As single parents, we continuously strive to do the best thing for our children. We provide clothing, shelter, food and education for them; these are required by law. We also do our best to give them fun things; birthday parties, trips to the zoo, and movies with lots of popcorn.
I know that traditional parents do all of these things also, but it’s a little tougher for single parents. We do it on our own, with fewer resources. But the bottom line is that we want what’s best for our kids.
Sometimes, the thing that is best for our kids may be hurtful to us.
My son and I moved to Texas from Colorado in 2005. He was seven, and just starting first grade. His dad stayed in Colorado, and then moved to Minnesota, which is where he grew up.
For ten years, it was just the two of us. I had a full-time job, of course, so I could pay the bills, but I always did my best to know what was happening in his world. I was in contact with his teachers, I took him to every Cub Scout meeting, basketball practice and the games, and helped him with his homework every night. I was lucky, because I worked with a bunch of engineers who explained how to make a fast Pinewood Derby car. We still have the trophies!
I was there when the Lego Deathstar that was almost finished crashed on the dining room table, and he collapsed into tears. He was ten. I was also the one who helped him put it back together, and searched for the exact piece that he needed. I think there were over 3,000 pieces for that thing! But when it was complete, that project held a place of honor in our home for a long time.
So now, at the age of 17, about to start his junior year of high school, my baby boy has decided that he wants to live with his father in Minnesota. Throughout his teenage years, he’s been a bit difficult. He’s done things he shouldn’t do, and suffered the consequences of breaking the house rules. And I’ve heard several times that teens who are misbehaving do extremely well and turn themselves around in a new environment.
I support this decision; I really do. But I am going to miss him like crazy! He has promised me and his family in Minnesota that he will behave; he will help them without being asked, he’ll get a job right away, and his grandparents won’t have to spend a dime on him. What I want to know is, “Why can’t he behave like that for me?”
Personally, I think I deserve really wonderful behavior from my kid. I’m the one who’s always been there for him. The other side of the family, not so much. I’m the parent who should be reaping the rewards of a studious, productive, independent young man. He should be offering to cook dinner in my house a couple nights a week, instead of up there.
It’s pretty annoying.
But then I take a step back, and I try to look at the long-term possibilities. My goal as a parent is to raise a functional, self-sufficient, productive adult. I’ve done my best with him for the past seventeen years, ten of which have been without his father. The kid has only a couple years left of being a kid. He’s in the home stretch.
If, at this point, he feels that some time with his father and paternal grandparents is what he needs, then I’m not going to complain. I believe with all my heart that dads are extremely important when raising children. This will be good for everyone. Including me.