Who am I?
– My name is Chris, and as mentioned, I am my kids’ Dad. Through choices, circumstance, trial, error, triumph and failure I have gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding about how to remain an important presence in my children’s lives. This skill helped me have success despite an uncooperative ex-spouse, distance, manipulation, alienation, and how to do it without harming my kids.
I had to learn this stuff on the fly, and it was not easy. I had to challenge and change my attitudes about childhood and fatherhood. I had to go full-bore with discussion and the application of reason, and learn from my kids what level I had to work within to have success. I could go on for hours about all the lessons learned (and plan to do so as we grow, share and move on here), but the ultimate lesson was as simple as it was profound. In fact, it took me nearly 9 years to understand that I was even learning this lesson. It hit me when I finally saw the type of fruit I hoped would be borne of my efforts with my sons… and it took almost 9 years of consistency, honesty, rolling with some nasty and unfair punches, never blaming or manipulating, and putting my own suffering, anger, hopelessness and helplessness aside so I could stick to my goal: establishing and maintaining the best relationship I could have with my sons, no matter what. I had to recognize the powerlessness of my position (and it was powerless), come to grips with it, and move forward anyway. It was a long, tough road to hoe and I won’t be done with it until I draw my last breath. I had great support from my wife, my parents, sister, friends… but their support was pained when they saw how much I was struggling, hurting, and that I kept going anyway.
Words can’t adequately describe the kind of gut checks one goes through when they come face to face with what “no matter what” means in their commitment. These moments reveal to us what kind of stuff we’re made of. I learned that I am a dedicated father who loves his children more than anything he can conceive of. I learned that nothing (and I mean nothing) will deter me or keep me from doing what I must to love, care for and provide for my children. I discovered that I’ve never been as passionate, as dedicated, or as committed to being the best I can be at anything more than I am to being the best Dad I can be.
I’ve got my faults, and as mentioned, I have made plenty of mistakes along this route. My hope to is provide insight from my own experiences, triumphs and failures to other Dads who are in a similar situation. Through this work, I hope to encourage men to stay the course, to be grateful for the blessings of their children, and to recognize the power they have over the future we’ll all inhabit in the example they set for their kids. I want this to be a “big deal.” It sure as hell ought to be. The gravity of responsibility for another human life ought to be felt full-on, and preferably before one decides to have children. I can’t think of anything more precious or important to me than my kids, and I understand the power of the example I set. Hell yes this is a tough path to walk because… it requires you to remain mindful of your words and deeds. It requires you to remember that if you want your children to be (loving. loyal, honest, hard-working, kind, gentle, thoughtful, considerate, responsible, charitable, has a sense of humor, laugh at themselves et. al.), then you must consistently demonstrate those traits. The hopes you have for your children are made manifest in the way you live your life. That example, whether good, bad, meh or whatever, will play a critical role in your kids’ lives, so I think that example ought to be the very best one we can provide, at all times. You’re going to mess up, but that’s ok. Those mistakes will give you the opportunity to demonstrate honesty and humility to your kids. They’ll see that “even you” make mistakes, and if you own it without excuses and ask forgiveness, they will learn to own their mistakes and ask forgiveness, too. 😉
Additionally, I have been a “step” Dad to two daughters for the last 8 years. I had a “step” Dad, too… He chose me and my sister, and we are both so very grateful he did. I chose these little angels, and they chose me, too. I have learned many an important lesson about how to foster a positive environment for my girls’ relationship with their father, and also how to raise girls (differences between them go far beyond the equipment they’re born with). I have learned just as much from being their Daddy as I have from being a non-custodial Dad, and am only too happy to help “step” Dads strengthen their relationships with their “step” kids, act as a buffer between the kids and disagreements between their biological parents, establish and grow trust, correct without violence or force, establish yourself as a trusted mentor, and keep your own mind “straight” when stuff happens because it will… and how you react to challenges will provide a blue print for how your kids will do it in the future.
Again, my name is Chris. Helping fathers strengthen their commitment to and relationships with their kids is my purpose and passion. I do not know everything (not hardly), and things I’ve tried and had success with may not work for you, but if you’ll give me the opportunity, I’m sure that I can help you figure out, apply and stick something that does.
I offer assistance to mothers as well. It may do well for them to get a man’s perspective on a particular issue they’re having with their kids’ father, and then use that perspective to limit or eliminate harm. Ideally, both parents would be willing to put their own issues and emotions aside to co-create a peaceful solution to the problem, but… that’s the ideal circumstance. If that isn’t your circumstance, don’t be dismayed. More importantly, don’t give up. NEVER GIVE UP. Your kids deserve much better from us than that… and we deserve better from ourselves.