I was perusing other fatherhood blogs to see what I might do better and to find interesting topics to discuss when I came across this post from singleparentdad. He discusses when to tell his son that he misses him. His situation is different from mine in that he's talking about weekends or a week that his son is gone, not months, but I still identified with it. He talks about missing his son, because he son brings a calm that he simply doesn't feel when he's not around, but not wanting to tell him because he doesn't want his son to feel guilt over not being there. I understand this completely. My ex tells my son she misses him all the time and his reaction is always sadness or indifference. It never makes him feel good. So I try to avoid telling him I miss him.
Still, I don't want him to think I don't miss him either. I don't want him to think that it doesn't make a difference to me whether he's with me or not. When it comes to actually saying the words "I miss you" I follow his lead. If he says he misses me I tell him I miss him too. I think on the rare occasions he admits to missing me, he's looking for reassurance so I give it to him. I tell him I miss him and remind him when he'll be back home.
Being guys, though, we mostly tell each other we miss each other without saying the words. He'll text me to show me the cool Zelda cards he just got and I'll tell him I've been playing his favorite game. He'll call me just to talk about wrestling and I'll tell him when the next time we're going to eat White Castle of Five Guy's is. He'll give me a great big painful hug when he sees me and I'll throw him to the ground and tickle him mercilessly. The easiest way I can tell that he's missed me is that the last week he was home, before bed every night, he would voluntarily give me a kiss on the cheek without any prompting from me. Trust me, when an eight year old boy kisses anyone without being coerced it's a big deal. I hope the smile on my face showed him how big of a deal it was to me too and how much I've missed him.
The author of the blog I linked to talks about how he might be making a more complicated issue of it than it is but I don't think he is. I worry constantly about my son's emotional state. Some of that is, I think, the normal worries of any good parent in my situation but part of it is just that I worry because things don't seem to affect him sometimes. He takes things way too much in stride and I know he gets that from me and my family but it worries me. He's only eight. The fact that he's gone through the past year and a half without any behavioral issues and few emotional problems makes him amazing but it also makes him abnormal. I know kids are adaptable in a way adults struggle to be but I worry I may be inadvertently teaching him to be unfeeling instead of adaptable.
So I want some other opinions. Do you think I'm right to only tell him I miss him when he says he misses me? Do you think I should tell him more or less? Do you think I'm making this all too complicated? Do you have other ideas? I need some feedback on this one people. I know I act like it sometimes but I really don't know everything.