Being a divorced, single father can be extremely difficult at times, especially if the mother of your child goes out of her way to make your life complicated and difficult. There are a number of negative things that can exist between you and your former mate, but you need to make sure that they do not drive a stake between you and your child.
You may find yourself in a situation where you want to lash out at your ex, or you may be tempted to start bad mouthing her in front of others, but you have to stop and ask yourself "Is this the message I want to send to my kid?" The answer is no. Your child needs to be first on your priority list and you need to ensure that you behave appropriately to make sure that doesn't change. Your child should look up to you, so make sure the role model they're seeing is one that they will be proud of.
We’ve all had experiences with coaches in our lives whether it was with a little league coach, a school teacher or a mentor at work people have influenced our lives in both negative and positive ways. Take some time and separate these people from the good and the bad. The bad people should pop into your head like it happened yesterday. That’s just the way our minds work. Write down those bad experiences and make notes of what you particularly disliked about them. Was the person condescending? Did they smirk when they spoke to you? Did they use big words and made you feel inferior? Jot all those bad things down. Let’s try not to get too negative so focus on the good people or positive experiences. What did these people do or say that kept the experience positive? Did they constantly pump you up? Did they continually point out your good points before they corrected some unproductive habits? Take the time and make some notes.
Now make the same list each time you interact with your child.
Are you more like the bad list, the good list or in between? If you’re not totally on the good list then changes need to be made. Coaching is about positive reinforcement, bringing up the things a child does well before correcting an undesirable habit and encouraging self-efficacy. We’re not all perfect, but we can definitely take the time to make a better life for our children. Good luck.
A week after the first day of school my oldest daughter begins her I’d-rather-sleep-than-get-out-of-bed-ritual. There’s no real pattern for this behavior, like rainy days or cold mornings, some days she just doesn’t want to get up. I’ve tried time-out warnings, but after a few of them I had to actually follow through on the threats. The time-outs were eating into our precious limited early morning time. With neo-traditional means not working I attempted something new. I woke the children up, turned on the lights in each of their rooms and open the shades and blinds. I made breakfast and by the time I was finished they were both at the table. While gently rubbing their eyes and wondrously welcoming in the early morning light my oldest said to me, “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier?” I smiled and replied, “I’ll remember tomorrow.”
I felt instantly gratified that I made the right decision. I allowed them to get out of bed on their own. I didn’t rush them or rip the covers off them; I just said time to get up and went about the rest of the morning. My lesson was simple: all I had to do was let her know when it was time to get up and the rest she did on her own. I can’t say this situation will play out the same for every parent, but the principle should work. Sometimes all you have to do is let someone know what time it is and they’ll do the rest.
Parenting has its ups and downs. Single parenting is experiencing those ups and downs alone. Life seems easier when you have someone by your side to bounce ideas off and consort on parental issues. A single parent usually has family members, but let’s face be honest, it’s not the same as having your partner with you. So we single dads go out in the world armed with our hard work ethic and keen sense of direction only to be in dire need of compassion and understanding. Compassion and understanding rarely comes easy to men; usually we have to learn those traits. As a single father, I came to a conclusion on parenting not too long ago. A parent’s primary task in raising their children is to teach them to make decisions they can stand by and accept. I might not like my child’s decisions in a careers choice, the clothes they wear or their behavior, but they certainly have to live with their choices. Living with my decisions is one thing in life I’ve certainly learned the hard way.
I’m amazed at how some parents think their children are going to magically one day start making good decisions. We see these parents’ constantly in malls, extracurricular activities and in school; these parents do their kids homework for them or yell at them to behave in public. Parents should understand children that are taught at an early age to make their own decisions don’t need to be spanked or constantly hounded to do school work. These children know what happens if they display unfavorable behavior in public when they get home: they’ll be in a time out or lose something they value. It’s their decision.
Teaching kids to make their own decisions will help them learn consequences. Consequences will have them hesitate when their sixteen and about to do something incredibly stupid or foolish. Consequences will have them practice safe sex. Consequences will help guide them through the rest of their lives. If you teach a child consequences when their young, then they will determine a natural instinct to hesitate and think through every decision they make in life. Children will grow to be comfortable with their decisions and secure that they can make the rights ones for them. We make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to wear to should I make that left hand turn with that car so close? Give children the ability to make decisions on their own and they will pass that on to their kids. You could change more than one life by teaching a simple life skill.
The last day of summer is upon us. While most people agree the best time of the year is summer, for me it’s the last days of summer. It’s not just because the leaves are changing or the kids are going back to school after a much needed summer vacation, although all those things are nice, it’s because of fall baseball. After Labor Day baseball seems to take over the sports-minded individual’s attention. Sure football season begins as well, but the first few weeks of football season are riddles with out of shape players being winded and penalties circling their sloppy play. For baseball though the players are thinking about the post season and adding players to the roster. Baseball elevates to a new level after the school bell begins ringing again. What’s the only sad part about fall baseball? Unfortunately it signals that the season is nearly over for most teams. So enjoy the ballpark for a few more weeks and hears to hoping for a speedy winter. For when the snow begins to thaw and the birds return chirping happily baseball will return to us all, and for you beach lovers bringing back summer in its wake.
While your kids progress through the lower grades (Pre-K through 5) most teachers will send them home with a list of school supplies for the coming year. Sometimes and not always these lists will include a wish list for the needs of the class. Items like tissues, paper towels and hand sanitizer all flow up and down the page like your own grocery list. I’m fortunate enough to have a friend that teaches; and apparently if these items are not donated by the parents the teachers have to purchase the supplies themselves! I was shocked when I heard the news. I thought the district supplies the classrooms. I did a little research and the district supplies the necessary needs to keep each classroom sanitized and safe for the children. Unfortunately the budget doesn’t include items like hand sanitizers, paper towels in the class room or wipes. These items are considered to be luxury items.
After hearing the news I immediately go out every year and fulfill the teacher’s wish list. Not because I have too, but because these people have a great influence on my children’s academic future and self-esteem. The least I can do is provide them with a little luxury in return.