5 Scary “Girl Things” for Single Dads

When you get divorced you all of a sudden add new roles to your single parenting job. These are duties that you would probably not have had the opportunity to experience while still married. This is especially true for fathers of daughters.

When married the “girl things” were probably passed on to your wife to handle. Now, as the sensitive new aged single dad that you are, confusion, embarrassment, and often terror are a regular part of your day as your daughter’s increasingly feminine needs fall to you to figure out.

girl-sitting-posing-trees

No one properly prepared us to help our daughters with these girl things. They often pop up unexpectedly. My goal with this post is not to give you all the answers, but to give you some things to think about ahead of time. Warnings that will help you properly prepare your already frazzled emotions.

1. Boys (or girls) Let’s start with an easy one. Continue reading “5 Scary “Girl Things” for Single Dads”

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Did Motown Know Anything About Adultery?

Cover Image: By Motown/Tamla Records-photographer-James Kriegsmann, New York (Billboard page 13) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Did the Motown artists that sang about infidelity ever actually get cheated on?

I get it. You break up with someone and you go through different levels of sadness. But with infidelity it isn’t just levels. There is an edge to that type of break-up.

A break-up caused by infidelity requires…stages.

This post describes 7: shock, denial, obsession, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

The Motown artists seem to have never gone through any of those…or maybe they just got stuck in denial.

Take “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James for example:

I would rather, I would rather go blind boy
Than to see you, walk away from me, child, oh, oooh
So you see I love you so much
That I don’t want to watch you leave me baby

Continue reading “Did Motown Know Anything About Adultery?”

8 Things that Single Dads Find Sexy in a Woman

Earlier today I came across, and retweeted, the article 10 Unusual Things Single Moms Find Sexy In a Man written by Lisa Bien on DivorcedMoms.com. After reading the post pexels-photo-59497I wondered what the male version of Lisa’s list might be. What is it that we single dads find most sexy in a woman?

So I ran right out, got a coffee, and sat right back down to think about it. Unlike Lisa’s list, these eight tips (Lisa’s also work in the opposite direction, so think of this list as 11 through 18) are not based on interviews with other single dads, and are definitely not peer reviewed. They can probably be viewed more as Divorced Dad 101’s list of things he was looking for in a woman when he began dating after almost 20 years of marriage. I did notice that talking about yourself in the third person did not make Lisa’s top 10 sexy man things. Damn!

So, dear reader, please take this list with a grain of salt. Divorced Dad 101 dated for a grand total of 2 months before finding his sexy girlfriend, who in two years has not yet dumped him despite his occasional use of the third person when talking about himself. Continue reading “8 Things that Single Dads Find Sexy in a Woman”

A Letter to My Ex-wife on the Occasion of Her Calling the Police on Our Daughter

Dear Ex-Wife:

So many thoughts about a very hard week. And it all started with a phone call from a policeman, asking me to pick our daughter up at your house.

You called the police on our daughter.

Let that statement ring out a little bit. When I spoke with our daughter (DD) on the phone, and when I finally got there, she was terrified. Shaken. Her mother had called the police.

Why? Because DD and her brother had gotten into a fight about headphones hours earlier. Headphones. You blamed DD for being woken up. Later in the day, when she was trying to make you understand that it wasn’t just her fault, you ignored her. You were not able to deescalate the situation. You couldn’t hear our daughter, and instead called the police when you had enough.  Continue reading “A Letter to My Ex-wife on the Occasion of Her Calling the Police on Our Daughter”

Kids and Death: Scary Feelings Should Not Be Avoided

“I hate it when people die.”

One of my students had stayed after school today to make up some laboratory work. Her grandmother died last night. The other grandmother, who she visited in Korea in the fall, had died about a month ago. My student asked me whether it was ok to be angry at other people who are all of a sudden claiming to be her grandmother’s greatest friends, when these same people were nowhere to be found during her grandmother’s cancer. I told her that the one thing I had learned about death in my life, was that everyone responds to it in their own way. She and I spent the afternoon talking about death and dying. Continue reading “Kids and Death: Scary Feelings Should Not Be Avoided”

Top 10 Reasons Why Moshing While 40 Might Not be Such a Good Idea

In my recent post about whether I was going through a mid-life crisis I mentioned that in a couple of weeks I was going to be going to my first metal show in a long time. This got me thinking. We have floor tickets for the show. General admission near the stage.

I know that once those base drums hit my old instincts might kick in and I will be tempted to once again get caught in a mosh (do they even call it that anymore?). But realizing that I am now over forty gives me a bit of a pause. Is it really such a good idea, in my condition, to be thrashing around with a bunch of teens and 20-somethings?

So I give you the top 10 reasons why moshing while 40 is probably a bad idea.  Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons Why Moshing While 40 Might Not be Such a Good Idea”

Would I still be married if we hadn’t adopted?

The quick answer is no.

My ex-wife once said to me that she would either have a daughter with or without me. This ultimatum was given about a year before we finally brought our daughter into our home, about two years before my ex started her affair, and about five years before I learned of the affair and separated.

The moral of this story is that if your spouse is giving you an ultimatum then your marriage is in rough shape. Be wary. There are deeper issues that need to be resolved if the marriage is to survive.

I wish I knew then, what I know now. However, at that time I didn’t want to lose my wife, white-rings-decoration-macroand I convinced myself that having a third child, a daughter (my first two are boys), would help me grow. I pictured dancing with my daughter at her wedding, and I wanted to have that experience as part of my life. But I still wonder at times, with guilt, how much of a role my daughter’s adoption ultimately contributed to my wife’s affair and our divorce.

We adopted our daughter from foster care when she was six years old. She had been removed from her birth home at the age of three for neglect, and possibly abuse, but the abuse details were sketchy. She came to us with diagnoses of autism and developmental delays. Those were challenges that we felt we could handle, and I had said that I could not take on a child with reactive attachment disorder. I had grown up as a big brother to a boy who had been adopted and had the diagnosis, and I knew that was a disorder that I would struggle with. Most, if not all foster children, who come from trauma are special needs children, and my daughter’s complex needs became clearer the longer she was with us.

The first year was a year of continual conflict. Almost every day my daughter had a tantrum which lasted anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. She frequently woke up with night terrors. During her hour long tantrums I would often need to restrain her by bringing her to the ground and wrapping my arms and legs around her to keep her from hurting herself or her brothers or her mother. Although she never carried out her threats of hurting us with a knife, she vocalized that threat on occasion.

Even before the first year was up my ex-wife had begun accusing me of being an angry person. I would learn later that she started her affair with her business partner about 9 months after we brought our daughter into our home. Her accusations intensified and I began seeing a therapist to appease her. I now realize her accusations were one of the ways she justified her affair to herself and her partner. I was the angry, abusive spouse that she needed saving from. And I also see that the affair was one way she dealt with the stress at home.

What I now also realize is that the first year our daughter was with us was a year of growth for me, and a year of great frustration and stress as well. I don’t deny that I would often yell. For example, the night my younger son flooded the upstairs toilet so badly that it was coming through the ceiling and light fixtures into the first floor, was a particularly bad night. My ability to handle frustration was at an all time low. But considering what we were going through as a family, we would have had a better chance of survival if our relationship was healthy.

nature-sunset-person-womanAfter our divorce process had begun, my ex-wife accused me of abusing our daughter by causing a bruise on her arm in that first year. She used this in an attempt to keep me from my kids by filing a restraining order. I told the judge in the restraining order hearing that it was very possible that I had grabbed my daughter’s arm in an attempt to protect the rest of the family from one of my daughter’s tantrums. I told the judge the story of our daughter’s first year. The judge believed me, understood what our family had been going through, and vacated the restraining order.

I no longer have my wife, but I do have my daughter. She has come a long way in the almost 7 years that she has been my daughter, and despite challenges she is still working through, she is light years from the days of the two hour tantrums. I wonder sometimes whether I would still be married if not for the ultimatum. On my more confident days I know that my wife’s feelings towards me were already broken before we made our daughter our daughter.

I love my daughter. She has brought challenge, joy and growth into my life. And if you are reading this, and wondering whether adoption is for you, then know that it is a challenging path. Stress and frustration are part of the process. Do you and your partner have the self-care skills needed to help each other through the challenge ahead? Each of you will react differently to those challenges, and you each need a level of understanding to make it through and help your partner in the dark moments. Without that ability to support your partner…well…your story may end up similar to mine.

 

Dad Jokes: Music and Marriage

Berlioz_Petit_BNF_Gallica-cropOn our way to a college piano audition my son began telling me about a particularly large piece of music. He described the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz, which was composed in 1830. It is about an hour in length and is written for 90 instruments.

My son told me that Berlioz had written the piece to impress an Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, who he had seen perform as Ophelia, but had never met. Eventually his love letters and her realization that the music was composed for her led to their meeting and a marriage. It was a marriage filled with conflict, and they ultimately divorced after a few years.

After he was done with his story I told my son the very important moral of the story:

“Women should be very careful about marrying a guy with a big piece.”

When you have no more to give…breathe. Divorced Dad gives a speech.

When you have given and have no more to give, will you know where to go to replenish the energy you need to keep going?

It has been a while since I posted. Between the end of a semester at work, trying to bring closure to an agreement that my ex had been dragging her feet on to avoid court, my daughter struggling with the impending death of our dog and her mother’s cancer battle, my son’s academic struggles, and my other son’s college application process, Divorced Dad 101 had to take a back seat.

This morning much of this came to a head. I couldn’t decide whether the pain in my chest was a heart attack, remnants of a failed massage last night, or just the stress of being a divorced dad had finally caught up to me in physical form. Breathing was hard.

And tonight I recalled some of my own advice that I had given out to an audience a few years back. I have decided to share it here. A few years back the graduating class at my school invited me to give one of the faculty speeches at their graduation. Copied below is what I said:

Continue reading “When you have no more to give…breathe. Divorced Dad gives a speech.”