This is the second in a series of behind-the-scenes blog posts regarding the book, The Single Dad Detour.

At the start of Chapter 3, I mention a friend named “Rick.” A fake name for the book, but a real friend nonetheless. Rick and I were buddies from my days living in Polk County, FL. We went to church together and performed together in several drama productions at our church where I served as the Director of Theater Arts. 

On page 36, I mention how upset he was that the courts were expecting him to pay way more child support than he did before the divorce. I too, recall feeling victimized when I looked at the standard of living my kids had before the divorce and the much higher standard expected from me after the split. It was ludicrous.

But with Rick, who was now single again, it took him to some low places of depression and bad choices. In the book, I mention his descent into drinking and dropping out of community. He lost visitation rights with his daughter, then stopped his child support completely. But here’s the behind the scenes part or “the rest of the story” for Rick.

Rick and I slowly lost contact because we didn’t see eye-to-eye about things anymore. Eventually, I heard he started using drugs and had a run-in with local law enforcement. Then something awful happened. I never found out if the drugs were related to this but one day the news came that Rick had been killed in a car accident.

What a sad end to Rick’s life. His 13-year-old now had no dad and the only legacy he left behind was that of a dead-beat drug-addict. I loved Rick, even after he cut many of us out of his life.1111

Rick’s life stands as a warning to single dads. Don’t allow bitterness to have a foothold. Whether it’s toward your ex-spouse, the courts, or even a child who refuses to see you. Take the high road. Cling to Jesus and cast all your burdens upon the Lord.

He cares for you. He is your refuge–your strong tower.   

The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce released in February 2015 and became a work that is being utilized internationally to help dads all over the world. This humbles me and I’m so grateful for what God continues to do through the book. 

 

 

 

 

111111How does your morning start on Christmas Day?

As a parent, do you have plans or do you let the day carry you as it may? I’ve found I need to strike a balance between spontaneity and intentional planning. 

If you are a single parent, chances are you may have to share holidays with an ex-spouse. BLended families have even more adjustments. So being purposeful is important, especially if you only get Christmas with your kids half the day….or worse, every other year.

But strategy has its downsides and sometimes being less organized can be quite relaxing and fun.

I tend to lean more toward planned and intentional activities with my kids on and around Christmas. Rather than reading the Christmas story from scripture on the morning of, together we read verses from the birth of Christ in bite-sized portions throughout the month. This keeps our minds on Him continually.

Then on Christmas Day, I wake the kids to a favorite Christmas song and we dig into our stockings first. Afterward, we hand out presents and watch each person in turn, open their gifts.

But what about those parents who can’t have a perfectly planned morning? What about families who open gifts on Christmas Eve? Or those who have kids with special needs? Christmas isn’t the same for every family, nor does it have to be.

If you have limited time with the kids or you wake up to find Johnny has the flu, being flexible is the key. Don’t lose heart if your child isn’t patient enough to listen to the entire story of Mary and Joseph. If your ex shows up early and you’re not done opening gifts, learn to go with the flow. 

Each kid is different and each year is different. There are things out of our control and we must learn to trust God when our plans have to be altered.

In the end, God is bigger than any plans I might have and I’ve learned to trust him. Nothing catches him by surprise. He is bigger than any plans that go awry.

Relax, trust God and have fun.

Yes, we must be intentional about honoring Christ during this holiday. But whether or not Christmas ends up being about Jesus or the presents this year, I have to remind myself, the kids will remember most the atmosphere in the house.

So when things don’t go as planned, I can either emit peace or turmoil during this season. A peaceful spirit eventually makes room for Christ–but rigid control never welcomes Jesus into the mix.  222222

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Today’s post was written by guest blogger and single mom, Alex Hall.
 
The holidays have arrived, and normally your kids would be delirious with excitement, chatting about the presents they hope to receive and upcoming holiday parties they plan to attend.
But this year is different. You’re recently single, and the holidays will never be the same again.
Whether due to a death or divorce, the entire family is still grieving. Suddenly everything seems uncertain and strange. How can you help your children move past the pain so they can fully embrace the holidays? Here are 4 easy tips to help.
 
Don’t Celebrate at Warp-Speed
You may think that since your kids are sad, you need to shower them with expensive gifts and go to every holiday event in your community. That’s not necessary or even helpful.
Instead of focusing on material things and constantly being on the go, take time to slow down. Your children will appreciate that you’re focused on their happiness.
They don’t need a mountain of gifts to realize you still love them. Be patient with your children, your family and yourself. Celebrating the holidays after a tragedy is confusing and tainted with sorrow. Keep things simple so you and your family can enjoy the holidays without getting overwhelmed.
 
Make New Traditions
For years, your family has celebrated the holidays with certain family traditions. To help with the grieving process, ask your children if they want to change some of the holiday traditions.
Maybe you can celebrate at a grandparent’s house, take the kids to a movie or stay in your pajamas all day. Do you always make a special breakfast? Go out to eat this year.
If your divorced and the ex-spouse has the kids for Thanksgiving Day, consider celebrating with the kids the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Your kids may eventually enjoy celebrating the same holiday twice.
 
Do Fun Holiday Activities
Find fun holiday activities your kids will enjoy. Watch classic holiday movies as you cuddle together in front of the fireplace. Make snow angels, go ice skating, or whip up some hot cocoa and homemade cookies.
These activities may seem simple, but your kids will enjoy spending quality time with you and it may help ease the blues of not having both parents present.
 
Volunteer
Sometimes you can deflect your own grief if you spend time helping others. This is also true for your children.
Try volunteering at a soup kitchen, participating in a toy drive or visiting a nursing home to spend time with elderly people who may be lonely during the holidays. Seeing the joy that giving brings will boost your children’s self-esteem and increase your own joy during the holiday season.
Celebrating the holidays after a death or divorce isn’t just painful for you–it’s painful for your children. This is the time to reassure them that they’re still safe and loved.
It’s a time to create new holiday traditions as well as learn to explore creative ways of celebrating cherished holidays. While these weeks may be bittersweet, if you focus on making the celebrations simple but heartfelt, you can help your children deal with their grief and embrace the delight of the holidays.
 
Now it’s your turn. What ways have you survived the holidays alone? Share your suggestions with us in the comments.
 
 
GUEST BIO: Alexis Hall is a single mom to three kids. She created SingleParent.info to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She works as an in-home health nurse. When she isn’t working or spending time with her kids, she enjoys running and hiking and is currently training for a triathlon.

My 29-year-old son hasn’t spoken to us in almost four years.Prodigal-Son father

The last time he communicated he made it clear he didn’t want any of us (me, his step-mom, his little sisters, his uncles/aunt or cousins) in his life. I won’t go into the bad choices he’s made nor the consequences he’s suffered. All I know is my heart is broken and I’m hurt. Both by how he’s living and how he’s treated us. 

We were once so close. Now, for some reason (maybe shame?) he refuses to give a valid reason for breaking off this relationship. So how do you pray for a child who you no longer know? When you have no idea where he is, where he works, or if he’s even alive? 

I just pray. I pray in generalities–for his health, his mental state, his relationships, and most of all I pray for his spiritual life. I ask God to steer him back to Christ. I pray dangerous prayers like, “Whatever it takes God, bring my son back to you.”

That’s the desperate prayer of a father who longs above all else to see his son walk upright. I long to see him in a deep relationship with his Creator. That’s how I raised him. 

You might have a prodigal. A son or daughter who has drifted from or refused to take part in the godly inheritance meant for them. How do you pray when you’ve run out of words–run out of energy?

Here’s a few points to jump-start your prayer for him or her:

          Dear Heavenly Father,

  • God, transform me and my attitude. Take away any bitterness and grudges against my child so I can pray with a pure heart. Give me the strength to continue in this battle. When I’m tired and just plain sick of it, give me compassion and mercy. Not to be taken advantage of, but to mirror Christ’s love. Help me remember that speaking truth might be hard, but it doesn’t have to be harsh. 
  • Lord use my son or daughter’s friends. Use even his/her questionable friends to speak truth into their life. Bring godly people into their life. Surround them with loving community. 
  • Father if you must, let my child hit rock bottom. Cause them to see their desperate need for a Savior. Prevent people from enabling them or rescuing them too early. Allow my child to feel the reality of being at the end of the rope. 

Coming back to the Lord is a process, not an event. So don’t give up. Keep on praying. Keep believing. You never know what God will do. When you pray for a loved one who seems hardened against the Lord, or against you, pray that the eyes of their heart might be opened so that the light of God can come flooding in.

Do you have a prayer that has helped you cope as you await the return of your prodigal? Please share it with me. I need it this week. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s it gonna be? What new leaf are you planning to turn over?

Mine is a manuscript. I want to finish my 4th book (working title…”Pre-Launching: How to Prepare Your Teen for Successful Adulting”)

My agent is anxious to see the first few chapters and that has me both excited and nervous. Afraid of failure or rejection.

What if this book isn’t good enough? What if my agent can’t find an interested publishing house when he tries to pitch the idea? B

It’s enough to make me give up. After all, I’m not a great parent. I fail all the time. What do I possibly have to offer? Add in another dozen or so self-defeating comments and I’m ready to call it a day.

Ever feel like that? Especially when it comes to New Year’s resolutions?

Our resolutions for parenting are the worst. I’m gonna be more understanding. I’m gonna yell less. I’m gonna be more involved at their school. Cook healthier dinners. Start a family Bible study. The list goes on.

We set so many high standards for ourselves, it’s pretty easy to fail.

It’s funny. I have no problem accepting grace from God when I need it (which is pretty often). But I can’t seem to give it to myself. Why is that?

I think it comes from a belief that people are bigger than they are. That somehow, what they think of me is so important that I forget to care what God thinks of me. In essence, people are big and God is small.

Yikes! Sorry, God.

In reality, if we are his children, He thinks you and I are pretty awesome. He views us through rose-colored glasses.

Does this mean we should stop trying to improve ourselves? Of course not, especially when it comes to walking closer to God.

But accepting who we are and how God made us is important. God created you to be the perfect parent for your child(ren). He paired you up with your kids because you’d be perfect together as a family. Sure we’re gonna fail as parents from time to time. Sure we could use a few New Year’s resolutions when it comes to parenting.

But I’m learning not to base my proposed improvements on what I think society wants me to be. Rather, I want to be all that God created me to be and desires of me. Flaws and all. AThere’s a lot of new pressure for a new year. But Philippians 3:12 reminds me, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet. But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. ” (Living Bible)

How about you? What areas do you struggle with when it comes to other’s opinions of you as a parent? How do you navigate through that? Share with us in the comments.