Single Dad Advice

digital world

What is the Whole… The Family that Eats Together, Stays Together Anyway?

Last night while out to eat at a local restaurant with my son, I looked around and seen several other families eating together as one unit on a Friday night. Is this also strange to you or is this still normal now days for families to eat together? Nonetheless, have you bothered lately to have a look around your house or a restaurant and noticed yours or other families actually still eating and engaging one another in this day and age filled with technology, social media, and life stress(es)? (i.e. and I’m not talking about all those families or yours that sit next to each other but are completely detached from one another either). Notice how many of you do this but also take notice of how many of you actually engage your other family members not merely sitting together while each of you operate in your own world(s) on your own digital devices or watching television. Now I ask… “does the family that eats together, stay together?” Do you think that this old saying is still relevant today?

Connected or Disconnected Family: What is the Right Recipe?

By no means am I an expert in parenting but I truly believe that this (eating together but not actually communicating with one another) is growing problem in America and throughout the world. Does it make since if families have any chance of sustaining themselves long-term just like a business they need to spend more time together especially during dinner. When I was growing up, I can remember dinner was one of the few times that our family actually connected with one another because we didn’t have many distractions. Let’s face it who wanted to watch television in black in white anyway. Now as a single dad I wanted to address why eating together (and YES I mean actually talking to your other family members) is still important to your family’s long-term success). Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen I must admit if you follow this recipe you will not only put food on the table but you will be back on the right track of putting your family back together.

disconnected

Take stock of what you have

Each morning when you wake up the man or woman that you see in your mirror is actually you. I hate to tell you but YES that person is you! There are a million and one reason(s) why when you look in the mirror you continue to make excuses for the life you have created. However, if you think hard about the things in the past that have lead you to this point (whether you are happy or not), I bet you can equate almost if not all of your positive/negative feelings to a point in your life that involved other people… especially family members, YES? My point is, we are all far from perfect but if you surround yourself with others that positively affect you and/or your family, you can begin to take stock of what you actually have or what actually matters most to you. This is especially important if you have kids since they look or are looking for that special leader in their life. So, how can you have a positive effect on your children? This is as simple as putting down all those electronic devices and creating REAL conversation with your kids well sharing a meal together and not sharing a meal together while everyone in your family is engaged with others in the digital world.

the journey

A brief look back

It wasn’t long ago that I discovered that technology was/is changing the relationship I have with my son. This is both good and bad. Therefore, over dinner the last night I decided to take a step back to think about the days I spent with my family growing up to help shed some light on what I could do to be the leader in my son’s life much like my dad was in mine. My dad worked extremely hard when I was young mostly at night, so we didn’t get to see him that often and likewise with my mom but the only difference was she worked the day shift. Split parenting at its finest. However, one thing my parents did was make sure that we all came together (i.e. whether we had to go to my dad’s work) over a nice family dinner every night, which I can remember being special even to this day. Do you have any early memories? Do most of the things you remember about your childhood include dinner with the/your family?

How about grandma and grandpa…

Having lost all my grandparents at an early age (all before I was out of elementary), I am not 100% but I truly believe that children without any thought are given the natural ability to love and cherish the time they spend with their grandparents. Does that sound about right? In fact, grandparents in most families = a long time lasting memory regardless of how significant just like having dinner together. Yes again? Like I mentioned I lost all my grandparents early in life but I remember breakfast each morning cooked by my mom’s mother and other dinners cooked by my dad’s mom, especially Holiday dinners…. Boy, were those fun! One reason I believe that I remember these things (all before age 8) is because we were not engaged in our electronic devices but instead engaged with one another. Therefore, if you as a complete family unit or as a single parent if you want to disconnect the young’ins then I highly recommend calling in the grandparents as an added resource because more than likely they will tell REAL stories (extremely important over breakfast or dinner) not digital stories thus bringing your family closer together.

grandparents

The effortless approach

Some of you may or may not already know but late last year I lost my mother. Before she passed away, one thing my son and I did religiously was cook dinner for my mom and dad most Sunday afternoons, which allowed each of us the opportunity to share unfiltered stories with one another. Okay, maybe a lot of the stories coming from the grandparents were retold to me but not to my son. This/these stories and memories made these days extremely important since they created new memories for my son (he still talks about them over a year later and he is only 8), which made me realize  more that this was approximately the same age I can remember having similar memories over dinner with my own grandparents. As simple, as this may sound there is not any excuse for each and every one of us to help create these new memories with our own children over dinner even in this age of all the new digital communication. Even though it is just my son and I most evenings, the one thing that I have/continue to do is make sure that we have dinner together each night (without any television, internet, or other distractions), so we too can create long lasting memories. Even though my mother is gone now, my son and I still have dinner with my dad most Sundays. Yes my father still tells my son about all those things I did to piss him off when I was young but those/these times are about as valuable as gold is to most people/parents since the lasting memories continue on long after dinner or a visit has ended. As significant or as insignificant as this may sound, as my child grows older, I have to believe that these dinners (whether with me or the family) will become the ammunition for my sons own success because he knows how hard/long I work each day to have this time we spend together each night without interruptions. The moral of this story is that if I as a single dad can make time each night (i.e. on the weekends with my day) to connect with my son over dinner, while sharing real life experiences you too can provide these valuable life lessons to your family and children over dinner. So, back to the question at the beginning of this article…do you find it strange these days for families to eat together?  My answer just like 30 years ago growing up is no, since these dinners provide the memories and fuel more of us need to tackle present and future challenges. If you haven’t given thought or perhaps have forgotten have valuable dinner is with your family I encourage you to continue on with eating together with your families and continue on with the old saying…

“A family that eats together, stays together” my friends, as I am sure you won’t be disappointed that you did.

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Principles to Live By? Oh, Really? What Little Wonders?

truthholdingDo you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself what events have or will have the most impact on your life whether today or in the future? Do you agree that some stories in our lives are like tiny ripples that do not carry much weight, while others are like large waves that hit harder, deeper, and with more impact? My story like your story is no different from a million others out there and it is no sadder, brighter, or glorious than that of someone else’s. Therefore, we all need to wake up and remind ourselves that it is just life and no matter what it (life) throws at you (us), it’s you… that ultimately sets the course of future events. Haha so what is the point? What am I trying to say here?

What is the story?

If you have been a reader of mine for any time, you know that my story is that much like a bag of mixed marbles. The more strange things that could happen will happen or the more marbles played the more different the results. Who said that anyway? Is that like Murphys Law? What may go wrong, will go wrong? After many difficult relationships (mostly cause of me) I spent many years as a single dad trying to figure out the who, what, when, and where of this single dad thing and trying to make my kids life as memorable as possible. WOW, that sucked! Actually, and while it may have sucked, I have had the opportunity to experience life as what life truly should be…fun, full of enrichment, love, and meaning.

Single Dad to Engaged Dad

Yes, and that’s right I have decided to take the next step in my life and marry the greatest woman that I have ever met. Not to mention that my kid is just one year ahead of her kid and they are like best friends. And, Yes… this is the woman of my dreams.  Needless to say and whether you’re in a relationship or going it alone you can benefit from what I have learned and the following the steps below in order to create your own healthy relationship(s).

betruthful

1) Be courageous…

…about realizing who you are. Many of us at some point decided that we would map out our lives—this could be as simple as where you’re going to live, how many children you will have, or what career you want now or in the future. This could also be encouraging or devastating to the point where you may not question whether it’s what you truly want or what life truly wanted for you. Therefore, when something unexpected happens that changes your life plans, shake it off, become vulnerable and encourage yourself to do more and then you can feel very more comfortable, brave, and ride those feelings (waves)because you may have just discovered what it is that you are truly in search of?

2) Be truthful…

…with yourself and others that you have contact with. Even though life hasn’t turned out the way you had planned or maybe it has, it does not mean that you have failed. There is no need to make excuses, judge yourself (others), or shy away from this truth. And YES… it’s okay to feel and hurt, as these are natural feelings and are a part of being honest with yourself. Accept what is and learn… it is what it is. The sooner you realize this the sooner you will be able to think clearly and take the next steps in the right direction with a positive mindset whether in a relationship or going it alone.

3) Be open…

…to an unusual life and to new understandings. There’s no point hanging on to what could’ve, should’ve, or would’ve been, because it will only make you (us) feel bitter and offended. With an open mind you can truly let new experiences into your life. You never know what exciting events may come your way, but that’s the beauty of it (watching waves whether peaceful or dangerous).

4) Be calm and kind…

…with yourself. Much like #2 and whether you believe what’s happened in your life is your fault or not, you must be gentle with and forgive yourself along with others.  It serves no one, especially not you, if you don’t “talk” to yourself or others encouragingly or lovingly. To create a life of purpose, we must first love ourselves then others, because only then can our actions come from the heart. And when your actions come from the heart, you will be able to see clearly, feel strong, and are sure of your choices.

5) Be trusting…

…of yourself and all others in the universe. All you can do is your best and go with the flow—and trust that your life is turning out as it should be. Going with the flow can be challenging, especially if you’re someone like me who likes to be in control (damn Leo’s). So remind yourself constantly that even when you try so hard to create a life that you want, the laws of nature may decide otherwise. And how you choose to respond to it is what matters most—that’s really what life’s all about anyway isn’t it?

truthandtrusting (2)

If you flow with the nature of life (waves), you will have the strength to handle everything that comes your way. I always wish that… I would have never heard of the saying, had I had known then what I know now… Why, well because if I hadn’t done what I did and met those people who I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today! Happy, satisfied and for once looking forward to more of what life has to throw my way only this time, as a family not as a single parent. How much more truth can that provide? Embracing a new relationship or riding/watching a new wave roll in can be downright scary but being courageous, truthful, open, calm, and trusting can help you roll in not crash into the beach. Now that summer has arrived get out there and catch a few new waves yourself and enjoy those memorable sunsets.

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