Long Distance Father-Child Relationship

When considering the father’s role in attachment, it made me think of my relationship with my dad.  Ever since I was about 2 years-old, we have lived apart.  While he has been in Seattle, I (with my mom) have lived in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah.  Needless to say, it has almost always been a long-distance relationship with my dad.  Even though I have been able to physically see him only 3-4 times out of every year, we have always had a close relationship.  I can honestly call him my best friend and am never afraid to tell him anything.  I know he will always have my back no matter what the circumstances may be. 

Considering our relationship, I wanted to know what makes a long distance father-child relationship work.  Are there specific rules or keys to follow?

According to Daniel H. Swerdlow-Freed, Ph.D., “three major considerations are keys to maintaining a long distance father-child relationship: stability, comfort and security”.  Being that many fathers and children are able to see each other only a few times a year, talking on the phone can be extremely helpful in keeping a stable and close relationship.  Just the fact that the father knows of and is interested in the child’s day-to-day activities allows the child to understand that their father still loves and cares for them.  Some fathers even go to the length of buying their child a cell phone just so they can keep in contact anywhere.  “Maintaing a pattern of regular physical contact” is also very helpful (Swerdlow-Freed).  Parents working together to make that happen can enhance both relationships, especially with the father.  Comfort and security can also come from these phone calls and physical visits with the father.  Knowing about the father’s day or planning upcoming trips together can help the child feel comfortable and less upset about the breakup between parents. 


Marissa Hayes

~ by Marissa Hayes on September 27, 2009.

5 Responses to “Long Distance Father-Child Relationship”

  1. This sounds very accurate to how it would be for most people who are separated long distance from their parent(s). I have been exhibiting a long distance relationship with my dad since High School and by talking to him every couple weeks and visiting a couple times a year I am able to continue a strong relationship. I think that parent child relationships can be strong in many long distance or separated situations as long as their is a strong fundamental base. This base is what the child and parent built on since birth and whether they separate at 2 or at 18, if that base was strong, then the relationship can continue to be strong after the move.

    Reuben Cousin

  2. This also shows clearly that it is not how much time you spend with a child, it is the quality of that time. If the child knows dad “has his back” because of repeated times dad has come through, it doesn’t matter that dad is on the phone. Somewhere along the way if the parent proves themselves to the child the child never forgets it. It doesnt matter if this was done in short intervals or spending all day together. What matters is the parent proves himself/herself to the child.
    Jennifer Poulos

  3. I also have not been close in distance to my father or been able to see him frequently. I would not say my attachment to my father is secure. After reading your post I think a good reason for my insecure attachment with my father is because he never did try to keep in touch with me. He would not call me to talk to me, in fact he did not always want to see me. I feel better knowing that other kids out there can form secure attachments with long distance fathers!

  4. It has been a similar experience for me.. I feel that there is less responsibility involved as a parent when the child is not in the home or when the two are maintaining a long-distance relationship. Although for some this has been an effective attachment, I cannot say the same for my father and myself. As a child, he called on sundays, but as I got older that tradition faded out. He is a BUSY man, which I understand, but if I want to continue to have a decent relationship with him, unfortunately, it is entirely on my shoulders. 1000 miles can make a massive difference when considering parent-child relationships.

    Kellie Gibson

  5. Thank you for your inspiring words. I’m a single Dad and my four children are in New Zealand and I’m in Australia. Due to financial restrictions unfortunately we only get to see each other once a year, twice at the most which is rare. That deep feeling of lonliness never leaves and in silence I grieve and miss my children. In silence because I choose not to weight people down with my burdon. Your words are encouraging and inspiring and God bless all single Mum’s and Dad’s who are loving and genuine and for whatever reason can’t be with their children. A song I wrote for my children called ‘Look Up To The Moon’, depicts looking at the same thing at the same time. It helps with distance and makes it feel like they’re not so far away. Blessings, Anton Ranger Australia

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