Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Showing My Kids Their Value After Divorce

I’m not typically a big planner. I don’t map out my entire life in advance or have giant, grandiose dreams about my future. However, I wasn’t always this way. Before I changed during and after my divorce, I used to be a mega big picture thinker. I had a hard time living in and enjoying the moment. Every day was just another step in my quest for the perfect life. After everything fell apart, I was forced to re-evaluate the way I viewed life.

Honestly at the beginning of this single dad of four adventure, I figured I would begin to focus even more on my big plans. So I kind of did just that. I focused on getting through all of this, finding a wife, and normalizing my kids’ life. Praise God that He quickly intervened and radically altered the way I view my future. Instead of being stressed out about tomorrow, He showed me the simple joys of enjoying today. It’s really hard to explain how much my thinking has changed from how it was 3-4 years ago, but let’s just say that I’m extremely satisfied with the New Seth. I wanted to say all of that, just to discuss the other spectrum of my new way of living. I want to discuss how I approach big plans/goals and how they are different from what they used to be. I know I’m confusing. :)

The further the kids and I get from our trauma, the more I feel one super important thing in my heart I want to plan out for their future. That one thing is “value”. Feeling valued is something that can radically alter a person’s life. So that’s pretty much my only big picture plan. I want my children to grow up knowing they are valued as individuals. Of course I love them more than I can possibly ever attempt to explain. But to be perfectly frank, someone can love another person without showing it or demonstrating the other person’s value in their life. With my Mini-Megows, my goal is for them to grow up knowing how valuable they are not only as my daughter, but as a person in general. This is my one constant goal I’m working towards in life. So yeah, I can take every day as it comes, but overall I make a point to pour into my kids’ self-worth in the long term.

As a parent, this concept is the basis of how I raise my kids. As a Christian, I have the perfect example of how to live this out. To me it’s all about self-sacrifice. Not in a "woe is me” way or a “make myself as miserable as possible” manner, but truly showing my kids that dad values them more than himself. Of course they know that dad loves them. Truthfully, they know their mom loves them as well. But my goal as their dad is to demonstrate this to them. I want them to know they are worth enough for dad to make personal sacrifices such as spend a majority of his time cleaning and parenting while their friends’ dads are all out playing football. I want them to come first. If I’m truly being Jesus to them, this should flow very naturally.

Now this is also a balancing act. I try extremely hard to not vent or complain about certain aspects of my life. It’s not like I wake up and say “Well guys, dad is ultra-tired from working all night to raise extra money for your field trips”. I mean I struggle at times complaining out loud, but I really work on making those complaints not directed to them or even around them. Kids shouldn’t feel guilty about choices their parents’ make, good or bad choices. I would never want my children to carry around the weight of why dad is so tired or drained. It should go unnoticed.

I’ll relate this concept to a recent little story. We were in the mountains over Christmas break. Our last night I was talking with my dad (my parents met us up there), I told him I was dreading making the kids spend an entire day in the car the next day. I hated that for them. So suddenly while my dad and I were talking, I made the immediate decision to just drive home through the night. I loaded everything up and then placed my sleeping kids in their car seats and drove home. We left around 10pm and got in around 6am. It was December 23rd, and I wanted the kids to have an ultra-fun Christmasy day. However at the beginning of the day the kids were acting up and suddenly I found myself yelling, “Guys, I drove all night for you while you slept. I did this so you wouldn’t have to sit in the car all day!! Can you please behave!?!” Immediately, I felt God telling me that was extremely wrong and bad parenting. It’s like I was searching for some kind of validation and recognition from the kids. It just seemed like I was saying “I did all of this, and you did nothing. So be GRATEFUL!” I could see them feel so guilty. It wasn’t their choice to ride home through the night. It was a personal gift of going without sleep and driving through the night that I wanted to give them. Immediately when the words exited my mouth, I took away their feeling of being “worthy” of that gift and kind sort of dumped it in the trash. I guess my point with all of this is parents should sacrifice of course, but kids shouldn’t have to experience those sacrifices with them. They should be able to just sleep in the car and enjoy the next day. :)

The feeling of value and self-worth is extremely close to my heart after seeing what the lack of it has done in my kids over the past few years. Their mom left and their dad was a constantly stressed passenger on the struggle bus. I began to notice little changes in self-confidence, happiness, and even questioning if they were loved from time to time. Of course, they were loved. I knew their love languages and constantly poured into them. Finally, it just clicked that a gift doesn’t mean much if the next day the person that gave it is complaining about the cost. I just can’t bear for my kids to not see their self-worth again.

So let’s expand on my specific future plan when it comes to them feeling valued…

One day in the future when they are all grown up, my goal is to shield them from as much crap that happened when they were younger; however, at the same time I want them to know that they were (and are) worth enough to not settle in life. I truly desire for them to see themselves the way God sees them. Absolutely one of a kind and priceless. As they get older, I’m sure they will find out specifics about certain things. I don’t want this to diminish their self-worth, but rather boost it. Instead of each of my kids wondering why their mom left them, I want them to see why their daddy stayed. Sometimes that is what keeps me going through the day. When I get super tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, I just picture my kids years from now. They are confident not only of their worth in God’s eyes, but also others around them. They are worth people’s best. I just dream of them saying “Dad, thank you for making us feel loved and valued.” I think that would be the most defining moment of my life.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing


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