The most important reason for this blog was to help parents navigate through separation issues and custody issues. The main ingredient in both of those issues are the kids.
Over the years after my separation, my kids have been my main focus. They have also been my main worry. From the day they arrive in this world, we naturally know that they come first. No matter what. So during the most uphill battle of my life, my main constant has been just that. Keep them #1.
Somehow I’ve had to learn how to keep my feelings towards their mother to myself, and at the same time, put on a happy face and be the best dad I can. Going into this separation, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to do that. Her family was making it very hard for me to even pretend they were good people.
One of the things that really helped me put on a happy face, and ignore the crap that was going on around me, was to really focus on the kids. Not just be a dad.. but be a very involved dad. I know I’ve harped before on how important it was to me to be involved, but I also learned that being involved kept me away from the negative crap.
See, I learned that focusing on my kids, and what was going on in their lives, was far more constructive than anything else. Making sure I called every couple nights, make sure we facetimed… making sure I asked about school.
At first it was difficult. My kids couldn’t carry on conversation if their life depended on it. They were too young. My daughter was a very quiet girl so trying to talk to her on the phone was as challenging as you could imagine. I didnt care. They seen that dad cared, and that dad was around.
Its not hard to be around. I didn’t want to be a stranger that came to visit every once in a while. I wanted to be dad.
Being a dad is a huge honor. Being a dad isn’t just donating sperm, and being some figure in your kids lives. Being a dad is being the next thing to being god in your childrens lives.
Once I finally learned to wrap my head around what being a dad was, it was simple. I showed up, I called, I never lied. If I told my kids that I would call… I called. If I told them I would be there, I went.
…. THATS IT.
My kids and I grew very close even though I was 4 hours away. They knew they could trust me. They knew they could talk to me whenever they wanted. And they knew that every second night, Dad was calling. Not some guy.. not a stranger. .. Dad.
As the kids got older and started to see what their mom was up to.. and started to realize they weren’t getting to see me as much, they started pushing back on their mom. My son started acting up, and my daughter would follow suit.
Even know this was music to my ears, and finally the kids knew that what Trudy was doing wasnt right, it was also my duty as a father to help Trudy. To help raise the kids, and coach them as to not be acting up because of decisions made.
Trudy was parenting in a way that I didn’t agree with, but because the kids spent the majority with her, there wasn’t much I could do. I could talk to her about it, and suggest some things, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t do anything. My son was acting up and Trudy would plead her case to me why she did something the way she did, and even if I didn’t agree with her, I would at least explain to my son why she was doing that.
Always remember… you don’t have to agree with the choices your ex makes, but if what he/she is doing, isn’t hurting your kids, at least take the time to see it from her view, and explain it to your kids. They are too young to understand why mom or dad does things the way they do…. so help them understand.
In my case, explaining to my son why his mom was taking away his Ipad, or why his mom grounded him for talking back, really helped the way he treated her going forward. He didn’t always agree with her, but he knew how to behave in a way, that wouldn’t get him in trouble, and wouldn’t get him grounded. He learned to adapt. He learned that he had to listen to his dad as well.. and that dad was looking out for him.
Even though I wasn’t physically in his life every single day, I parented him. I helped him through a situation that ultimately helped him going forward.
Whats my point?? My point is that you can be a dad from 12 minutes away, or 12 hours away. Just because your ex makes things difficult, don’t back away. Don’t fall into that dead beat status… be present. Even though your ex may think he/she has it under control, your kids still need their dad… or mom.
A lot of people think taking the easy way out, and not being a dad, or mom is the way to go. Its not.. Two people brought your child into this world, it doesn’t end there. It takes two people to raise, and shape your kids into who they are going to be in the future.
Dont run…. be present. Your kids need you.