To Fellow Single Parents,
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why we go through certain challenges and even tougher to explain them to our children. Throughout the last four years, I went through a separation and a divorce and I became a single dad. Now, I share custody of my 16 and 11-year-old sons: Jordan and Dylan.
When the Coronavirus pandemic started, I had a meeting at work. It was very casual. The sentiment was that it would all be over in a month and our lives would return to normal. By my second week at home, I realized the longevity and severity of the situation was far more severe than we initially thought.
I’m the head of construction for Royal Caribbean International, which is a cruise line based in Miami, FL. The entire cruise industry has gotten hammered. In the weeks following our first meeting about the pandemic, I started to have discussions with colleagues and upper management about the possibility of lay-offs. Dylan, my 11-year-old son, overheard. He came up to me, hugged me and started to cry, as he was visibly upset.
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He said, “Dad, how can they let you go? You’re one of the best there! How can they get rid of you?”
He was scared, as he felt the weight of uncertainty that I am living with daily.
For all of us, including our children, we woke up one day and our lives changed. My youngest son is on Zoom for schoolwork all day and my oldest son is learning from home as well.
A typical day for me when there is not a pandemic and when I am in town, is a full day at the office, where I get home when it’s dark. My work typically extends to emails and calls well after office hours.
Now, I look for different activities to keep my children busy: basketball, biking, swimming and skateboarding.
I am a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, so we train together and they have also been taking Zoom classes at our local academy. Even though it’s a difficult time in our lives, I am trying to keep my children’s routine as normal as possible, while enjoying the extra undivided attention I am able to give them.
I want my kids to be happy and maintain a positive attitude through this ordeal. And I believe whether or not that happens has a lot to do with how I carry myself. So, no matter how much is at stake, I am upbeat around my children while also being honest.
I explained to my kids that if I do lose my job, we will have to watch what we spend and I won’t be able to buy everything I was able to buy before. They understood.
Also, I told them that in life, unexpected situations happen. You wake up sometimes and you lose someone you love, or relationships fall apart, or you get fired or laid off. There is a lot in life you can’t control. While you can be concerned and prepare accordingly, worrying doesn’t help.
Right now, we are in a tough situation. There is a lot of uncertainty but I told my children that we will get through it. We’ll figure it out. I reminded them that we have bounced back from difficult situations before.
Being a single parent in this climate is overwhelming. There is no one to share the weight of the pressure we are feeling. And the weight of it all can be unbearable. From our jobs to teaching our kids their school work, to keeping them entertained on top of all the regular household chores, we have a lot going on. But I have found healthy ways to cope with the stress, including a lot of exercising, reading and praying.
None of us know what will be, but we do know our children are watching how we respond.
That’s why even when it seems like the world is falling apart, I want my kids to see that their dad is still calmly holding it together.
Going forward, whenever they face a difficult situation in life, hopefully, they will show a similar strength. If so, even if I don’t understand why we are going through such challenging times, my children’s lives might be better in the long run because of how I handle it.
Always look for the lesson and be the example.
Stay strong and stay healthy,