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How Boys & Girls Handle Divorce

Each of us living as divorced parents have seen our children cope with the separation in their own unique ways. It should go without saying that no matter how much love and support and reassurance you offer your children, this isn’t going to be easy for them. But each child is going to react differently and I think it’s important to recognize that fact and do your share of reading on the subject to equip yourself as much as you can to help them through the transition and even years into the divorce.

One thing I’ve read in multiple publications is that boys tend to deal with divorce differently than girls. I have found it interesting that my girls were the first to try and set me up on Match.com while my son worked hard to get my ex and me back together. There are all kinds of theories on this subject, but reading comments from different readers I came upon one that really hit me. He said that as males, we tend to612px-Sapioheterosexuality_Symbol.svg_want to fix things. I thought back to my marriage and a flurry of memories of my wife saying, “I’m not asking you to fix anything I just want to tell you about what happened. You don’t need to act, just listen.” When My ex-wife would come to me with problems, my first inclination was to fix the problem she was sharing with me. So when I read this comment I was like, “well of course!”

Even if a young man knows that he was not at all responsible or to blame for a divorce, he’ll very likely feel some sense of failure in not being able to fix it. To him mommy and daddy’s relationship is broken. And his first tendency may be to want to fix it. If you’re working together as co-parents and generally get along in front of your kids this is going to be even more true since to him, it probably won’t take much to get mommy and daddy back on track.

Another great comment I read dealt with how we as parents handle the divorce ourselves. Are we acting as the victim? Or do we acknowledge and move on as strong, healthy adults? What are our children seeing when they see us deal with our ex or being a single parent? What do they see and hear? I think it’s important to recognize that every sight and sound those little eyes and ears are taking in has an impact. They’re paying very close attention and how they handle the divorce and being a child of divorce may very well depend on how you yourself handle it.

It’s easy to play the victim sometimes. It’s easy to shout out a negative. But is that really what our children need? Or do they need us to acknowledge and move on as strong independent adults? Pay close attention to your children. They will provide you all kinds of clues as to what they need from you. It’s simply up to you to tune in and provide them with a sense of security and knowledge that no matter what, both you and their mom will be there for them 100%.

Would love to hear your take on this subject.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2014 in Divorce, Talking To Kids

 

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Why Every Man Should Have a Daughter

I was raised by a remarkable woman. In addition, I grew up with four equally brilliant older sisters. And yet. Despite that fact, I knew very little about women when I entered my marriage. I was a blithering idiot when it came to understanding the female of our species and made remarkable errors in1656173_10152167021502908_421350704_n judgement because of that fact. They are likely errors most men make when attempting to understand and react to a woman’s thoughts, actions or needs. Yet they were still made by a man who clearly had no clue when it came to fully appreciating what it meant to live with a woman despite having grown up with several of them.

Enter my daughters.

As I’ve witnessed my girls grow and mature I have gained remarkable insights that I otherwise probably would have never known. To see first hand the development of the female mind is something great documentaries and scientific studies are made of. I often watch in awe and bewilderment as they navigate through relationships, friendships, insecurities, school struggles, body development, understanding the world and finding their purpose.

One thing I did learn from my ex-wife, (or attempted to learn anyway), was to sometimes just shut up and listen. It is a skill I often use while having a late night tea with my daughters. It is during these moments that I sit there on the verge of breaking out into desperate cold sweats of anxiety as they divulge their view on the world around them. There are times I’m tempted to open my mouth, but find the strength to just sit and take it all in; blown away at the perspective I’m being offered and the information I’m being trusted with.

Through this process I have begun to view women very differently. Perhaps it’s because I know that I myself am still very much defined by the kid I was many moons ago. So I believe it’s fair to assume that most people, women included, continue to react to the world in the same way they did as children; all of this despite 1185934_10151773292737908_2109251665_nour experiences, knowledge and education. We have, in most cases, matured and learned how to handle things more “adult like.” However, the root of who we are continues to be and always will be based on the foundation we laid as children.

To witness first hand the building of that foundation and to see how the mind of a young child, in particular that of a young woman, processes information is without question the most life changing experience a man can have. It is, in my humble opinion, a blessing to be given this opportunity to take it all in. And I urge any man who has a daughter to pay very close attention. I also encourage you to stop, just when you’re about to open your mouth in judgement and distain, to just shut up and listen. Observe, watch and learn. You will be scared. You will be terrified by some of what you see and hear. You may very well be rocked to your very soul. You may be tempted to run or perhaps yell, “STOP! You can’t be serious!!!” But fight these urges and just listen. I mean, REALLY listen. For there are insights hidden within the murky waters that is their language. Unfortunately there is no “Rosetta Stone – Women” to teach you this language. So if your daughter is willing to open up to you … remember it is a gift. One to be treated as such. And I promise you, you will be a better man for it.

I still do not profess to understand women. Neh; quite the contrary. I make mistakes and continue to hear things wrong, react wrong and mis-read. But that’s the point. We’re not supposed to necessarily understand. Rather, if I’ve learned anything these past several years watching my children grow, it’s that our purpose is not to understand, but rather simply accept and support. For we will not change them. We will not turn them into what we want. We can only be there to help them become the best “them” they can be.

 

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50 Things You Can’t Do When You’re The Father Of Tween Girls

50 Things you can’t do when you’re the father of tween daughters:

#1 Have enough hours in the day
#2 Win any argument that involves a discussion about Beyonce
#3 Be able to explain why according to Facebook you just listened to Ke$ha on Spotify
#4 Get more than three words in at the dinner table
#5 Forget what you were like when you were a tween boy
#6 Get a hug when you’re within 100 yards of school or any school event
#7 Be considered young
#8 Leave the bathroom door unlocked
#9 Their math homework
#10 Drink a beer at dinner without being asked, “how many is that dad?”
#11 Not cringe every time a story starts with a boy’s name
#12 Believe them when they tell you they watched the “clean version” of a music video on YouTube
#13 Have any recording space left on the DVR
#14 Leave any form of chocolate where it can be seen or smelled
#15 Go to the bathroom without checking first to make sure there’s toilet paper
#16 Have enough shampoo and conditioner
#17 Expect anyone to get any sleep during a sleepover
#18 Get them to come down for dinner without having to text them that it’s ready
#19 Watch any sporting event on television beginning to end
#20 Be considered cool
#21 Know where your iPhone charger is
#22 Speak about “rules of the house” without getting an eye roll
#23 Expect to find more than 1/2 a scoop of ice cream in the freezer
#24 Get a response the first time
#25 See the bathroom floor
#26 “Understand”
#27 Know whose clothes are whose when folding laundry
#28 Watch a movie on television and hear any of the important dialogue
#29 Lower the water bill
#30 Know what mood they’re going to be in when they get off the bus
#31 Get why their friends laugh when they both look at you and then at each other
#32 Make it out the door in under five minutes
#33 Understand what’s so funny about the videos on Vine
#34 Sit with them at the school basketball game they desperately wanted to go to with you
#35 “Know where the pony tail holders are”
#36 Sit down for more than ten seconds without being beckoned
#37 Sleep with your eyes closed on April fools day
#38 Afford to buy a “new arrival” at Banana Republic
#39 Be able to hear the actual artist on the car radio
#40 Have nose hair
#41 Be allowed to stand within twenty feet of them while in Abercrombie
#42 Trust tween boys
#43 Go anywhere without like totally embarrassing them
#44 Explain Bob Dylan
#45 Take life too seriously
#46 Drive by a stray dog without being told to pull over and pick it up
#47 Get the correct shade of concealer
#48 Explain life before the internet
#49 Go a week without ruining their life at least once
#50 Know what it’s like to be a tween girl

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Daily Life, Divorce, Uncategorized

 

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Oh Romeo Romeo!

I’m not a girl. Never dreamed of being a princess. Never imagined finding my prince charming and living a fairytale life. But I do have two young daughters. And from conversations we’ve had, I know they’re already starting to plan their weddings and I’m sure there’s a prince in the equation. Yet even at their tender ages, I can see they’re beginning to question the reality of ‘boys’ and whether Disney is basically full of #%@&.

Our kids today deal with social hurt on a level I don’t think we can comprehend. It was hard when WE were sixteen. I can only imagine what it’s like to be nine or ten in today’s world. But as a dad, and I’ve written about images-21this before, I believe we fathers have an opportunity and an obligation to be our daughters’ first knight in shining armor. We have a chance to set the bar that our daughters will look to as a measuring stick as they begin discovering romantic relationships.

It’s a tough balance, especially when you’re a single dad. You’re the disciplinarian, coach, chef, housekeeper, tutor and yes, you set the rules and uphold them. I personally think that it’s important that your kids see that everything you’re doing for them is for the purpose of keeping them safe. That you’re there to protect them above all things. To do that I also think it’s crucial that you continually work to maintain an open line of communication with your kids. Because one day, someone is going to hurt your little girl. God forbid it be physically, but even a broken heart is inevitable and the last thing you want is for your daughter to feel all alone, that she deserved it or like no one cares about her.

On some level, I’m a firm believer that every little girl wants to know that dad is there to protect them. I think it’s even more important that along with all of the reprimands we tend to hand out during the week, that they continually here us say how much they’re worth protecting. If we don’t believe they’re special, why should they? Let’s face it, it’s easy to get lost in being “dad.” In pointing out all of the things our kids do wrong and the poor choices they tend to make as kids. We harp on them about cleaning up. About being nice to each other. Keeping up with their things. We’re the first to point out that doing summersaults off the couch and into the beanbag chair is not a good idea or that using your little brother as a bike ramp may not be the best choice.

I’m sure they get plenty of messages from us about how they’re doing things wrong. We forget sometimes that they’re sensitive little egos get bombarded with reminders of how imperfect they are on a daily basis. Not just from us, but from the world outside as well. Which is all the more chivalryreason we need to stop once in a while and remind them of how amazing they are. How smart we think they are. How pretty they are. How brilliant they are and how special they are. And that no matter what the current state of our relationship with them is, if they ever need us to “just be there,” they only need ask.

I’m not saying we should be demonstrating that women need men. Or that girls can’t defend themselves. That’s not it at all. To me it’s all about respect and letting them know that above all, we’ve got their back. This isn’t necessarily about boys and girls. Because let’s be honest, one day your little girl may bring home another little girl to meet mom and dad. For now, I think what’s important is to let them know that they’re important and that anyone, boy or girl, who makes them feel anything less than special, isn’t worth their time. To teach them to focus on being around people who lift them up and treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

Being a single dad (or mom) means being a lot of different things to your kids. I’m finding that as my kids begin to get a little older and start to get to the age where the idea of romantic relationships are coming into play; I’m already starting to get very protective. I’m not going to apologize for that. And honestly I don’t think my daughters would want me to. I think as they mature and start to hang out with boys, they need (and want) to know that there is at least one boy on this planet who thinks their honor is worth defending. Because if they can find chivalry at home, perhaps they’ll believe they can find it again in another kingdom.

 

 

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The Power of “YES!”

Several months ago my oldest daughter and I went shopping for school clothes. Despite our best intentions, it started out as an incredibly frustrating experience for both of us. I, the typical father shocked at the short hemline of the shorts she wanted to purchase and she, the typical pre-teen embarrassed to be shopping at A&F with her old man. We eventually worked through it, but not before several arguments about what was appropriate for a 10 year old.  For the most part the afternoon was filled with a lot of anxiety and some tears (from both of us).

Little did I know that through that pain would come growth and understanding. It was a necessary experience for both of us on many levels. We both walked away from it wishing it had gone better. Despite what your 10 year old daughter tells you, she WANTS to have a connection with you more than anything in the world. And when it doesn’t happen despite the best efforts, it crushes her internally. And in her little mind it all starts with
the word “no.”

A quick recap to set the stage. The very first thing she picked out that day was a pair of jean shorts. As
a father my first thought when she held them up was to sue the store and the manufacturer for
promoting the solicitation of a minor. And before I could even think, I heard the words “NO WAY” bellowing from the very depths of my protective soul. It was all downhill from there. “I knew that’s what you would say!” she proclaimed and we ended up in the car with her saying, “just let me shop with mom!” We tried one or two more stores and eventually managed to walk away with a somewhat successful trip. But the overall experience stung. And despite leaving the last store smiling with bags in hand, there was still a lingering sense of “man that was hard” for both of us.

Months later I would see the benefits of the effort we both put in that day.

Earlier this week we ended up at a surf shop in town. I was on a quest for a new pair of Vans and she happened to be with me. We struck out at numerous shops. She then had the idea of going to a store at the mall she knew would have them. “Perhaps you’ll find a pair you like there,” she said. In the back of my mind I kind of knew she liked the idea of perhaps finding shoes for herself as well, but that only made me smile. And so we went. We both tried some shoes on but had no luck finding anything either of us liked. Giving up on the shoes, we prepared to leave when she asked, “Can we go to Belk’s?”

What ensued was an afternoon of shopping I couldn’t have imagined. On this day, she invited me into
her world and I, graciously accepted, making a conscious effort to keep my “No” in check. She found some shorts she liked, which to me still seemed a little more “short” than necessary, but this time I suggested she try them on first. And low and behold they looked “o.k.” Not my favorite, but I tried to look at them a little more objectively this time around. I had discussed the last trip with her mom and the three of us developed a test for determining when shorts were too short. We also determined that some would be o.k. for lounging around but not for school. This worked wonders this time around as we both knew the expectation going in and had a means of knowing where to draw the line that had been previously discussed.

We eventually made several purchases sharing finds with each other and discussing the pluses and minuses of each. We didn’t really spend that much. She’s already aware of budgets and what’s reasonable and found some terrific deals. This again promoted the word “yes” and she knew that. Afterward we stopped for a snack in the food court and then headed back to the car. As we got in I heard her exclaim, “This was AWESOME!”

So what was the difference? That’s a long answer I think. But I think it all changed when the word “No” was put in check. Developing a relationship with your kids doesn’t happen during one experience. It takes time. It takes sitting in the car frustrated with each other once or twice. It takes compromise and listening and trying again. It takes a desire on both your parts to want the relationship. But most of all I think it means looking for opportunities to say “Yes.” We get so used to saying ‘No” as parents that it becomes involuntary. Eventually we find ourselves sticking our heels in the sand out of habit not really taking the time to consider the request or looking for ways to compromise.

Come on, be honest. How many times have you said, “I SAID NO AND I’M THE DAD!” Trust me the walls that puts up are tough to break down. To have your daughter invite you in is a gift. I learned this when she completely shut me out of it that first day. And so when this opportunity presented itself, I did everything I could to let her know it was safe and I was willing to compromise. She in turn did the same and it turned out to be an amazing day for both of us.

As I dropped her off with her mom I asked her if she had had fun. She hugged me and with enthusiasm said, “yes!”

 

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