Covid-19 And Ageing Parents

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” famously said by Satchel Paige. Covid-19 is effecting the most vulnerable and most of the deaths are in the over 70 age group. My parents are both 84 and since the outbreak and especially the cocooning, I have unfortunately noticed a deterioration in their physical and mental health. I somehow became their carer without ever realising it and I am happy to do it. It is something I have been doing for the last 20 years but more so in the last 2 years. It is tough watching loved ones age and that is made harder if health problems exist. I can’t imagine how they must feel and even think about the fear involved. 

Most of us live a busy life and find ourselves preoccupied with our schedules and that is very normal. I have being making some mental notes of my experience of the good things I have managed to do and the not so good. The worlds ageing profile has grown massively over the last 50 years. In Europe consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the shape of the EU-28’s age pyramid; probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU Member States. In the U.S. the share of the population younger than 15 and older than 65 years has also increased in recent years. In China in 2019, population aged 65 years and above for China was 11.5 %. Population aged 65 years and above of China increased from 3.7 % in 1970 to 11.5 % in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 2.32%.

Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘The great thing about getting older is that you don’t loose all the other ages you’ve been.” That is so true and looking back over myself I have changed so much, physically and mentally. You can still be productive in your own life whist giving your ageing parents care and attention. Without a doubt it is isolation, boredom, and loneliness which is effecting my parents. Mobility is now becoming an issue and I worry that since the outbreak they have lost the ability to drive or because of everything driving would now be dangerous and this in turn will compound all of the above mentioned and certainly their independence! I listen to my folks talking about old friends and unfortunately a lot of them have died and this definitely has an effect on them, it is so tough. Even at 50, I miss some friends whom have died and death does scare me because my children are still young and need a lot of parenting to ensure they are ready for the world. The opportunity for our parents to attend social engagements are gone for the time being and friend can’t be visited or even friends can’t visit them.

Looking after my parents has become a top priority and the thought of them going to a nursing home is not an option I will take. I am lucky I live pretty close to my parents and can visit them daily to check in on. My daughters can video call and they love this. Of course they would love a hug from them but during this pandemic it is not an option. So virtual hugs are all the rage in my house.

It is not difficult to maintain frequent contact with your ageing parents. Even if you are not living close to them, technology lets us see each other and it means so much to them. Imagine if you could not see your child! There really is no excuse not to be contact with all the technology we have available to us. I am lucky both my parents are alive it would be so much harder if it was just one parent as I fear they would fall foul of depression.

I visit my parents on average 6 days out of a week and the day I don’t visit they ring me to see if I am ok. During Covid-19 if possible try to call on them. I can’t explain how much it means to them. Despite all the technology in the world there is no substitute for a physical visit. It works two fold where it is good for you to check on them but it is super good for them to receive a visit.

If your parents are not using modern technology, and mine were not! I urge you to teach them or quite simple write out clear instructions. A lot of these can be found online and a quick copy and paste and enlarge the print they will have the know how. Remember to turn up the volume. This is also of benefit to them and keeps the boredom at bay. There is also a whole new world for them to explore and chat about. They can also keep in touch with friends. My dad had a zoom coffee date with a group of his friends and my mum is on FaceTime to her sister!

Remember ageing parents need the attention of us, their adult children. I makes them happier and safer.

My Neighborhood, A Brief History, And The Coronavirus Threat.

My family and I live in Galway City Ireland. I live with my daughters 50% of the time in Bowling Green, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and famous because Nora Barnacle, if you don’t know, was the wife and inspiration of celebrated Irish writer James Joyce. She lived in this house with her mother and six siblings until 1904, when Nora left Galway and travelled east for Dublin, where she met Joyce. There is more to this street and it has no doubt changed over the centuries but I think the character has remained. 

#Coronavirus
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

At the beginning of the last century The Bowling Green Mills were in existence and renowned for their homespuns and specialised in tweeds, rugs and blankets. Michael Lydon also manufactured fishing tackle. At the entrance to the street the Church of St Nicholas was built in 1320 and Franciscan friars arrived in Galway in 1296. Us Irish and especially Galwegians are known for being laid back and we have an old saying “ah sure it will do for now.” In 1883 the numbering system of the houses in Bowling Green were in a disarray and there were four number 5s, nowadays there is just one number 5 and that is were I live. Our little street is now more or less exclusively residential, while the frontage of the houses remain pretty much the same the insides bare no resemblance to that time in history. Our little community varies in age, race, religion etc but we are neighbours and we all feel connected to our little street we call home. Galway was first recorded in 1124 and in 1232 a baron named Richard De Burgh took Galway and created a town. For centuries Galway was dominated by 14 families known as the tribes of Galway. The mayor and the leading citizens usually came from these 14 families. They were the Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, French, Font, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerrett families. 

#Standtogether
“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it. – Marianne Williamson

In the 16th century Galway was still a thriving town and port. The main import was wine. In 1505 some of the streets of Galway were paved. In 1610 James the first gave Galway another charter, which made the city and the land for 2 miles around a county in its own right. However Galway suffered fatally in 1649 when plague struck the city. Over 3,700 souls lost their lives. An extraordinarily rough winter along with the arrival of thousands of refugees from Limerick created more misery for the town. Sir Charles Coote allowed the refugees to enter Galway, fully aware that of the troubles that they were bringing to Galway. In August 1651 the English under Edmund Ludlow laid siege to Galway. After a long fight Galway finally surrendered in April 1652. Throughout the 17th century and 18th century Galway continued to thrive and in the late 18th century suburbs started to grow outside the walls.

#Cometogether
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

At the beginning of the 19th century the population of Galway was about 5,000 but fell during the 19th century. Galway and Count suffered severely during the potato famine of 1845-49 and there was a huge loss of population. A great many of the inhabitants of Galway in the 19th century lived in poverty and squalor. During the 20th century Galway revived. By 1950 it had about 21,000 inhabitants. The population of Galway today is estimated to be close to 80,000.

Galway is the European Capital of Culture this year and everything the City had planned will be affected by Covad-19 and I fear the opportunity to show off our wonderful city will be lost. For centuries Galway has survived whatever has been flung in its direction and the Coronavirus will be no different. It poses a very different threat and Galwegians will face it head on. Looking through my window onto Bowling Green the street is very quiet and eery. I haven’t seen any neighbours venturing outside so I am sure they are stocked with food and remain safe. This tight community will keep a watchful eye out for each other far beyond Coronavirus.

#Bestrong
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Community can be a formidable force, capable of achieving the seemingly impossible. To confront this crisis, we need to work together. My worry is, this is something we can’t see, there is no Hurricane damage, no tsunami damage! What I mean I fear people will become frustrated, bored and stressed and feel the need to blow off steam, we can’t go to the bar or gym we are stuck indoors. We all have a profound need for social connection and because of Coronavirus we feel vulnerable, a lack of control, we are scared! Soliders often speak of the bond that occurs with them on the battlefield, a profound human bonding despite the anguishes of war. Life makes no promises, today its frightening but today, tomorrow and next week Coronavirus will inspire kindness, connection and we will come together and support each other, lean on one another for strength, laugh. This is what a neighbourhood look likes. #Besafe

Our Children, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and the War Years

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) like the Second World War is a time of huge upheaval for our children and of course, us the adults. Whilst our towns and cities aren’t being evacuated we are adjusting to separation from friends and family. Many Grandparents and those who are vulnerable are scared and because of the threat posed we can’t visit to give them a hug of reassurance. There are no bombing raids and no threat of our men heading to war with the possibility of not returning. But this is a time where we must take precautions and adapt quickly and humanely with respect and empathy. Like the war, we will win but there will be disruption and shortages which will continue long after Covid-19 has left our boarders. This will have a long lasting effect on our children.

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.     
William Shakespeare

It is terrible to live in fear with the possibility you will loose someone that you love, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Unlike the war years we don’t have to wait for the postman, we have social media and communication is live whether by phone, text or video. I believe following Covid-19 will be our best history lesson! 

The threat of the Coronavirus is here and unlike the war the battleground is not being played out in Europe, Africa and Asia it is world-wide and will affect all of us. We are not trying to defeat Nazism but something far worse, something we can’t see, something hidden. We have a responsibility as family members, neighbours, colleagues, christians and humans to come together and unite to fight this virus. We can learn from the war years, In 1938 when war seemed imminent some precautions were put in place for instance air raid shelters were distributed, gas masks were issued and night-time blackouts were planned. Today it is social distancing, washing our hands, ensuring those who are at high risk remain at home and the washing of hands. We know what we must do to slow this Covad-19 down. The one big difference is there are no B52s overhead and no bombings just now a deadly silence, the battlefield is very different and we are all on the frontline. But we are lucky there are no mass evacuations of children, this virus holds no prejudice of race, religion, sex or nationality. There is no ‘Kindertransport’, to escape Natzi persecution. The British Government in September began a huge evacuation of children from towns and cities. Most kids travelled with their schools and lived with foster parents, an adventure today most children would dislike. Thankfully we have the control of our children’s destiny and remain with them to guide them through and beyond Covad-19.

Our children don’t have to live under the constant threat of invasion, our fear is Coronavirus. Thankfully the information to date on this virus is our young are at low risk and I hope this remains the fact and they will get to fight another day. Unlike the Children during the war years where many were killed at the hands of violence. 

Today our homes are built to our needs, and in many respects we take a lot for granted. At a flick of a button we have heat, water, television and of course the internet. War time homes may have looked similar on the outside but inside many families had outside toilets and a bathroom didn’t exist for most. Children often shared beds with their brother/sister or even their parents. In war ravaged Europe many homes were destroyed and families left homeless. Today, our governments are desperately trying to fight this virus and package economic resources to give many of us some breathing space as employment dries up. We may still have our homes but the fear of loosing them is very real.

The Coronavirus has completely disrupted the education of our children. Our teachers are working hard using the technology we have available to keep some sort of normality and of course ensuring are children are still engaged in their studies no matter what stage of school they are at. I have hovered up all of the help from our educators and during the so called school week have my daughters up and ready for home school. My patience will be tested and of writing this I have not suspended or expelled any of my two pupils.

#staystrong
#besafe
Never give in.. never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force.. never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.     
Winston Churchill

As of today I am going to introduce a diary for my girls to keep. I hope it will be a valuable history lesson and something in decades to come they can share and look back on and learn from. My Grandfather was prisoner of war for five years and his diary is kept in a museum, those times illustrate a truly horrific period in our history and I pray the times ahead for us will not be the same.

I look forward to the end of Coronavirus and celebrating how all of us made a vital contribution to beating it. Most of all I look forward to the change this will force upon us and the reminder of the responsibilities we have as parents, friends, neighbours, relatives and humans. Stay safe!

It is so important and fun to eat together as a family.

Murf relaxing after International Friday.

My favourite room in the house is the kitchen, it’s where we as a family can be imaginative, creative and share our experiences of the day or plan tomorrow. It’s the room where I have most of my memories. Some of my funniest ones are “International Friday” this is where each week one of us gets to choose the family meal. A lot of research goes into this and it does become competitive as we all try to out do each others meal. However you have to be mindful as we all have very different tastes so the dish must suit all. Tuesday is the day you have to present what you have chosen and detail the ingredients that must be purchased. When possible we will all go out to buy the ingredients, however this happens rarely! We all are involved in the cooking, including the dog who manages to lie in the middle of my very small kitchen and supervise whilst hoovering up anything that may end up on the floor.

There never seems to be arguments and we all pull together as a team each of us contributing and working in unity. I hope this creates lots of memories for my girls and maybe in years to come they may try it with their family. My big confession is I let them relax and do whatever they want after the meal thus let them off the clean up.

Family dinner is important. In todays world it would be so much easier to forget about this meal, we are juggling jobs, children and after-school activities to name a few. We are constantly on the move, thus feeling the need to eat on the run. At the turn of the last century dinner time was 90 minutes, now it is just over 10! Meal time is the only time when all family members are in one place together. Let’s face it some family members view dinner time as a burden and a chore at the end of the day.

In the last couple of decades the frequency of family dinners has dramatically declined by a whopping 33 percent. An American poll found that 62 percent of parents with children under 18 wish they had family dinners more often! The European Unions mission has set out to achieve universal access to affordable, balanced, healthy food to all through intersectoral policies of Health 2020.

Just because things have changed, does not mean the value of meals has weakened. Interestingly enough, according to research at Columbia University, children and teenagers who at least have a family meal three or more times a week are less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy food, do better in school, less likely to engage in risk taking ie drugs, alcohol and sexual activity. They also tend to form better relationships with their parents.

“More frequent family dinners are related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher life satisfaction.” Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2012.

We are what we eat and it is imperative we start to take responsibility as parents. But it must be more than just in the home where we educate, schools must get on board, our governments, we need cultural change. As a rehabilitated smoker and one that enjoyed a packet a day to not smoking it is proof that when we all come together and promote the dangers of something we can create change. I am not advocating removing peoples freedom of choice but encouraging that we have the information to make the right choices for our family without bias marketing used by modern day food companies. Case in point Activia yogurt said it had “special bacterial ingredients.”

In 2050 we will need to feed two billion more people. Our choice of food we decide to eat is already becoming very important and these choices will have consequences for our planet. In short a diet based around meat and dairy will take a grater toll on the worlds resources then one that is centred on unrefined grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.

As today is Friday and my youngest chose the meal which is chilli con carne, which also happens to be one of her favourites! I always enjoy the girls handling onions as inevitably swimming goggles appear on my little ones face to avoid onion tears. Every time it makes me laugh but she does have the last laugh as the rest of us are suffering with tears streaming from our eyes, even the dog vacates the kitchen till it is safe to return!

Finding Myself. Part 2

I have never got to grips with understanding who I am, what makes me the person I am today. I can safely say my children gave me the greatest gift. I am a Dad. Without that I really do not know what would have happened to me. I certainly do not think I would be roaming around the earth being me. Now my daughters can’t take all the credit I am blessed to have four people in my life that I can talk to without judgement being made and can always call them for council. All in all these people, these incredible people have helped me find my identity.

As a young man I was involved in sport and these activities helped me make goals. Unfortunately in life it is not always possible to achieve these goals but for me I have always struggled to have a balanced approach in realising why they were not attained. Time and time again I would fall back to being self-critical and become consumed with negativity so much so until all my motivation was drained. It has taken me five decades to get to know myself and know what I needed to do to change. This process has opened my eyes and let me approach myself in a more positive way. I suppose my life to date has been a journey to find self-acceptance. 

I was a casualty of the financial crash in 2008 and lost everything, the absolute feeling of failure is so intense and with that there were are a cue of people shouting at me in anger backing up what I already thought of myself. Things were said to me that have never left my conscious and the sorrow of letting down some really good people financially I will never get over. During this time I was truly alone and there was no God that was free to help me. This I had to work through myself.

My marriage quickly fell apart during this time as truths surfaced and we parted our ways, not before agreeing terms of the custody of both of our wonderful daughters. Common sense between both parents prevailed and only the best for our children was our focal points and goal.

All of these factors helped cement the negative perception of myself that already existed. I was defeated and every mistake or obstacle that came my way was proof of my shortcomings. Being a Dad kept me grounded and the desire to be the best Dad was my only motivation. Everything else I was able to park and all the negativity around me I fought. Perhaps this was the beginning of me learning to value myself or at the very least prioritising. My family and I were my motivation and goal.

I am beginning to learn to concentrate on who I am and not what I do. The negative noise in my head is slowly being drowned out. I don’t think of myself in that negative way anymore and those people that have judged me on may failures are entitled to, the only difference now is I won’t let them pull me down. Time to swim and stop sinking. My biggest lesson was to cease looking at my accomplishments either negatively or positively to validate my worthiness. My children and my four friends have guided me to validating my achievements by looking within myself and to my relationships with them as a monitor of my life achievements. Essentially this is my space to get my self-acceptance back.

Being fifty has been a wonderful gift and I have a quiver filled of experience and life to reflect on. This as given me a greater sense of well-being and a true meaning of the direction of my path/journey in life. I feel good about myself and want to nurture it and become the best Dad and friend to the people that matter to me in life and that I love.

I am not naive, life will throw lots more challenges at me. To deal with these I have made some life changes. I enjoy swimming and get huge head space when in the water and the added bonus is I am fit. I try to swim a minimum of 3 kilometres twice a week and sometimes three times a week. I have a goal this summer and when I achieve it I will share with you. I have always been a social person, now I am a little more guarded and protective of myself so only let my hair down in the company of my four friends. The power of positive relationships cannot be underestimated and this supports me emotionally and practically. I hope I am as good a friend to them as they are to me. I enjoy our very different personalities, opinions and sometimes beliefs and especially their honesty.

My goal for 2020 is to take setbacks as momentary problems and not as proof of my shortcomings and failures. I hope you are well and my experiences, shortcomings, failures, inadequacies, fight, strength and the want to be the best Dad and friend helps you understand you are not alone and you can be the person you are without prejudice and with ambiguity.

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Finding Myself. Part 1

I have always considered bullying as something that takes place in the school playground amongst children who are just being mean to one another. When recently I was accused of being a bully I withdrew myself and gave it some serious thought and dedicated a lot of my free time looking back at my childhood. Apart from the usual sibling arguments and the tactics deployed to resolve them by children which are still being used today, my childhood was no different to anyone else’s. I didn’t stop there I got in contact with friends I grew up and asked had I ever been unkind intentionally? It was nice to learn I was normal and well thought of amongst my friends from zero to eleven years old. I didn’t ask anyone after the age of eleven as I went off to boarding school and my time with my family was limited from that day forth.

But this reflection got me thinking and digging deeper for answers in an effort to find out who I am and my role within this time period.

Within the family unit which is very complex and full of very different personalities there is sometimes one family member who can feel excluded for various different reasons. To them this experience/emotion can cause a real distress. They feel left out, unwanted and not loved and believe their contributions are worthless to the family. As a child this can go easily unnoticed and become perceived to others as a personal trait.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and people including families can look to a family member for the mistakes, wrongdoings or their faults especially for reasons of convenience. Essentially this individual is being made a scapegoat. ‘Scapegoat’ was first introduced in the Bible, a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it. In most instances they are completely unaware of what they are doing and would absolutely deny it if they were confronted with this accusation. 

This behaviour perhaps is how families hide problems they cannot face, as we get older it must be a method of hiding problems, disappointment or resentment towards that family member for a misgiving or a sin. It certainly serves as an effective weapon to attack someone who is vulnerable at that time. The reality is this family member becomes responsible for everything that is wrong in the family. It serves a good purpose to vent their own frustrations, aggression and at worst hatred.

For a child to deal with this, well I can’t imagine and am not qualified to make a comment. As for an adult dealing with this, one would think they are equipped with the skill set to deal and cope with it. Of course this a problem, this causes the person to withdraw, makes them anxious and can lead to depression. It cannot be underestimated, the fear and self hatred this person will come to feel. Of course they will believe what they are told and will accept all of the blame and finger pointing at them despite the fact that most of it is untrue or at the very least completely their fault. Therapy, I found is a very good start to understanding the problem and if that doesn’t work then the only thing left is to walk away and severe all ties. This decision is by no means easy to arrive at but self preservation of ones health is what’s important.

The bottom line is that making someone the scapegoat is hurtful and damaging, whether that person is a child or adult.

When something unpleasant happens, we will naturally try to come up with an explanation for it. We explain it through our experiences, skill sets and knowledge. There are people who trust completely in their own answers rather than siding with you and the reality of the details and information because admitting their mistake challenges their ego and expertise. Example, “Why didn’t you just say no?”

I always valued fairness, because if you do the right thing or what you are supposed to do, you’ll get good things and visa versa. So I suppose people view if you have done a bad thing or something goes wrong you are at fault. Thus where fairness applies it is hard for them not to blame you.

Forming relationships is difficult, and trust is an integral part of any relationship and safety within that relationship. Can we trust them or not? Once a dispute starts, people may not behave as we have come to expect and blame you rather than accept that someone they like did something wrong. Accepting what happened violates their sense of security, making them insecure and even scared. It is important at times to understand what drives people to blaming and finger pointing. Ultimately they are trying to protect themselves.

Nevertheless you are driven by guilt, emotionally drained and confused feeling useless and incompetent. Perhaps there also exists a person who doesn’t see anything wrong with what they are doing, they firmly believe you are wrong and they are right and they are helping you by putting you down so you will see the errors in your ways and never make the same mistake. Boundaries don’t exist, this person is to be admired. The more you try to defend yourself the worse the situation gets and god forbid you try to share the blame. Anger raises its ugly head and the tables are quickly turned and everything now is entirely your fault, you are evil. There is the right way, the wrong way and they’re way. Offence is their defence. In essence they never make mistakes.

Im not sure if my desire to please everyone is a result of this behaviour? Perhaps some coping mechanisms I have developed have made relationships difficult, perhaps all of this is in my head and I need to rearrange my life and how I view things.

Coming to terms with being a single parent!

single parent, divorce, marriage break up, family, children

Marriage is this exciting, wonderful, loving, caring partnership! Unfortunately for some it stops. Of course, some marriages last and are truly wonderful or just last in existence, and then some like mine cease to exist, leaving behind a large mess and heartbreak. Marriage takes a lot of work, an awful lot of work that can be really rewarding. Ending the marriage takes even more work, especially when there are children involved. Im not sure what I expected or how I thought my life would change, and along the way I sure did get some surprises, some good and some, well, not expected.

At the beginning it was really nice and comfortable to have the bed to yourself. However it wasn’t long before I got lonely and it was not so much fun.

It dawned on me my ex was not going to be there, ever, they were gone for good and not coming back.

I didn’t rush things and I can say hand on heart it was the best decision I made. Everything hurt at the start and we were angry with each other, this insured time calmed the situation and we were able to think clearly and behave like adults and make rational decisions important to us and our children. Of course at this stage I felt a failure and had to continually remind myself this was not the case. The marriage had just reach its expiration date. I knew we were making the right decision for our family and it did not concern both our extended families. In truth I was doing a dance inside as I would never have to interact with them. My own extended family for the most part were understanding and time does heal and give the opportunity for everyone to reflect. I was purely concentrating on my children and pouring all my energy into them. The only difference now was I was doing it alone, no-one to bounce ideas off outrun for a second opinion. This took me time to adjust to and at the beginning I consistently questioned my decisions. I lost a certain amount of freedom as I had to be super organised. There was no-one to ask to stay at home with the children while I bounced out to meet a friend for a coffee or watched a game with some friends. 

I loved my wedding ring, I had it made and it was a little different. Taking it off made me fell naked and concreted the fact I was a single parent. Eventually I carved a plan on how to wear it. I spoke to my children and asked if they would mind if I had Mum’s name removed from it and inserted theirs. They loved the idea and now I wear it on my right hand. What really happened with this gesture is my children and I felt closer and it was my way of committing to them my love. 

I never regretted getting married, we have two amazing children and it was a time in my life that sometimes I reflect on with joy. Unfortunately it did not last and my family and my ex are so much more happier. 

Life goes on and within no time at all my marital break up was yesterday’s news and we became a statistic. Age has helped me, a very unusual statement so let me explain. As I reached every decade I embraced it. I knew each one was going to be difficult. As a teenager I was a car crash and my own parents must have thought what have we created. My twenties was all about my career and my thirties was marriage and responsibility, my forties was my marriage break up and I lost my career and was broke. I just recently turned 50 and I can honestly say on reflection my life to date has been wonderful. Now I am armed with hindsight and full of experience and blessed to have two fantastic children. I am eager to live the next chapter of my life.

The Journey Begins, Single Again.

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth… not going all the way, and not starting.” Budda.

new beginning, family,single parent, divorce, marriage

I never planned to raise my children alone. A huge part of my challenge was the adjustment of going from a family living together with both parents shouldering the responsibilities to doing it on my own. From my experience the way most seem to handle it is by putting their own wants and needs aside and immersing themselves in their children. While this seems selfless, if you deprive yourself of the self-care and time to yourself that you need as a human, it will eventually have a negative effect on the family as a whole.

Allowing children to be part of the household and do their part is the best way of engaging them, making them part of this new life and future that you are building. It is important to reinvent yourself and rediscover who you are and the person you want to become. At the same time you must make time to have a life outside of your job and children. There are many different things you can do and it depends on you as an individual. For me I like to swim, it allows me time to think and process things and the bonus is I cannot be disturbed. I also have a dog and more times then not I am left to walk her but it gets me out and if one of the kids join me its a perfect opportunity to have their full attention and learn more about what they are getting up to.

The very first thing I did when I moved into my house with my children was sit down and be honest with them. Everyone matters and have contributions, roles, rights and responsibilities within the house. I was and still am acutely aware that each of my daughters need individual attention, something difficult to deliver when you are a single parent but important to the development of your relationship with each child. I do my best to spend regular quality time with each child. I like to think we have some fun together and make every moment count. I try to do things that the two of us enjoy doing together. 

My rule to myself is never to lie to my girls, be honest and not sugar coat things so they become overprotected. I love my girls and treat them with respect, I am always upfront and being the only male in a house of young ladies I try to answer their concerns to the best of my ability. The times I am stuck I can lean on some very good and understanding female friends for advice.

Role models do not have to physically live in the house with you to have an impact on your child’s life. I have been lucky to surround myself with some true friends. My girls always come first and I have never been to proud to reach out for help. Early on I realised I am not a super dad, but I did want to survive. A balanced and relaxed lifestyle is paramount to keeping me positive and balanced. Not always achieved but when the status quo is maintained the results are impressive and my family are on the right path for their future and development. This is when Single Parenting becomes one of the most rewarding activities and could be a blessing in disguise to my own personal development as a parent. There is nothing like the shared moments with my kids, even if they are challenging, and especially because they are so rewarding. There is a true value in being a connected, hands-on, pro-active Dad interested in the life of my children. As a single parent, they will be looking to me and up at, for answers, guidance, security .

Being a single Dad is hard work, but the bond and connection I am developing with my girls is priceless and so rewarding. 

Although life is no game and can throw up some curve balls at us, but we get through it together. 

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” —Jane Howard