By Kenneth Braswell (published in Rolling Out Magazine – Atlanta on Dec 2nd)

Have you ever thought you belonged to something; only to
feel like you don’t. That eerie feeling of thinking and expecting that you are
surrounded by supporters only to realize that you might be by yourself. Maybe a
time when you felt like you are making sense or doing the right thing; but
never feeling validated. It’s like driving on a highway with no signs. Having
no idea if you are going too fast or slow, how far you have to go or if you are
headed in the right direction. You feel lost because there are no indicators
you trust.

Unfortunately these feelings tend to arise at this time of
the year. It’s the time of the year that promotes a feeling of togetherness,
however at the same time, creates environments of isolation. Yet at the same
time according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the CDC (
the amount of suicides do not increase during the holidays. It is a myth that
people take their lives as a result of not having the Christmas spirit. However
there are things that people should look out for because the likelihood does
increase after the holidays.

No isolation is greater than that which includes family;
particularly for fathers who find themselves on the non-custodial side of the
equation. These fathers often find themselves on the outside looking in during
special occasions and more specifically during the holidays when visitation is
not an option. I myself remember the silence of Christmas morning without my
daughter wondering about the surprised look on her face when she opened her
first present. Although, I was fortunate enough to see it every other year and
still spend time with her on the day; it did not compensate for the times we
were apart.

There is nothing more frustrating than playing over and over
the imagined joy and laughter that is taking place without you. Each year these
parenting situations cause much angst for children who play no role in creating
this atmosphere of contention, yet almost always are impacted the most. It is
these stories that perpetuate the myth that people commit more suicides during
the holidays than any other time of the year. Having said that, research also
shows that although suicides decline; bouts of depression and other self
inflicted wounds such as substance abuse and incidents of domestic violence
increase. However there is hope.

Although the holidays might
shine more light on these tense situations; the reality is there are so many
more days of the year to which time spent with your children can occur,
happiness can be felt and joy can be experienced. Here are a few things a
parent who is feeling isolated from their children can do to help compensate
for the feeling of sitting on the outside looking in:

  • Prepare the next visit. Yeah it may be nice for children to receive their gifts on
    the holiday, but it is the experience they will remember not the day. You’re
    not going to take the Christmas tree down until March anyway. You might as well
    use it!
  • Spend time with others. While our priority is with our children; there are so
    many other children that would appreciate your presence over your presents.
    Unfortunately too many of our children do not have fathers to wake up to, so a
    loving gesture by a man on Christmas morning can do wonders for the memories of
  • Share your feelings. Don’t totally spoil the holiday mood with your BAH-HUM-BUG
    attitude; but do let those close to you know that you are struggling with fully
    enjoying the spirit of the day. If you don’t tell anybody you’re hurting;
    nobody knows.
  • Plan for next year, NOW. It may not be easy, but expressing to the other parent how
    it feels not to be with your children on the holiday can yield some benefits.
    Be real with yourself, if you are already experiencing other issues, you will
    have to work on resolving those too. Yeah, we know; you have rights too.
    However at the end of the day, you want to spend time with your children. Let
    that be your number one priority. Call ParentHelp to assist at 1-800-716-3468.
  • Life is better with you than without you. No matter how bleak the situation feels,
    it will not remain the same. That is unless; you keep doing the same thing to
    fix it (insanity). There is always hope for the better; but you have to be here
    to make it happen. Not being here is NOT an option. National Suicide Prevention
    Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Fathers Incorporated is a 501©3 not-for-profit (S) corporation and is dedicated to strengthening the community and family infrastructure by encouraging and enabling the positive involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. For more information visit and follow us on twitter at @fathersincorp

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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