Just about anyone can tell you that life throws its share of curve balls toward you. No matter where we were born, how much money we come across, or how much education we have, all go through both peaks and valleys throughout life. The peaks and valleys we experience are often defining moments that will shape us into we are or who we will become.
At the age 8, I had one of those defining moments. This moment could be described as more of a valley, as my parents separated and eventually divorced. After that happened, I didn’t see my father quite as much — every other weekend at the most. Being an eight-year-old boy, and on through my teen years, being validated by my father was something that I didn’t just want, it was something I needed.
Fast forward years later as I was about to become a father myself, I told myself I would never be that kind of father. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider my dad a deadbeat at all, he maybe just didn’t realize his importance in my life during those years. To his credit, my dad did ask me to live with him when I was about 10, but I told him no, probably because I was a little brainwashed by mom, to be honest. I digress, as a father, I vowed to always be there for my children and never take them for granted because I knew how my upbringing had affected me.
The result of my childhood produced an extremely insecure young man. In fact, I really wasn’t sure how to be a man. Nonetheless, I just knew I was going to be there for my kids. There I was, married at 22, and a father of three by the age of 27, still learning what it took to be a man and a good father. Another thing I never wanted my kids to go through like I did was a divorce. Unfortunately, the insecurity born out of the circumstances of my childhood contributed to me marrying carelessly. Once in the marriage, that insecurity probably contributed to me being a less than stellar husband.
At the age of 29, I was a divorced man with three young children. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wanted so much more for my children, yet here I was – another curve ball.
Well, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? That’s exactly what I did – in a figurative way of course. I was a single dad for about five years. It wasn’t easy, but when I think back, those are some of the fondest memories I have. I had split custody with my children, meaning I had them half the time. Whenever it was my weekend with the kids, we always did something fun together. I didn’t have much money at the time as I was trying to put myself through school, but I made it work. Even if it was just a trip to the grocery store to get some things for movie night together, the key was that I was spending quality time with my children. I delighted in my children.
I believe the way I approached quality time with my kids when they were younger has constructed a firm foundation of love and acceptance from them. Stop the record – there has been negative drama post-divorce for the children. I believe just about any child that is the product of a divorce, is going to be affected in some way, shape, or form. It’s one of the reasons the Bible says, “God hates divorce.” To me, children are the true victims of divorce. My children are no exception, but having said that, I truly believe that they know in their heart of hearts they have an earthly father that is rooting for them and loves each and every one of them unconditionally. The importance of a father in a child’s life cannot be understated.
You may be a young man (or woman) reading this who finds themselves in a similar situation to the one I found myself in years ago. I would say to you, know the power you have to make your children successful – even in a situation where the other biological parent is being destructive. A man once told me, children measure love in the currency of time. Spend time with your precious children. Delight in them. You will be better for it, and so will they. Sometimes you have curveballs thrown your way. Hit it out of the park!