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Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Trucker and a Father: How to Make it Work

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Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:

It can be hard on trucker dads when providing for a family requires being away from that family.
On Father’s Day, June 18, many trucker dads will be on the road and not at home to receive cards and gifts. It’s a fact of life for OTR truckers, but the absences still hurt.
“It’s very hard being a dad on the road,” said Ryan Sexton, a member of the RoadPro Pro Driver Council. It can mean missing big events, like birthdays, as well as little ones, like dance competitions and games of catch.   
Of course, it’s easier now than ever for truckers to stay in touch, thanks to digital technology and social media. Long gone are the days of waiting in line for pay phones at a truck stop. Cell phones mean family is never more than a text or call away and Skype allows dads and children to talk face-to-face even if the family is in Dallas and dad is in Duluth. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms let absent dads keep up on what the family is doing.
“I use pretty much all forms of social media as well as many, many phone calls,” said RoadPro Pro Driver Council member Thomas Miller. “There is, of course, Facebook, calls, text, but I particularly enjoy Snapchat with my 15-year-old daughter, and FaceTime with my grandson. My wife and I generally stick with calls and text.”     
Tom Kyrk, a member of the RoadPro Pro Driver Council, said habit is key for younger children: “Try and create a routine where you talk on a regular basis or schedule. If kids are young, maybe read or tell them a story near bedtime or something that happened out on the road they will find interesting.
“My biggest advice is to never make a promise such as I will be home Wednesday,” Kyrk said. “In this industry, a lot can happen to keep you from fulfilling that promise. I have found it’s much better to say I will do my best or that is the plan. This way you don’t come across as a liar if you cannot make it due to unplanned events, like an accident or weather.”   
Jon Osburn was in the military before he became an OTR driver so his children (now grown) were used to him being away much of the time. Osburn, who drives the “Spirit of the American Trucker” semi for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said he took his children on the road with him when they were younger to spend time with them and to show them what it means to be a driver.
He also made it a point to be home for his children’s big events, such as prom – even if it meant parking his rig and flying home and back in 24 hours. Based in Idaho, he also organized family outings when he was home, such as river rafting and snowmobiling.
He added that he was also careful not to disrupt his wife’s routine and rules when he was home: “I’m not going to tell her how to raise her kids. If I disagreed with something, we’d talk about it.”      
No matter how much trucker fathers do to stay connected and active in their children’s lives, some feel guilty about not spending more time with their kids. One OTR truck-driving father who asked to remain anonymous once told a social worker that he felt like a failure because he wasn’t always able to be there for his child.

“I was told words I’ve never forgotten,” the driver said. “There is more to being a dad or father than just being at home. You have the responsibility to earn and support your family. You are in a vital occupation. As a result, you may not be home much, but you’re always willing to spend time with him on the phone and time with him when you are home. You are working hard and showing him the importance of working and not living off the government. To me, you’re the epitome of what a father is -- a person who will make the hard sacrifices to put the needs of his family first.”
Four Ways to be a Better Father
The National Center for Fathering is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of fathering and to making sure every child has a father or father figure in his or her life. It offers a four-point program truckers can use to be better dads: ICAN. Here’s how it breaks down:
I is for Involvement – Stay connected while on the road through phone calls, texts, FaceTime, Skype, social media or whatever works, said group spokesman Steve Wilson. Can’t attend a recital? Watch a live stream of it. When truckers are at home, they should spend dedicated time with their kids.
C is for Consistency – Establish a pattern for staying in touch. A good-morning text and a nightly Skype call lets the child know the absent father is thinking of them and cares for them. “Kids might not express that, but they crave that kind of consistency,” Wilson said.
A is for Awareness – Many fathers are more aware of what’s happening in Washington or with their favorite teams than what’s going on in their children’s lives. Fathers should know the names of the children’s teachers and best friends, their likes and dislikes, Wilson said.
N is for Nurturing – Truckers should tell their children they love them, Wilson said. Truckers might think their children know they’re doing a tough job out of love, but it never hurts to tell them. “They need to have that affirmation,” Wilson said.


1 comment:

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