Supervised Access For Fathers

There are 8.6 million fathers in Canada. 3.8 million of these fathers have children under the age of 18 who live with them (stat.Canada 2011).

Fathers play a vital role in their child’s development. Their influence and relationship impacts the social, emotional and academic areas of their child’s life.

The structure of families is also changing. This change occurs when parents separate. Separation can affect a great deal and when this occurs the child’s relationship with both parents becomes even more crucial. This is especially true for fathers. In separation we often see many fathers listed as the non-custodial parent with access and sometimes supervised. This decision for non-custodial access supervised is usually made for the well being and safety of the child. In this process it is vital for father’s to maintain good communication with their child. Despite this decision made by the courts it is on the premise that a father’s role is significant to the lives of their children.

When the decision is made to separate everyone is impacted, this includes fathers. There can be long term emotional effects on fathers. This can be seen in a father’s lack of ability to express their emotions and feelings about the separation. When this happens it is important to seek services and support. The effects on fathers include a sense of loss, grief, anger and depression. Fathers are often depressed because their time with their child is now limited and they are frustrated in trying to resolve complex issues to reach an agreement for access with their children. While in this transition, it is recommended fathers continue to have open communication with their children and seek support from friends and family as well as counseling support as needed. The support and services will help to lessen the emotional impact and help to rebuild their relationship with their children.

If you are the father whose visit is supervised, this too can have a major impact on your emotional health and also impact the relationship with your children. The purpose of the access visit is to help support you and your child in building your relationship. It is quite common for a non-custodial parent to feel frustration and anger towards this new arrangement while making adjustment to a new life style.

Supervised access gives the father and their child an opportunity to build their relationship in a neutral and safe environment. Supervised access can provide the father with the tools to build a positive relationship with their child.

If the child has been exposed to family violence or other serious conflict there will be many challenges to build back the relationship. However, with support and services relationships are repairable. Having to use supervised access is a positive step towards building a relationship with your children.

In the process of building your relationship and having supervised access it is imperative that you the father stay positive in the process. The behavior we see impacts that of the child’s.  In preparation for visits it is important to meet with the centre’s staff to share your fears or concerns. The goal of visits is to build the relationship with your child and will therefore need you to be engaging and attentive. Before you have a visit, plan activities you would like to do with your children. Bring items to the visit you think you child would like such as books or games. Be open to change the plan in the visit because your child may changes his mind. In the visit be positive, have open communication with your child. It is also important that the visit is about you and your child’s relationship. It is essential to avoid more damage to the child by speaking negatively about the other parent and not paying more attention on the child.

When a child has been exposed to parental conflict or violence there will often be fear, anxiety and apprehensiveness in the visit. Reassurance to the child that things are ok and safe will help to subside those feelings. At the end of the visit let your child know how much you enjoy the visit and are looking forward to the next visit. It is important that this is about the relationship with you and your child. If you are having struggles or anxious about your visit speak to the staff at the centre.

Supervised access is a short term step to a long term goal for fathers and their relationship with their children. It is a positive space to accomplish this goal. For more information please contact our centre at

In separation cases fathers can also become the primary parent and this too can have an emotional impact. The challenges here will include rebuilding their lives with their children. When this is the situation it is important there is open and honest communication with the children. It is important to seek services and support. There are also challenges when access to the other parent is supervised. Hence, it is important to seek services such as those offered at Side by Side Services.


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