Tag Archives: children

What Do Families Do In Denver?

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m rapidly becoming the “doing things” Dad for my 4 year old daughter. I’m not sure how it started, but I kind of morphed into the fun persona as I only get Grace with me a limited amount of time a week, usually on the weekends. Of course, we’ll still do things like read books, color, and watch various cartoons or movies (Disney! Oooh, they’re cunning ones, they are), but I also like to take the the little one out for excursions to art museums, festivals, parks… anything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer.

Of course, doing these things usually takes time, for researching the various activities, and money, for paying for them.

Or, at least one would think.

In my sidebar you’ll notice a link to KidsPages.org, an organization that has a website with various tips, hints, and activities both paid and free for families. They have become my weekly lifeline to largely free stuff – perfect for a guy like me that is busily trying to save money for his daughter’s college choice, lose money from my 401(k), and still maintain a relatively happy techno-geek life with his girlfriend. Yes, it’s all a challenge, but KidsPages.org makes it much easier.

Take a gander over there this weekend. I’m pretty sure that they have a dead tree (paper) version out there as well.

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How To StifleThe Pain of Separation

Not long ago, I received an email from a single dad who is going through something similar to what I went through a couple of years back when Grace’s mother and I broke up.  This guy’s marriage crumbled, and he wanted to know how to, paraphrasing his words, avoid the accusations and feelings of abandonment and guilt.

Well, single dads and single moms, here’s my thoughts.

First, let’s be realistic.  Breaking up with a longtime partner or spouse is bad.  Really bad.  I’ve heard it be described as everything from feeling like you were in a serious car accident every day for years to, in one friend’s words, “simply worse than you can possibly imagine.”  I never knew what he meant until a few years ago.

Now, however, I know.  It’s bad.

Feeling of abandonment and guilt, whatever the prior situation, are bound to occur at some point, especially if you have kids, assuming that your family life held a high priority to you.  To put it bluntly, you can’t avoid it.  I might argue, even, that you shouldn’t.  Divorce and separation can feel like a death in a close family; sometimes, you just need to mourn.

But don’t go crazy.

In the situation where you left a spouse or loved one and left children behind, STAY ON TOP OF THE FAMILY SITUATION.  You love your kids, most likely, your kids love you.  You’re a parent, and become no less of a parent because you’re not there 24/7.  The dirty little secret is that very few of us are actually there 24/7 anyway.  But don’t lose track of what your kids are doing.  Ask questions: about school, friends, home, what their likes and dislikes are, everything.  If your kids are too small to answer back, play with them.  Watch movies.  Read with them.  Take them to parks.  In short, be an active parent.  You’ll be amazed at how much less sulking time that gives you.  I still get fidgety if I don’t see my daughter within a certain time period.

Another suggestion I would give would be to learn to tune out the noise.  Obviously, if you’ve been with your partner for any appreciable amount of time, they are going to know you alarmingly well, and one of those things that they will most certainly know and will almost positively take advantage of is which buttons to push.  Listening to the pertinent information and eliminating the noise is a skill that takes time to master, but it will be necessary for your mental health – and it will be your mental health that will allow you to thrive without your significant other.  Remember that, and achieve a zen-like comfort level.

Finally, and this might not seem to be obvious, but get a lawyer if you can.  This person is more than just a person that knows the law, it’s a person that knows the law that you are paying to be on your team.  This simple knowledge will give you an important, and at least in my situation, unexpected emotional boost.  Really it helped.  Also lawyer will give you all sorts of information that you knew, but somehow forgot about when it comes to separation.  It sounds strange, but it works.

Those are a few things that come to mind.  I know that I’ll come up with more.  I’ll keep thinking.

Hang in there!

Where’s Daddy?

The great thing about having a little time off from Single Dads and my other blog is that I have no shortage of things to write about.  However, some things are timelier than others.  This article from the Buffalo News, however, made me just a little upset.

Dante Brown is a playful, rambunctious toddler growing up on the city’s West Side.

TraJanae Sanders is the same kind of kid, growing up on the East Side.

A lot separates these 2-year-olds, but in some important ways, their young lives already echo with similarity. Both are poor.

Both are being raised by young women who bore them as teenagers.

And neither child has a dad at home. Dante and TraJanae are two faces of a change that’s deeply affecting many neighborhoods in Buffalo — where today 43 percent of children live below the poverty line.

These two children, and at least 18,450 others in the city, are growing up in low-income homes headed by women alone. This is fatherless Buffalo.

Nifty.  Nice job out there in Buffalo, guys.

Look, men as a whole are dumb enough; I don’t think that I know one person that wouldn’t agree with me, and I do know a lot of people.  However, there’s no reason to make us look MORE dumb by not sticking by your kids.  YOUR KIDS, GENTLEMEN.

I’m not with my daughter’s mother, but I’m definitely with my daughter, Grace, and by God, she knows it, and will know it, for the rest of her life.  I’m not going ANYWHERE.  Shoot, it’s hard enough to not see her for a weekend.

I have a million stories to prove that.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, on behalf of the millions of men out there that love their kids and would never abandon them, mothers of the world, I apologize.

A Fact And Forgiveness

I would expect that one of the things that lots of divorcees with kids grapple with is relationships with the ex. Speaking from experience, I can say equivocally that this happens… everywhere. You broke up with your ex for a reason, be it infidelity, finances, emotional abuse, or whatever it is… and if you have kids, there is some sort of split relationship, most likely, involving them.

People. People. Let me enlighten you on one irrevocable fact.

You WILL be dealing with your ex for the rest of your life, unless you are in one of the extreme cases where it’s unsafe for you, or your children, to be near the ex. You can’t avoid, ignore, or otherwise shut them out. You may think that there is, but there is not, because the kids are involved, and will be forever.

What does this mean for you, the traumatized, or on the other hand, insufferable other parent?

It means that you will have to get over it. Deal with the other parent. When you have to, converse with the other parent. In fact, consider the other parent, as distasteful as it might be for you or them, part of your family, because when it comes down to it, that is exactly what they are. Not a conventional family in the way that you might like, but a family, nonetheless. Existing children will guarantee this fact. Surely, you will still recall what it is that made you so unhappy with them, fine. You can remember that if you like.

But the key emotion, and the hardest to learn, is this, with all apologies to Don Henely:

Forgiveness.

Even if you don’t love them anymore.

Use Child Time Wisely

I love Saturdays.

Lately, my daughter has been spending a lot of weekends here, which, I have to admit, is wonderful for me. In the past, I’ve heard of a lot of other co-parenting fathers taking their time with their toddler kids to do the fun things, like go on trips, go to playgrounds, and just simply play. The very first excursion that I took Grace and her sister on together when I was still with their mom was to the Art Museum – and Grace was still a little, little baby at that time.

I like to do “fun” things with Grace but I love to plan activities that count towards her future development.

Our most recent weekend adventures involve the “learning” Leapfrog videos. If you’re not familiar and have a toddler, I can’t recommend them enough. Right now our family is a little obsessed with the Letter and Word Factory DVDs, which are fun for me and for her no matter how many times we see them. Better still, the DVDs come equipped with learning games that teach your kids skills, like recognizing words that rhyme, or letters. She gets to acquire skills that she will be able to use for the rest of her life; I get to swell with pride at her increasing ability to communicate like a big kid.

You can’t get a better win/win situation.

Being that I have no idea what she’s learning when she’s with Mom, I figure that exposing her to as many opportunities to learn while she’s with me is the best thing that I can do for both of us.

But we also went to the playground.

Ah, the wonders of the toddler attention span.

Protect Your Name And Your Reputation

Something that you need to definitely have to do when you divorce is watch yourself, and watch your name. Google it if you have to. I have personal experience with this phenomenon.

My present girlfriend had the wonderful experience of being stalked by her ex. He started a website solely for the purposes of trying to make my girlfriend look bad, put her down, and talk about personal information. He would put pictures on his site and allude negatively towards her work habits, personal experiences, and et cetera. Absolutely a prince, you might say. Eventually, it took a threat from the FBI, local law enforcement, and various websites being pulled from free sites for violations of terms of service to make him cease and desist.

My ex is similar, but does a different kind of stalking. On her MySpace page, (a page that which I read regularly) she describes how miserable she is and attempts to slam me as having a drinking problem and being an irresponsible and deadbeat dad… despite my regular OVER payments for child support – never missing a payment, regular visits, and general overall support. The reason that I am not with her is that we don’t get along. I DO want to be with my child 24/7. It’s a huge difference, and an emotionally and legally expensive one.

Solutions? I’m not sure that I have one, and if anyone has any great ideas, then I’m all ears. I’m already considering legal action.  However, if your breakup with your ex was acrimonious, then learn to use Google. Be your best private detective. Keep a journal It can be a little annoying and perhaps may cause you fume a bit, but make sure that you have all the possible information. At least that way, if you decide to follow through, then you’ll have all the information. Over at WiredSafety.org, they have a lot of great information about cyberstalking and a number of other Internet crimes.

Here’s one that you can write down; despite any odd thing that I might see in her behavior, actions, or choices, you will never see me slam her in print. That’s no better than gossip, and despite the fact that our relationship didn’t work out, she does have good qualities for someone else. That won’t stop me from being the dad of a three year old.

Remember as well; self improvement is the best form of revenge.

Back From The Holidays

Hello everyone!  Back from the holidays.   They were busy.

I certainly didn’t get a whole lot of everything, but come to think of it, I don’t really need that much.  The real highlight of my holiday was spending time with my daughter.  Now, SHE cleaned up.  Is it a popular vice of co-parents that they completely and totally overspend for the holidays?  I think that Grace has every Princess toy known to mankind now.  Yet, I still am finding that I need to get her more.  She really needs a tent.  Also some new clothes, even though she already has quite a few.  but the temptation to keep buying clothes (she’ll be four in a few months, and she’s always growing) is ridiculous.  I’m never sure that her mother is going to buy her clothes.

Anyway, I’m back.