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Dating and Divorce

First, let me say that I don’t believe there is one rule that fits every divorced person’s circumstance. There are a million and one variables that all need to be taken into consideration. All I can share with you is my own personal take and experience.

I had waited on writing about dating for several reasons. One of the big ones is that I had tended to go against the grain in terms of my take on dating while divorced. So I thought I’d wait until the time was right where I could judge whether or not my thinking worked or not. For me personally, it worked. After five years of divorce I have gotten married for a second time and couldn’t be happier or more optimistic. So what’s my take on dating and how does it differ from conventional thinking?

I’ve heard the rule, “wait six months before you introduce your kids to someone you’re dating.” I’ve heard the reasons as well. But here’s the thing; I disagree with many of them and here’s why.

  • Conventional Rule: “You should know you’re in love and ready to marry someone before you introduce them to your kids.” Sorry, but this is, in my humble opinion, so off base and backwards. Assuming we’re talking about younger children, the person you’re going to marry and their relationship with your kids is as, if not more important than the relationship between the two of you. How you all mesh and interact as a family is going to be crucial to the success of your relationship. If you feel this relationship has some legs, to me a next logical step is to see if your kids like the person as well.You don’t have to profess that this is the person you’re going to marry. For me, finding out that a woman is nurturing and can handle the temperament of young children is a big deal. For them to see me as a parent is equally important. To have fallen in love only to learn that the kids didn’t like her or that she was abrasive with my kids would have been devastating. So how soon is too soon? In my instance I first let the kids know that I’d met someone I liked about four weeks in and introduced them in a very simple manner after about six weeks. They were then the ones who encouraged me to keep going. In short they were very much aware and a part of the process.
  • Conventional Rule: “You need to protect young minds and hearts.” Yes, absolutely, this is very true. And you as the parent will know what your child is capable of handling. But here’s a reality; children will deal with loss their entire lives. Friends will move, loved ones will pass, it’s part of life. I’m not suggesting you introduce them to a new potential spouse every month. I’m saying, I think there are benefits to letting them meet someone earlier on in the relationship once you recognize there may be something there. As mentioned, you don’t have to say, “Hey kids meet your new mommy!” Keep it simple and just introduce them to a new friend. They’re not stupid. Kids are remarkably intuitive and will offer you some insights even you didn’t think of. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be there to help them through it and they’ll be there to help you as well.
  • “You need to protect young minds and hearts Part II.” – Personally I think we can overprotect our children sometimes. I tend to be very open and honest with my kids. I don’t hide much. So the very idea of keeping that kind of a secret from them for six months; sorry, just couldn’t fathom it. And believe me, they’re not dumb. They know what’s going on. And I personally believe they’ll feel a bit of resentment knowing you kept it from them and didn’t include them.

Bottom line: dating is a part of life that each of your children will encounter. You will be there giving advice the entire time and they’ll likely ignore most of it. Here’s an opportunity for you to provide them with a lesson in real time. I believe these are amazing teaching opportunities. For your children to be able to watch you navigate dating and eventually / hopefully developing a new relationship and to experience the good and the bad with you is an amazing gift.

It was actually my daughters who set me up on Match after about six months of divorce. So they were interested in seeing me date. They even tried to set me up a few times. Throughout the five years between my divorce and 2nd marriage, my children asked me all kinds of questions about dating and the discussions we had were invaluable.

I never took dating lightly. I was never into one night stands or just dating to be in a relationship. I only dated a couple of women seriously before meeting my current wife. And the kids new about a good number of them. They saw me go through the process and learned from each one through open and honest communication. Through it, they learned that there’s more to a relationship than just attraction and getting along.  And together we found a perfect match for all of us. I personally wouldn’t have handled a single instance differently.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in dating, Exercise, Uncategorized

 

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In Ten Years

In Ten Years

As I reacted to the natural call of my offspring (“DAD!”) for the 1,528th time this weekend, I recognized that I was starting to sound annoyed in my responses. Annoyed. Annoyed with what? Being needed? Loved? Not alone?

Overall I consider myself to be a pretty good dad. But every once in a while I stop and see myself as being a complete ass. I allow my ever evolving, busy life to cloud my judgement and get in the way of valuing what’s really important. It’s the moments when I’m in the middle of something personal or maybe working from home (which I’m remarkably fortunate to be able to do from timeIMG_8576 to time), maybe typing an e-mail, that the adolescent piranha that can be my children, all seem to peck away at my aura simultaneously each with their own specific need, ie.”DAD can you make me a snack,” “Dad, my computer won’t work,” “Dad,where’s the remote?,”  “Dad I’m bored,” “DAD!, blankety blank didn’t flush,” “dad have you seen my … oh there it is.”

I’ve at times asked them to give me a minute so I can focus on the task in front of me assuring them that I’ll be with them in a minute. By the tenth time, I know I can come off somewhat rudely. Something about the same question being asked ten times within five minutes will cause that.

Yet, it’s those moments when I get made at myself for reacting that way. Because the truth is; in another ten years, I’ll miss the beckoning. I’ll long for just one, “DADDDD?!!!” And wish to God one of them would need me to find the brush their sister took without asking.

Remember, the days with our kids are limited. Embrace every moment, answer every question and once in a while, let the rest of the world wait and be the dad!

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in choices, Uncategorized

 

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Pace Yourself

Those who stop by here regularly likely know that I’m an avid runner. It’s been a part of my regimen since I was probably seven. I think what started it was my sister telling me I should be a runner because runners have small butts. But whatever the reason, it stuck and now nearing fifty, it has helped keep me relatively healthy and mentally stable.

One thing I learned from running was the value of pacing myself. I remember one particular track meet my freshman year of college where this point was very well illustrated. We were running the 1500 meter on an indoor track which adds up to about 7 1/2 laps. When the gun went off one runner from a visiting school just took off at full speed. I mean the rest12038670_10154254531642908_511981866436531684_o of us looked at each other and were like, “He knows it’s a mile right?” By the end of the first lap he was sailing off well in front of the pack. By the fourth lap, he was on the infield holding his hamstring screaming in agony.

I pictured that guy this morning as I was making school lunches. If you think of each year like a mile of a marathon, I’m on mile five. And let me tell you, some days I think I may have come out of the gate a bit too fast because I’m already suckin’ wind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the run and for the most part the pace feels pretty good. But man, every once in a while I get a parenting cramp.

As divorced dads, we all pat ourselves on the back from time to time. We make dinners, do laundry, help a kid through a school project, coach a soccer game, make it to every recital, have good heart to heart talks, drive kids all over kingdom come for school events and
playdates, make dinners, do laundry; wait I lost myself for a second. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. “GO DAD!” Parents know it’s a lot. And some days just getting the kids to school on time feels like a victory lap is in order. But know this; it’s a long, freaking, run.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know those first few miles you’re like, “This is EASY! Not sure what all the fuss was about!” Then at mile 21 you’re on the curb puking your guts out while your left calf muscle keeps involuntarily flexing. That’s parenting. Every mile the breathing becomes more labored. The hills get steeper. The sun beats down a little harder. And your legs get a little heavier.

So pace yourself. Stop at every gatorade station you can find. And hell, walk a few hundred yards from time to time if you need to. It’s OK if your pace fluctuates from mile to mile. Not every lunch has to include all five food groups. Not every breakfast has to be eggs, sausage, toast and juice. Sometimes a pop-tart is OK. Trust me, they’ll live even if every once in a while their socks don’t match.

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough!

I’m watching my kids and the issues they deal with on a daily basis and I swear, you couldn’t pay me enough to be a kid today. I thought my insecurities were overwhelming when I was a teen. But the social pressures to be “happy” and “popular” put on our youth today through apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, ooVoo, twitter etc. are astounding. You’re measured by how many “likes” your photos get and image is everything. And no matter how much you talk to your kids, convincing them that the persona kids project through social media is 85% bunk, is impossible. They see happy, perfect and popular and believe that to be reality.

But let’s face it. As adults we view people’s lives through Facebook and assume it’s reality. I’ve read research that shows that the more you view Facebook the more inclined you are to be depressed. And that’s for adults! Imagine a teen who tends to be consumed with self-conscious tendencies. No way.

I continually attempt to remind my kids that the truth is everyone hurts. Everyone struggles with self image and self doubt. But it’s tough to convince them of that when all they see is smiling happy faces on their phones. Everyone’s successful and has the perfect family. How do you compete with that?

I worry about my kids. And I likely over-react when I see them looking a little down or quiet. That’s a natural thing for a 13-year-old to begin with. But I do get concerned. I can only imagine what races through their heads on an hourly basis. Can only imagine the things they read12138421_10154296188072908_4156606227263288022_o in their chats. If I was inundated with that type of constant feedback from 500 – 1000 other insecure, hormone enraged teens I would go bonkers.

On top of it they get plenty of negative feedback from us as we point out all of the things they’re doing wrong. What’s that? Not you? Please. You mean you don’t consistently tell your kid to pick up after themselves. Or to be nicer to their siblings. You don’t tell your child that it’s not ok to wear “that” to school or to talk to you the way they do when they’re approaching teen years?

There are times when I see what my kids are facing and I can’t help but feel like I’m in WAY over my head. How do you help a kid navigate through the pressures of school, social media, images they see on-line, messages they get from advertising, video games and television. The world is constantly in their face and rather than feel safe pulling back, they have a deep need to be accepted and social.

I do my best but even I fall short. I’m constantly beating myself up for what I perceive as an error in approach. I want nothing more than to be supportive and encouraging. But there are times I see my kids make serious errors in judgement and in assessing situations that I cringe and can’t help but sit them down and force my intellectual will on them.

What a crazy time it is to be a kid. And to that end, what a crazy time it is to be a parent of those kids. I speak a lot about the importance of working with your ex rather than battling them when it comes to parenting. Our kids really need our support and they need to feel as much of a strong foundation as we can offer. A split home for them is a fractured foundation no matter how you present it. They need to see that it is indeed solid and the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to have them see their parents working together as a unified front on their behalf. Putting additional pressure of “handling it” themselves is not the answer. And by “it” I mean their parents.

You couldn’t pay me enough to be a kid today. But as for being a parent, I wouldn’t accept a penny. All I want is to see my kids grow up self assured and confident in who they are. And between you and me, I’m as overwhelmed with that task as they are. But we have to be in it for the long haul and just keep swimmin’. To do that I encourage you to be involved. Keep up as much as you can on social media trends. Talk to your kids. Interact with your kids. Listen to your kids. Seriously think about every interaction you have and how you can improve the next time. Be involved. Talk to your ex about what she’s experiencing with your kids (that’s right they’re still YOUR kids even when they’re at your ex’s house). You’re both on the clock no matter where the kids are. Communicate. Learn. Grow. The world is in your kid’s face. You need to be too, now more than ever.

My gut says the answer is to simple be there; be there and be there. To do your best to create a safe environment. For them to know they’re loved and appreciated no matter what they may be dealing with outside.

I could go on for another four pages on this subject. The truth is, I don’t think any of us have the answers. Sometimes it just helps to know other parents are experiencing the same things and that we’re all in this together.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

Don’t laugh, but I woke up this morning with the “Theme to Mahogany” playing in my head. If you’re unfamiliar with the Diana Ross hit, the first lines of the song go something like this:Mahogany-cover

“Do you know where you’re going to
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to
Do you know”

I was always driven by goals and aspirations. I knew when I was in 8th grade that I would move to Los Angeles after college and work in the entertainment industry. It pushed me and gave me purpose and focus. It also kept me out of trouble for the most part. There were things I simply didn’t get involved in because they weren’t part of the dream. I knew exactly where I was going to and loved the things that life was showing me.

So when the sun rose this morning I reflected on the past week and the question resonated loudly, “where the hell am I going?” Because frankly it has felt like I’ve been going around in circles lately. And between you and me, I’m usually exhausted by the end of each cycle.

It’s easy to push for goals and dreams when you’re 23, single and completely focused. When you’re bringing a previous life along, youspinning-plate-1 can feel like one of those performers on Ed Sullivan who spun plates, constantly running back to make sure the first plates are still spinning as you add new ones.

My dreams and aspirations continue to be many. Some are personal and others are focused on my kids/family. And I’m very much aware of the fact that some simply aren’t getting the time or attention they need or maybe not as much as I’d like to be giving them. I’m hoping this means they’ll simply take a little longer to bring to fruition and am determined to keep them moving forward. But the reality is, I’ve got a lot of freakin’ plates spinning and often find myself running around trying to keep them all going. It’s especially disappointing when you see one fall and recognize that the only reason it stopped spinning was because you were trying to keep too many spinning at once.

As Diana sings;

“Now looking back at all we’ve planned
We let so many dreams
Just slip through our hands”

Well, I’m determined to not let that happen.Need to spend a little time figuring out exactly where I’m “going to.” My kids need to see me achieve my goals as much as they see me supporting theirs. It may take a little longer, but one way or another, I’m going to get there. How about you?

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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