(Originally posted in a co-parenting Facebook group. Reposted here with permission.)
Kristen and I are members of many co-parenting groups on Facebook. We love hearing success stories, offering advice or tips when asked, and learning what other families struggle with (in order to better understand how to help). In one of the groups, we read an inspirational story by a woman named Jenn Meyer. She shared her story of being raised by a single dad and graciously gave us permission to share it with our readers. We hope you love it as much as we do.
Raised by a Single Dad
When my parents divorced, my dad raised me as a single father. He did not get child support from my mom, even when she was [court] ordered to pay it. He didn’t complain. He worked hard ALL day and still came home and helped me with homework. On the weekends he was up early making breakfast and doing dad stuff and he always took me to do fun stuff (like estate sales or car shows! Lol).
It was tough being 9 and having to get myself up and ready for school, but I had no idea no one else did that, too. I don’t even remember who told me what time to leave for the bus, but I always made it! It was tough being in school and hearing my girl friends tell stories of how their mom took them shopping knowing I didn’t know when I would see mine again. I would tell my dad everything and he always had the best advice.
Anytime I asked my dad about my mom, he always came through. He always made sure I had a relationship with her (even though he was angry and hurt by her because she cheated and ended a 17 yr marriage). Even when I didn’t want a relationship with her, he kept me motivated. He helped me through all the typical teenage girl stuff – even the stuff he really didn’t know how to handle. He would go ask women cashiers (who he made friends with) or friends about what advice to give me. And sometimes his advice was better than a mom could give (it’s just facts, dads know dudes).
No One’s Perfect
He wasn’t the best dad, he didn’t always have dinner made – sometimes we had fast food. I had hand me down clothes that were 2 sizes too big well into high school.
Sometimes he didn’t read with me, he didn’t remind me to brush my hair or my teeth everyday. We didn’t have money (which I had no idea until I was an adult out of the house), but he always made every birthday and holiday special.
On Christmas Eve he would take me to get the saddest tree (the Charlie Brown tree) from the lot, and tell me it was so we could give this sad tree a home for Christmas (it was really because we were broke and he wanted to make a deal). We would spend all night – just him and me – decorating it.
If anyone had ever told me I was poor or that my mom didn’t want me or that my life wasn’t the way it was suppose to be, or as great as I imagined it was, it would have broken my heart.
It’s the great memories of him making the best of life that remind me we don’t have to be PERFECT. No one knows what we are doing as parents, we learn as we go, we adapt, we grow and we figure it out, even when it seems like we are failing!! Thinking back on my childhood made me realize how truly caught up we can all get in the “keeping up with the jones'”.
What Makes a Family
What is a family? To me it was just me and my dad and an absent mom, and a sister who popped in occasionally. To some it’s a big blended family! And for a few it’s a “first” family.
I won’t tell you how to parent, but from my childhood perspective, from a young me, for the children everywhere – I beg you, please stop putting such great expectations on each other.
Stop bashing when your co-parent doesn’t do things the way you would have liked. Your kids have a life that is brand new and still forming, let it be good memories.
Let the kids be little and let them form and create their relationships organically. Don’t knit-pick!
When you are belittling your co-parent or angry about the way they parent, you are telling your child that their childhood is not enough. And trust me when I tell you, you don’t have to directly tell a child that for them to get it. Children are so intuitive.
Please allow them the memories they will cherish forever!!!
Please be kind, to yourself and to each other.
I’d like to add that now I’m a mother, a partner, a sister, a daughter, a co-parent, and a friend. Even in all my flaws, I do my best. (Also, I now have a great relationship with my mom which was aided by my father for years.)
Here’s a picture of me and my dad. I was about 10 and we were attending a wedding. He is in heaven now and I miss him everyday.
Thanks Dad, for the memories and the life lessons I’ll keep near and dear forever.