Thanks for What? Divorced Dads & the Holidays

by Scott Moore

It’s that time of year again: the holidays.

For many divorced parents, during this time of year when everyone is talking about family, we’re without. While it’s difficult not having a partner during the holidays, it’s particularly difficult when we don’t have our children. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things we don’t have and the things for which we’re not thankful. Divorce has a way of making us all see the glass as half empty. We’ve lost a lot—materially, physically, and emotionally.

But we need to learn to focus on what we have.

FOY dad school-age daughter kissing cheekFirst and foremost, we have our children. We often get bogged down by all the conditions that surround our relationship with our children—limited days for limited times and with limited rights. But the bottom line is we HAVE children. We ARE fathers. Things can interfere with that and limit our time, limit our rights, make things difficult, etc., but nothing can or will ever change the fact that we had a part in creating new life or perhaps adopting a child.

Yes, divorce makes the holidays difficult, frustrating, and at times depressing. But we have our children. How much do you enjoy seeing their smile? How much do you enjoy peeking in on them while they sleep? How much pride do you have when the teacher tells you how well they’re doing or knowing they do well in a sport or activity? Our children are something for which we should always be thankful and never take for granted even if the circumstances are difficult or our time is limited.

Second, we have an opportunity to shape a life and leave a legacy. Many men put their time and energy into work, fitness, sports, games, or casual relationships. Not that any of those are necessarily bad, but all are ultimately fleeting. None of it lasts for long.

With whatever time you have with your children, be the best father you can be. With the time you’re not with your children, be the best man you can be. Give them a role model. We have the opportunity to shape a young man or woman, a future husband or wife, father or mother, and so on. And while our direct time with them may be limited, it’s still time, and we need to be thankful for it and make the most of it.

Last, focus on your children this season. Many times I’ve tried to craft the “perfect moment” with my kids and have found myself frustrated when I didn’t meet my own high expectations. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my children didn’t know what my expectations were. Children, particularly younger children, are simple. They want time with their dad. Give them that time. The moments don’t have to be grand or formal. They just have to be with your children. Memories will always outlast material things.

Doing or recognizing these things won’t solve all the problems of the holidays. They actually won’t change anything about our circumstances. But they can change a lot about us and our perspective. We may not have a lot of “things” for which to be thankful when measured in quantity. But our thankfulness for our children, the opportunity we have to shape those lives and the chance to create memories—those are immeasurable.

Dads, enjoy this coming holiday season for what you have, not longing for what you wish. In doing so you’ll teach thankfulness, contentment and character to your children and give them something that money can never buy—an involved and loving father. Happy holidays!

Just Enjoy What You Have. Just Be DAD.

Scott MooreScott Moore is a divorced, non-custodial father of a daughter and a son who lives in South Carolina. Through his blog at Building a Better Dad and his Facebook page, he offers other divorced dads (and married dads) understanding and encouragement to help them be better fathers despite their circumstances.

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