Advice from a Single Dad

A few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Lawrence Jackson, a local single dad who wants to encourage other parents who struggle to parent alone. It’s our hope his story helps someone. 1

TEZ: Lawrence, how did your kids initially handle the news of your marriage break-up?

LAWRENCE: The initial reaction to the divorce from the boys was upsetting. They felt like it was their fault. Both of us reminded them that none of this was their doing and we loved them both. We tried to keep the specifics and reasons to ourselves because that’s nothing they needed to concern themselves about. But our oldest kept insisting, so we decided together as parents to tell him about his mom’s unfaithfulness.

That was a terrible idea. Instead of being understanding he got angry and chose sides, and really went off on his mother. I told him that wasn’t his place and he needed to respect her—no matter what she did.

TEZ: That’s hard. And how did you deal with the divorce, emotionally?

LAWRENCE: The saddest moment for me came when I was shopping. A mutual friend of ours saw me and asked where my wife was. I broke down right in the store. I knew it was over, but no one else did. Although I’m the one who initiated the divorce, I was grieving. 

TEZ: When those emotions popped up around the kids, how did you handle it?

LAWRENCE: I had friends who eventually knew what was going on and they were very patient and understanding with me. If I ever just needed to call and have them listen to me vent, they were there. But I made a point to never speak ill of their mom while the kids were around. Not saying that I never did…but I was careful most of the time. My advice is to just always take the higher ground and keep your feeling to yourself. Vent to a friend, not the kids.

TEZ: Community is helpful but so often we men tend to isolate ourselves during a crisis. What are some other ways you found it helpful to have a community?

LAWRENCE: My friends were there to listen and offer advice. They saved me in many ways. It’s always important to have someone to talk to. You’re going to need help going through this. You can’t do it alone.

TEZ: Did you ever find yourself hovering?

LAWRENCE: I do feel like parents can become more protective after a divorce. I feel as parents we should check in on them emotionally, but not go overboard and draw more attention to what’s going on.

TEZ: When you consider romantic relationships, how are things different now?

LAWRENCE: Getting re-married wasn’t even on my mind. I got married at the age of 20, and stayed together more than 14 years. After everything that happened the last thing I wanted was to re-marry. But I have found love again. This time I’m thinking not about my own happiness alone, but the kids too. The kids will definitely know first if I decide to get serious with someone or remarry. 

TEZ: During a journey like this, how important is it, in your opinion, to have your life grounded in God? 

LAWRENCE: During this whole ordeal I’ll admit, I felt some force moving me forward. Someone telling me it would be alright. Someone greater than myself. There were so many gifts I received during and after my divorce that were obviously blessings. I’ve never been very religious, but I’ll admit I feel like a higher power is at play and he’s the one I thank every day.

TEZ: Yes, God desires a personal relationship with all of us. During my own journey, I realized a deeper walk with Him was vital to my survival. I’d love to talk with you more about that. My advice for single dads is to make sure they have a close walk with the Creator. What advice do you have for single dads?

LAWRENCE: Just breath. Be there for the kids. Try to keep the peace with your ex. Don’t argue in front of the kids. When you have time with the kids make it quality time and try to make it as normal as possible. They listen and see a lot more than you know. Give them a chance to express their feelings, and comfort them. Lean on your friends and family.  

TEZ: Thanks, Lawrence. It was a joy interviewing you and I’ll pray God reveals himself to you in ways that draw you to depend on him more and more as you father your children. God bless you, friend.

 

Bio: Lawrence is a single dad in Colorado who likes spending time with his friends and playing video games with his kids. He enjoys working out, fishing and the outdoors.

 

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