I knew I would eventually be writing about some delicate subjects in my life; my kids being one of them. I like to keep my kid’s lives private but for this topic my desire is that our new season in life as a family can be an encouragement to other single moms and dads out there who love their children deeply and want to do what’s best for them.
A year and a half ago my kid’s lives changed completely. They would transition from having one home with mom and dad to two homes with one parent in each. It wasn’t their fault but they’d feel it. Even though they’d attempt it, there was nothing they could do to change it.
My entire life I’ve wanted to protect them from all things bad; anything that could hurt them. That desire was magnified in this season. Sure, I’d made and would continue to make mistakes along the way but my goal was that they would always feel loved, heard and safe.
Through our transition I observed more vividly how they relate to me differently than to their dad. For example, I’m Milan’s girlfriend. He plays with my hair and caresses my face. When we watch TV together he has to be right next to me, basically on top of me, in order to be comfortable.
He loves to sleep with me and he puts one leg over my body the whole night to make sure I’m still there. Milan can’t see a bush with flowers without having to pick one to give to me. If I’m not around he will keep it safe, for hours if he has to, until he can give it to me.
Dad, on the other hand, is his hero. He wants to be tall like dad and strong like dad. Recently when his dad brings him to me in the morning, he gets to my house with no pajama shirt on. The first time I asked “Milan, why don’t you have a shirt on?” – “because I want to sleep like Papi!” he answered. I laughed.
One night, as we were getting ready for bed I noticed Milan’s eyes get a little watery like he wanted to cry. “I want Papi”, he said, and busted out in tears. It wasn’t just that he wanted him. I sensed it in him that he needed him. I don’t know what it was but I knew in my heart that all the mom-love in the world wasn’t going to fill his little heart in that moment.
So I called his dad and asked if it was okay that he come and get him for the night. He came over and Milan melted in his arms. It was magic. We ended up calling that “girls and boys night”. Mikayla was so excited to only be with me.
Until this day, we still have those every so often. They even ask for it sometimes. Mainly when they’ve had enough of each other they’ll ask excitedly as if it were their creation, “mom can we have girls and boys night?” Ha!
I understand that all of our stories are different. Earlier I wrote “I called… and he came over to get him” and I am completely aware that there is a chance your child may not have a father that is present or maybe a father that is around but is irresponsible.
So, when I decided to write this blog, I called one of my closest friends who would likely have some insight into the importance of a father in our life.
My friend Stephany has faithfully lead a care group called “Celebrate Recovery” for over 6 years. Every Friday they meet and set aside the busyness and stress of the outside world to enter a time of personal development, spiritual and emotional maturity and encounter the love and healing power of Jesus Christ through an individual commitment to grow and restore their hearts while choosing to live one day at a time.
We spoke for a while on the subject of a father figure and here are some things interesting things I learned:
A Father Figure
“You might not need a dad but you do need a father figure.” Don’t get it twisted though. If your child has a responsible and loving father that wants to be present in his/her lives then they don’t need a father figure, they need their dad.
This part of the message is specifically and especially for the moms left to raise their kids on their own. Fatherhood redefines the image of who God is for your kids. God is a loving and generous being who loves our kids even more than we do. Therefore, if there is a loving and caring man in your life (a grandpa, an uncle, or an older cousin) then their fatherly influence over your child may be exactly what they need.
I can’t emphasize this enough though, choose wisely and even then always be alert. Sometimes the “father figure” can also be those that can hurt children emotionally and physically. There are moms that may want to give their children “any” father figure and by doing so expose their kids to harm. It’s not just any boyfriend you come across or guy friend that’s in your life. It should be somebody who you’ve done an extensive, FBI level background check to who passed with flying colors! (I’m not kidding.)
Even then, your children are your priority. Listen to them and make sure they know that they can tell you ANYTHING and you will not be mad if they do so.
A Mom’s Job
I have extreme respect for moms that have to raise their kids completely on their own. I think it’s hard sometimes just having to discipline my kids while they are on my watch. Honestly, it’s much easier doing so with a second parent around… mostly so you’re not outnumbered.
The truth is though, I am a single mom but I’m not doing it alone. My kids are blessed with a dad that invests time in them, loves them, teaches them, disciplines them… and the list goes on.
My job is to teach them to honor their father. At my house, we honor dad. We speak highly of dad, we respect dad’s rules and we pray for dad at night. I could be legit pissed off at him and fuming at the head for God knows what, but that will not change in front of my kids.
So here is my main message to all the moms that live similar situations to mine: Just because it didn’t work out between you and him doesn’t mean he can’t be an excellent father to your kids.
I understand the situation when there is an absent father BUT why are women willingly keeping their children away from dads that want to be present? Baby girl, do you not see that you are ultimately hurting your child? They don’t want him… they need him!
If you know you need to read this, let me destroy some unhealthy thought processes in your life.
Situation: He did you wrong and you are hurt.
Thought: “He is going to get what he deserves! He will suffer by not seeing the kids.”
Truth: You are hurting your kids more than you are hurting him. It is not their fault he hurt you. By keeping him away you are ultimately turning their heart away from you. They know that you are the reason why they can’t see their dad and believe me when I tell you that maybe they have to abide by your rules when they are little but when they grow up and they get to choose, you will have ultimately destroyed a good relationship with your kids because of your need for revenge and your inability to forgive their father.
Situation: He is not helping you financially.
Thought: “He doesn’t pay me so he can’t see his kids.”
Truth: YOU need money; your kids need their DAD. I’m going to be brutally honest here. I know kids are expensive but this has been my motto since day one: I am young, I am smart, and I am capable. It makes my life easier to get financial support but I want to be so successful and financially independent that I can get to the point cover my kid’s expenses all on my own. So please, do not sit on your couch and binge watch Netflix while keeping your kids from their dad because he doesn’t pay you. I much rather let my kids have their dad, hustle, and take them to Disney on my dime.
Don’t get me wrong, dads need to give their share. My kid’s dad supports them financially. What I’m saying is, his presence in their life is much more important than paper. If he didn’t support them financially, I would rather take him to court than to blackmail him with my kids.
Let’s wrap this up because I know it’s become my longest blog yet. My goal is that we create a life we love. How important is creating a healthy home for our kids? That they grow up learning how to honor their dad and how to love their mom; that they trust that we make the best decisions for them as their caregivers.
Let’s make better choices! Create a life you love… a life by YOU!