Explore a wide range of online games suitable for different age groups, from classic board games like chess, checkers, and Scrabble to trendy social games.

Even if you are not physically there, playing games together online is an excellent way to stay close with your children. You can encourage them to think creatively, solve problems, and hone their strategic skills while enjoying quality time together.

Engaging in gaming sessions can help your child feel more comfortable with you, fostering open and heartfelt conversations. This will make them feel as if you are present in their life even though you aren’t physically there.

Record Video or Voice Clips

When you cannot be present for significant events or holidays, recording video or voice messages is a thoughtful alternative. It’s the next best thing to being there in person, and your children will appreciate the effort. It’s also a great way to keep in touch on a regular basis.

Use your phone or tablet to easily create these recordings, saving them for future playback. Consider incorporating voice recordings into a stuffed animal for your child, associating your voice with comfort and security.

For newborns or toddlers, voice recordings and videos can help them recognize you more easily when you are reunited. When recording, talk to them like you would in person — share stories or memories that will make them laugh and feel loved no matter how far apart you are.

Recording special messages for birthdays and important milestones strengthens the emotional bond and makes your child feel closer to you.

Try Shared Calendars

Sharing calendars is a convenient and adorable way to stay connected, especially if your child attends school regularly. Utilize apps like Google Calendar or iCloud Calendar to share events and day-to-day activities with each other.

It’s especially important to be aware of each other’s schedules and make sure that communication about any changes is clear. That way, you can plan time together whether it’s a virtual lunch date or just sharing stories over the phone.

Encourage your child to fill up their calendar with their own plans, and do the same for yours. Knowing what excites your child and sharing your own activities provides ample conversation topics during calls or video chats.

Leave short and sweet messages on the calendar itself, offering encouragement or sharing a smile to brighten their day. Leaving little surprises like pictures or quotes can be fun too. With a shared calendar, you can still be part of your child’s day-to-day life even if you are not physically present.


Long-distance parenting presents its challenges, but with determination and prioritization, you can maintain a strong connection with your child. Whether through regular phone calls, engaging video chats, social media interaction, online gaming, recorded messages, or shared calendars, you can bridge the physical distance and nurture a meaningful relationship with your child.

Sowing the effort today can reap a strong bond into the future. Remember, your current setup is only temporary; strive to make the most of it, and your child will be sure to benefit. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way to stay connected.

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