Most Common Types of “Absent Dad”

Do you know a dad who is physically present, but absent?  Dad doesn’t have to live apart from his son to be absent. Many families may appear to be “intact” with dad acting as the head of household when in fact, his mind and his energy are somewhere else.

3 Most Common Types

First: There’s the “cool dad” who never grew up!

He wants to be his son’s buddy. He’s available to take him out four-wheeling or fishing, a golf outing or on a trip to Disneyland! They often catch a movie or whatever fun thing he likes to do. Sadly, he never seems to have time for parent-teacher conferences. He and his son can spend hours playing video games or watching football.  He seems to disappear when something less fun, like making sure his homework gets done or confronting him about the bag of marijuana Mom found in his sock drawer needs to be addressed. That’s the dad that never grew up.

This dad is present for his son, but not in the way dad should be. Their relationships with their boys are more like that of an older brother, or maybe a fun uncle. They spend time with their sons, which is a good, positive thing, and it does produce some positive results. However, they still somehow fail to provide the guidance, teaching, and discipline an adolescent boy needs to become a responsible man. Which is the most important lesson Dad can provide his son.

 Second: Dad is incapacitated.

Struggling with addiction or a history of abuse is difficult to be present for anyone; the result is they are only there for themselves. A dad with this history and experience almost automatically becomes an “absent father,” because they are mentally incapable of providing the kind of steady, reliable presence their boy needs, even if/when they want to.

The same can be true when suffering from a severe mental imbalance like depression—when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, it’s hard to consider and deal with the needs of another human being. Physical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or cancer can leave a father unable to do the basic work of parenting,  If he is not well, “being present” for his son is a struggle, no matter how much he wants to be.

Third: The distracted dad.

He coaches Little League or he volunteers as a Boy Scout leader.  He sits down at the table for dinner with the family every night. But despite all the things he appears to be doing right, he may be the type of “absent father” known as the distracted dad.

Distracted dads tend to be workaholic, perfectionist types who are too busy, stressed out, and wrapped up in their own lives and problems to take the time to provide the hands-on guidance their sons need. They feel fine leaving most of the parenting to Mom, since they see it as her job, or at least as a job she’s more suited to than they are.

They feel confident that they are contributing everything needed by working hard and doing what they can at home. What is missing is while they may be consistent by being physically present in their sons’ lives, emotionally they are checked out/somewhere else.

Finally: Be the dad that commits to making changes!

A boy needs a minimum of 3-5 hours scheduled one-on-one time with his dad every week (yes…just him and dad…alone!), most of the time doing something enjoyable for both of them!  Building things, playing chess/checkers, walking the dog, playing video games (use moderation!), or just hanging out.

The goal is to be together!  Dad is present for him; this is where important lessons can be taught and learned! The bonus: in that short period of scheduled time, he’ll feel special and his anxiety begins to decrease.

(Dad, remember if you don’t have the answers to some of his questions, let him know you will find out and get back with him.  Then go do it! Get back to him in a reasonable amount of time, he won’t ever forget these moments!)

And that’s really what he needs and wants from his dad!

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