I remember distinctly the feeling of losing my freedom. The weight of responsibility strangled me to the point of submission and I gave into the domination of a child over my schedule, desires… and everything.
I watched my freedom go away. Freedom in the form of flexibility and independence. Getting married was painful – but at least I was partnering with a logical adult. Kids can take everything from you, and it doesn’t get better – you just get used to giving things up. I have days (even now) when I just want to raise up a white flag and surrender fully. Many times I feel it would be easier to give up completely instead of fighting to keep what is mine.
Truthfully, friends, we can’t give it all up. We have to band together and stay strong. We can’t let children run over us and cause us to give up everything we value. This is where we draw the line! Join me in the fight against these conquistador children we are raising.
In my opinion, there has to be a few things that you commit to never give up. Here are a few things that I am committed to never give up:
- Sleep – I concede some sleep, but I can’t give up a large portion of my sleep on a regular basis. Not getting a healthy amount of sleep (that is 8-9 hours for me) means I won’t be firing on all cylinders and ready to be the dad my kids NEED.
- Food – Don’t do it! Don’t give up adult food for “Non-food; kid food”. It is a mistake that you will pay for with your health. You don’t need to be eating chicken nuggets and macaroni for every meal. Your kids don’t need to be eating this either – but they are young and can bounce back, you can’t.
- The Future – You should have plans for the future that don’t involve your kids because, soon enough, they are going to have plans for the future that don’t involve you. Don’t give up planning for your future. The future will come and you should be prepared for it – even if it doesn’t involve your adult children.
- Friends – If your best friend is a 6 year old that is required by law to be around you; then you need to take back what has been stolen from you. You might be friends with your children when they are adults, and you also may just be their parent. That choice has way more to do with them than it does you. What is healthy for you, is to have peer friends right now. Don’t give up your friends. Giving up your friends causes you to put too much pressure on your kids that they can’t handle.
- Wisdom – You are smarter than your kids. Even if they can run a device better than you, do more complicated math, read at a faster rate, have a higher ACT score than you… you are smarter because you have more wisdom. Someday, when they have shown success and are 35 or 40 years old, maybe then you concede being smarter – don’t you dare do it before then. They call a 9 year old who knows it all a genius. A 16 year old that knows it all is self focused. A 22 year old that knows it all is a moron. A 35 year old that knows it all is in recovery. A 60 year old that knows it all; probably does. You have wisdom your kids don’t have. Don’t assume they know better.
As a single dad – I have days that I feel exhausted. I gave up my sleep, food, friends and, in an effort to get her (my sweet Bristol) to stop screaming, I gave up my wisdom. I hate those days. I feel like a failure, because that day I was. I lost, bad, to a couple kids trying to steal everything from me. The good news is that age has a bit of an advantage. If we are willing to fight a bit, we can change the rules in our favor and go ‘full dictator’ in hopes of winning a day. I encourage you, on those days when you think you will lose everything, cash in on your age status and win back what you have already given up. I know this is hard. Especially for you fellow “shared-custody-single-parents”. I know the thought process when you are weighing: doing the right thing as a parent versus trying to make sure your kids like to be with you. When Bristol doesn’t get her way the bottom lip curls, the eyes well up with water and from her mouth comes the most piercing words she can utter: “I miss my mommy!” It hurts, and often causes my own tears. I feel like a failure, but I am not failing – I am parenting. Bristol isn’t thinking about her mom, she is thinking about herself. When you feel the tension of good parenting vs winning more favor with your children, remember that no matter what you do – your kids are always going to love someone more than they love you. Themselves. You don’t better your children by helping them please themselves – you better your children by parenting them to more selfless decisions!
Those 5 things above, in my opinion, we should never give up. However, there is one thing that goes beyond my opinion: Never give up parenting in exchange for friendship. That is a lose/lose trade.