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Practical applications for Love 3-25-09

My youngest daughter turned 7 last Friday. Typically this is a time when her mother and I, though divorced, spend time in each other's presence in a most healthy way. This year though, my daughter wanted to have a sleep over. I began to feel a desire to question whether this was being steered in some way as the sleep over was, with each conversation, becoming more exclusionary to me attending any portion of the event. In the end, I was excluded all together from the event itself. The possibility of steering triggered me, and I was sad that I would, for the first time, miss one of my daughter’s birthdays. Along with sadness came anger toward the person I perceived might be doing the steering.

So I did what I do and asked Love to return me to positive intention where the mother of my children is concerned. Once this desire was voiced, I saw clearly that it might just be me feeling that it was steered, but that whether or not it was, it did not have to be a problem. In relieving myself of the “problem” perspective, Love let me see a path that was even better than attending an event that would not necessarily be enhanced by my presence. After all she would be playing with her friends in her house and daddy would be little more than a distraction. However it is important that my daughter know how much I value the day she came into my life. Now that this was not a problem I saw that it might be a solution.

See, try as I do, it is very difficult to get one on one time with my daughters. Here was an opportunity to do just that. So without a hint of anger, but rather excitement about a new plan, her mother and I discussed me having some time with my daughter on Saturday after the other children left. Since I approached this without sadness or anger it was easy to negotiate this, and I had a very simple and wonderful time with my seven year old on Saturday. We went to the bookstore and picked out some books, she had a little birthday money and we discussed options of what she could do with it, and we had a wonderful lunch together including ice cream. In the end I got to see my youngest daughter a little more independent than usual as it was just us. I will cherish this day forever, and now I might just steer the birthday celebrations, so that I get one on one time every birthday with each of my daughters. OK I won’t steer, but at least I’ll let my desire be known during the planning stages of future birthday celebrations. This has also relit the fire that I once felt for how important this one on one time is. Due to the reinvigorated flame I will be trying once again to negotiate one on one time with my daughters. Even though in the past this has become a very difficult discussion, perhaps Love can show me the way.

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Comment by Erin Michelle on April 4, 2009 at 6:49pm
I love the way you worked this out.
Comment by Jeanne on March 29, 2009 at 5:12pm
Its wonderful to read this discussion and realize the evolution fatherhood has achieved. ...can't say I ever heard fathers when I was a kid having a conversation like this. I'm currently doing a study on the experience of stigma for stay at home fathers... similar but different for single fathers, both custodial and non-custodial. No matter, it is heartening. Blessings to both of you.
Comment by drmike on March 25, 2009 at 4:53pm
SHARING IS CARING..............


Good job Pops! I'm glad you did not explode, because really it would only make things worse. The fear, anger, rage progression can be broken with simple techniques you described above. Taking a step back and thinking of a better alternative is where it is at. The kids don't have to be exposed to negativity. Mommy bashing gets us no where.

Whereas your daughter is 1.5 years older than my kid, I have been consistently on the single dad thing for a good 5 years. It was hard at first, but I've finally realized with my own son that he really is not (and likely will never be) into the "taking sides" thing. He loves mommy, and he loves daddy. He expects us to act civilized, and be grown ups. I have to do this, or otherwise he'll start running his own show and be even more like me than I want.

You are making a great observation as to whether this is really "steering" or just your own fabrication. Either way, what is important is a demonstration that she is loved, and you will be doing it whether you are actually there or not! Kids want that from you, and often feel more cherished when you aren't necessarily showing it. Indirect love carries awesome weight.

I believe this is an example. Today, I went down to the kindergarten for the teacher, parent conference. His school is right down the street from her house. She often shows up to volunteer some in his class. Logistically, I can't do that. However, I'm not there to be in competition for "best parent." We heard from the teacher about his progress, and shared what needs to be done to maintain and improve on it. To me this action counts just as much as a birthday. I rather he not even know I was there--something I'm told is a great spiritual principle (non-disclosure, and not taking credit for good deeds). Whereas birthdays are important, each day is just as important. Often I ask if a sentimental landmark is more for me or my kid. Although I do not get to see my son everyday, I make a point to call him occasionally. Even if the call is not answered I still took the action to call. I feel that it is important the non-custodial parent get adequate alone time, and then set the tone that both parents have equal pull in the welfare, education, and overall well being. This may take legal action if the other party won't agree, but that's another story.

I recognize that often kids will want to be with other kids at times. He's in Tae Kwon Do, and had a fit one day when I came to get him, because he wanted to stay with his cousin--who is close like a sister. I had to divorce my ego, and ask what is best for him. With that, I had to concede to her to use "my time" and just stay out of the way. Just like I can't wear his clothes, I can't live his life. I can only be there to be supportive that it is moving in the right direction.

That said, I put in my spring break request to be with Mr. Sir for time to play golf and watch the Master's tournament on CBS. We also watch the US Open, as it falls on Father's Day. And this will be mostly uninterrupted by Tae Kwon Do and mommy stuff in two weeks!

Caring is sharing. Getting to where I can love by doing what is best for others, even if it is at odds with my ego has taken a lot of prayer, meditation, and practice in humility. I'm happy to see you moving in a similar direction.

Best Regards,
Mike

        

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