Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas to all.

2012 is coming to a quick end and with 2013 upon us it is a great time for me and all of us really, to consider the year just past and the year moving forward.

This year was a terrific year with amazing highs but some horrible lows. We celebrated birthdays as Jacob, who continues to grow and is now wearing my cloths, turned 14. He is a now a young man who is thoughtful, considerate, intelligent and amazingly helpful. I am so proud of him and can't wait to see him continue to grow.

Hannah is now twelve. She is becoming a young girl and as her Dad you bet that I am terrified! LOL. But, she is smart, head strong, creative and loving. She is fulfilling the promise of being the artist that she always seemed to be.

Knoah is an amazing six year old who is determined, intelligent, happy and most amazingly loving and welcoming to all. He continues not only to grow but to amaze me with his desire to learn new things. He is curious, creative and simply amazing. He and I enjoy playing together and I have even learned to love caring for his invisible cobra when he is not at the house with me.

Ethan, at just one is . . . . simply wonderful. He is bright, curious, affectionate, happy and very, very head strong with who he is. He is running, jumping, climbing, talking and taking in any and every chance he can to learn.

The best of this year has been the time that I have spent with Laura and the kids. We have visited the Zoo, Water Parks, College Home Coming (Adrian), Harvest Festivals, Train Festivals, roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. We have played games inside and outside and have created some of our own games, too. Jacob and I visited Chicago and were able to see all of the sights in the City including seeing Al Capone's home (something Jacob HAD to see). We have went to baseball and Hockey games.  We have seen the stars from "Hardcore Pawn" (lol).  We have hosted outdoor movies.  We have went swimming and for walks.  We have made crafts and baked too many cakes and cookies to count.  We have learned the joy that is "puppy chow"!  We have shared and gown and learned and love.  In the end, we have lived. 
Laura and I have spent time in Columbus with her amazing sister Kristi. Because I have been absorbed with “life” this year I have not blogged as much and I know that I am missing things but suffice it to say . . . . it has been a pretty good year and I am happy that it has been my life.

The bad things this year . . . and there are always some down moments, right. Sadly, Knoah spent some time at the U of M Childrens Hospital. I find myself again out of work. I seem to have a “knack” for picking up “flat tires” . . . lol! I found out how much it hurts to be stung by a bald faced hornet on six occasions!

But through it all I have to confess . . . . 2012 was pretty great. I have four wonderful children and I have an amazing woman in my life. Laura and I have now been “together” for over 26 months and we have grown into an amazing relationship. In truth, she is more the reason than I. Laura is accepting, intelligent, honest (to a fault), happy, passionate, maternal, beautiful, sexy, fun and most important to me . . . . with me :-).

Christmas has, for the last few years, been difficult for me. But today . . . . Christmas 2012 is the beginning and recognition that life is and will be wonderful if you let it be. We have a busy day today as we have Christmas with Laura's family and then I will drive to Monroe to pick up the chicklets for Christmas Day in the morning. We will spend the next several days enjoying each others company and the wonderful that is the holiday season.

Life isn't perfect but it is . . . . perfectly amazing.

I have wonderful things to be thankful for and wish to thank Craig and Debbie for all of the wonderful things that they have done for me, Laura, Ethan, Jacob, Hannah and Knoah. They are great people and I am so happy that I have gotten to know them. I am thankful for my family; Dad, Mom, Peg, Tony, Stacy, Michael, Shawn and Ebony and wish the best for all of them. I miss my nephew Michael and hope that 2013 gives us the chance to reconnect. I miss my Niece Stacy and her wonderful boys Bralyen and Jackie. I feel sad that I have not even seen or held Jackie in person yet and pray that 2013 gives me that chance. I have enjoyed that facebook has allowed me a window into the lives of may of my aunts, uncles and cousins and am so thankful that they are there.

So . . . Merry Christmas to all and may 2013 bring the best for each of us. God Bless.

Thoughts on Newton, CT

Over the last forty-eight hours like most American's I have been thinking about my kids and reflecting on what they mean to me. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has forced anyone with the ability to feel empathy to examine just how do we secure a safe world where tragic days like this don't exist and can we even do that.

As a divorced father with three children from my first marriage I have my three oldest every weekend. This weekend for me was different as I suspect it was for every parent. We did not play the Wii or other games that we normally do. I wanted, no I needed, to be close to them. I held them and more often then normal I told them how much I loved them. We went to the Toledo Zoo and walked looking at the lights and holding hands. Normally, Knoah my six year old sleeps in his own bed but Saturday he came into the bedroom and wanted to sleep with me. In truth he does this nearly every weekend but after a few minutes I typically carry him to his bed. Not so this weekend as I needed him and my other children close to me. Ethan, my youngest at only sixteen months old is always with me and this morning after his mother left for work I set on the rocker in his room watching him sleep and thinking about what world we are giving to our children.

When I was “coming of age” I did not want to be a father. I had always imagined my life without children. I did not think that I had the “tools” to be a parent and always thought that “others” could populate the world and I was good with that. All of that changed early in my marriage when my ex-wife and I discovered we were going to have a baby and then shortly after that we had a miscarriage. Losing that child, a girl we named Madison Tate, is something that changed my thoughts and feelings about being a parent and something that even to this day, I have not gotten over. Nearly a year later we had our son Jacob who is now fourteen and the moment of his birth has been the most significant watershed moment in my life. Jacob's birth was uneventful as it seemed he was ready to be on this earth and came into this world without hesitation. I was thirty when he came into this world and while I had already been in the Military and graduated college in truth I had no idea how to be a parent. It was a struggle to learn all of the things that I needed to be a good “dad”. Hannah followed two years later and she brought with her even more difficulty. Her birth was long and difficult. Hannah was born during a snowstorm and the delivery was long and difficult for her mother. That day, 12/12/2000 was the first of two days in my life that I prayed to God asking that he please allow my child and her mother to be on this earth and that if something horrible needed to occur than allow me to be the one to bear that. God, I believe, heard me and allowed Hannah, her Mother and I all to leave the hospital. As a baby Hannah suffered with GIRD (gastrointestinal reflux disorder) and knowing she could and would throw up on you at nearly any second was at times a trying thing. Knoah followed six years after Hannah and his birth was even more difficult than Hannah. Knoah is a little-person and has many physical aliments that he must overcome. His birth was marked by more than 18 hours of labor that finally resulted in an emergency c-section as his heart rate slowed. He was not breathing at birth an was rushed into ICU. Just like six years earlier I prayed to God that Knoah would be safe and again my prayer was granted. Three years after Knoah graced this earth his mother and I divorced and while it was difficult I knew that my children needed to be the focal point of my life. I was lucky, then and now, to have them and even luckier to meet and fall in love with Laura within two years of my divorce. Laura and I were blessed with Ethan in 2011 and his birth was long and difficult. Laura was a trooper through nearly eighteen hours of labor and then finally the doctors decided to do a c-section as he just simply did not seem to want to be bothered with joining us outside the womb on that day. When they took him and placed him on the warming tray in the operating room it was clear that this boy was comfortable with himself and would be at peace with his surroundings. Ethan was not a crier and did not seem bother by the changes but opening his eyes he seemed to want nothing more than to find his Mother and take it all in. The birth of all four brought the normal emotions of joy, love, happiness and pride along with tears.

I know today that I have grown to be a better father as time has gone on. I have with age grown more patient, more understanding and more aware of the needs of my children. I am not a perfect person and have made mistakes in my life that have hurt and disappointed others and myself more times than I wish to remember as a parent, husband and boyfriend. I know that I have continued to learn and I do use each day as an opportunity to learn and hopefully grow.

I have grown comfortable in the role of helping my children and find more joy in playing with them than anything else on this earth. I have grown obsessed in a way with board games and have amassed a collection of more than eighty games that we can play. I have grown into wanting to do silly things with my children (like setting up disco lights in the house and playing Wii karaoke). I know that this will given us the “shared expressions” that we can reflect on later in life.

So this weekend was more reflective, more somber than most. Because this weekend seeing, touching, hearing my children brought to me a happiness that I know twenty families in Connecticut will never feel again. As a father it is crushing to know that a fellow human must deal with such an unimaginable pain. Knowing it also has lead me to reflect and consider just what can “I” do about this and what is the world that we showing our children.

It seemed within hours of the tragedy in Newtown the political sphere was abuzz with how we needed new or more restrictive gun laws. I was and remain angry not that discussion was brought up but that it was done so in such a quick manner. I felt that it was emotional and to me was somewhat disrespectful of the families as within hours of learning your child had been murdered there were people using this tragedy in a political manner. I understand that but I disagree with it. As I write this we still don't know all of the facts of what a clearly disturbed young man decided to do. What we do know is that he did not legally own any guns himself and that he had even been turned away from purchasing a rifle days or weeks earlier because he did not wish to proceed with the background investigation. For me this means that in addition to killing his mother and twenty-five other humans before killing himself he became a criminal by stealing weapons. I don't know his background and wish not to speculate but it is significant to me that much is being bantered about him having a “personality disorder” and that he may fall within the autism spectrum. I can't know if any of this is true but I do know that if so having him participate in learning to fire weapons and having weapons in such close proximity would not have been, to me, good decision making.

I have always been around weapons most of my life and have in the past owned handguns and rifles. I have one rifle now but have yet to share this with my children. None of them have ever seen me fire a weapon (outside of a nerf gun). When I was married my ex-wife did not want the kids to play with toy guns and really was opposed to having them around guns. I respected that and agreed. Jacob has asked me over the last two years to teach him how to shoot a gun and I have reluctantly agreed however in the last seventeen months the closest he has gotten is to hold an unloaded Remington 22LR (without the bolt) and learn about weapon safety, breathing technique, proper trigger pull and how to properly sight the weapon. I have not progressed past this point because at times Jacob has seemed very flippant and immature about understanding the true damage that a weapon can do. It goes back to the fact that this isn't a “toy” or something to take even the slightest bit lightly. I trust my son more than I can express and know that he is a responsible kid but I want to know that he takes things seriously. Call me overly cautious if you like but he is my son and I will take as much time as I feel necessary to progress to finally shooting at a target.

To me the entire “gun control” argument becomes one of responsibility and respect. It has been speculated that the “framers” of the constitution did not intend that American's would own automatic weapons when they drafted the second amendment. In truth we don't know what they intended but it is fair to say that as these weapons did not exist they, of course, did not have the knowledge of them and the destruction that they could cause. But I don't believe that this means we can know what they intended. We have, in my lifetime, had more restrictive gun laws enacted and while I think some have been successful (background checks are important and necessary, in my opinion) while others have been marginal and unsuccessful. During the term of President Clinton we saw the “assault weapons” ban which was more about how a weapon looked than it was about how effective or powerful the weapon was. It was a good feeling to some to ban these weapons but it did nothing to stop violence as Columbine occurred during that time.

It seems many want to move to even more restrictive laws and seek to ban semi-automatic “assault type” weapons like the one used in the Newtown tragedy. The argument is that there is no real “need” for a civilian to have this weapon. My heart understands that argument but I find myself in disagreement based on my life experiences and logic. Consider that as a soldier stationed in Alaska I would regularly fish in remote areas of the Chena river outside of Fairbanks and one of the members of our group would always take a Israeli made AK-47 because running into a bear was a real concern and the ability to get as many rounds down range in as quick a time possible was a nice security blanket. On the other side of this is that because I know people who own semi-automatic weapons and am aware of the joy they have firing them at the range or in other safe environments, I struggle thinking that we should take this legal activity away from them. If the argument is simply that they don't need that then isn't it logical to extend that same argument to almost everything? Seriously, who “needs” a Suzuki Hayabusa that is capable of nearly 200 mph. Same for a Corvette ZR1 or a Stingray 225SX speedboat with more than 320 hp. I just don't see “need” as an appropriate question.

Logically then it would seem the real question is should we even “have” weapons in our society? Maybe not but then again there are folks that use firearms for hunting and feeding families. Police surely need them to protect the community. Besides how would we really get rid of all of the weapons already owned legally in America? Do we really advocate that we should confiscate them from people or is there another solution? Maybe we should prohibit types for weapons. That could be a fair conversation but the question it brings it what type and why? Do we go back to an assault weapon ban based on the way something looks or how many rounds can be thrown down range? Do we base it on the caliber of the weapon? There are so many stumbling blocks and “yeah but what about” that it is nearly impossible to tell.

I know the one thing that I can and will do is be a good parent. It is difficult to be away from Jacob, Hannah and Knoah four days of the week but it is the life that we have and I would like to make the best of it. So the weekend of the shooting we played board games, read books, had sit down meals, went to the zoo and just spent time together.

Hannah was already aware of what had happened and talked about it some. I let her and Knoah in on the truth that sometimes people do things that are evil and hurt other. I also let them know that they have family and friends that love them and will always be there for them and in the end that is all we can do. We can't control what others do but we can control how we react to it. In this case my reaction was to make sure that my kids know that I love and that I am proud to be a Dad.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Ethan William

On August 15th, my youngest son, Ethan William turned one year old.  Having three older children, I knew the year would go fast but in this case it has been nothing short of a whirlwind!

Last year on the day of his "birth" things seem to go so very slow.  Labor, for Laura, lasted more than twelve hours and after so long the doctors made the decision to simply do a c-section and help him into the world.  He was not happy! 

His birth, while amazing and a terrific experience, was not at a fantastic time for me.  I was unemployed and would do my first of four job interviews with my current employer when Ethan was only two days old.  I was terrified of being the "unemployed" dad.  Ethan, however, did not seem to care. 

The first night he slept completely though the night and spend a good portion of that time sitting on my chest.  Laura slept very little as she would check on Ethan by reaching out of her bed to grab his hand and touch his face.  Holding him that first day met waiting your turn, even if you were his dad. 

Laura's Mother (Debbie), Father (Craig), sister (Kristi), Laura's friends (Elise, Laura, Heidi and Sarah)were all on hand to see Ethan come into the world and they quickly fell in love with him and demanded that they get to hold him. 

He was so amazingly big that he attracted the attention of nurse's at Bixby and they seemed to find a reason to come into the room to "help" with something.  This, of course, was kind of sweet to be honest. 

I spent the first month and a half of Ethan's life unemployed and with him and Laura everyday as she was on maternity leave.  It was, looking back, an amazing time. 

Ethan has grown so quickly that it is shocking.  At his one year doctor's appointment he was 32" and 27 lbs 6 oz.  He has been walking since he was ten months old and is now getting that he can (and does) ask for the things that he wants by pointing.  He loves to be held and played with and mostly he loves being read to. 

I don't know if I can express in words what this little boy and his Mother have done for me in the last year.  What I can say is this; "Ethan, you are one of the luckiest little boys on this earth.  You have a Mother, Grand Parents and Aunt that love and adore you.  You have shown me hope and joy.  You have two older brothers and an older sister that think you are the coolest thing ever! Ethan William . . . I love you and can't wait to see you grow into the wonderful young man that I know you will be".

Happy First Birthday, Son - Love, Dad

Thursday, August 2, 2012

. . . . . ya know, life is WONDERFUL . . .

It has been a long while since I wrote anything - after promising myself that I would be more active - HA! Guess that I need to work on improving.  Well, improving on the blog that is.  In life - I am super happy right now and I have started to understand why. 

A while back I made the decision that I needed to be more "positive" with my general outlook and acceptance about things.  It wasn't that I was walking around angry and bitter but I was spending too much time thinking about things I couldn't correct or control.  Yep, I don't have the amount of money I want and geez . . . bills suck. Yep, I go for days and days without getting a return call or text from the kids and that sucks. But - none of these things are something that I can control and all I can do is be the best person that I am suppose to be, right?

One of the biggest changes that I decided to make was to stop from reading so many political blogs. Honestly, my "favorites" section on Internet explorer had more than forty blogs that I would read or look at daily. I also decided to give up talk radio in favor of K-Love (96.9). Both of these decisions have greatly helped me learn to walk away from thoughts and feelings that I have about the behavior of others and has given me "prospective". I have wrestled with this idea of "prospective" for a long time and even renamed this blog because of it. I, just like everyone else, have to contend with the idea that it, "prospective" is an ever evolving creature and one that can only be seen clearly with a firm foundation. K-Love, the music and commentary, has really helped me start building a better foundation or rather a more clear foundation.

Laura has been and remains nothing short of AMAZING and I can't express to her in words how much I appreciate and love her. During the past two years she has stood beside me and supported me more than I ever thought possible. She is an terrific mother and I am proud to call her, "my girl"! She has reminded me of the things that are important to me; my kids, family and believing / feeling that I am doing something helpful with my life.

I feel so happy and thankful for the great things that I have been granted; Jacob, Hannah, Knoah, Ethan and of course; Laura Leigh! My position at work is wonderful and I love what I do so it is much less work than something that fulfills my desire to feel as if I am helping.

Work has led me to meet some wonderful people and thinks to one of them, I have been nominated for a terrific opportunity that would be a great honor for me. The lead agency that is my program granter, has nominated me to apply for the American Express Leadership Academy. The program ran by American Express is a year long commitment that begins with "pre-conference" work before being invited to New York for a week to learn from professionals with American Express on how to integrate non-profits, NGOs and the corporate community. I am humbled just to have been nominated to apply and will be awestruck if I am accepted. There are only 48 persons a year admitted and if by God's blessing, I happen to be one of them, WOW. . . how cool is that!

There have been somethings that, in the past, would have been a "set back" for me; Knoah needing to be admitted into U of M (more on that later), not hearing from the kids, bills that seem to "pile up" but . . . they have not only been taken in stride they have each been good learning experiences for me.

I believe the biggest change has occurred for one reason - I have made the decision to commit myself to being the man that God would like me to be and to ask him for direction and assistance. I am so very thankful that he has accepted my apologies for my past behavior.

I have begun to surround myself with positive things and the one that has been most easily recognized has been in the music I listen to. Since I have switched to K-Love, I have found a whole new genre of music that is becoming more and more important to me for it's meaning and outlook. So - that is where I am. I am happy, content, satisfied and in love! Life is well.

Some of the songs / artist that have become important to me:

Bandon Heath - I'm not who I was

Tenth Avenue North - Losing

Big Daddy Weave - Redeemed


Monday, May 21, 2012

Just a bit "overdue" . . . :-)

Now that Ethan is more than eight months old and I am still not caught up on sharing him I thought that the quickest and most simple way would be to "pirate" some of the video's that Laura has made so that he can not only be seen but be "heard".

Ethan on Halloween . . . . just 2.5 months old. 

Ethan at 4 Months . . . . "Giggling" and being his normal happy self.

The now "famous" . . . "Ethan Song" . . .

So he, like every kid, changes nearly daily and is gaining so much more personality then you could ever have imagined.  He loves playing with Jacob, Hannah and Knoah and it is so cool to see him (as he is now crawling) go after Knoah. 

There he is . . . . eight months old and the entire world waiting in front of him!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

". . . . ticking away . . . . "

". . . ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day . . . . You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way . . . you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking . . . . and waiting around, it comes up behind you again . . . the the sun is the same in a relative way but your older and shorter of breath and one day closer to death . . . "

(Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon)

So - Mothers Day 2012 has now passed and I am working 68 plus hours a week and have one day off (Saturday) to kinda plan on what I was going to do for Laura on this her first Mother's Day and what I could "encourage" or help Jacob, Hannah and Knoah do for their Mom. Which means, for anyone that knows me . . . . I am a bit stressed! I feel like I have been "chasing" the sun and . . . well . . he / she is winning! Not "winning" like Charlie Sheen was but . . . really, "winning".

I have had to cram a lot of "thought" into what I wanted to do for Mother's Day in a short amount of time and sadly . . . I will be working on Sunday but . . . that does not mean I can't be thoughtful, right? So - Laura was a great help and decided that she knew what she wanted (which to be fair is actually cooler than what I thought about getting her) so I got her a case for her newest toy (an iPhone) with a photo of Ethan and Snickers (see below) on it from Easter. I also know that I will make her breakfast and deliver it in bed with fresh flowers.

I am going to help Jacob, Hannah and Knoah put together a photo montage for their Mom and want to make sure that I encourage them to be "extra nice" to her on Mother's Day.

So . . . what have I been up to? I feel like after the last couple of blogs that I have kinda veered into being a bit of a cry baby when . . . nothing could be further from the truth. I am really enjoying myself right now.

I have an audition coming up with a band that plays my kinda music . . . . . which is to say . . . blues rock. I am not counting my chickens before they hatch but I am really excited about this. In talking with the guitar player it's kinda funny that he and I have not crossed paths in life at some point. Although he is a few years younger than me (three to be exact) he grew up in one of the most wonderful towns in America . . . . yep, Monroe! We are looking at some really cool music (OK, if your an old cat that digs BB King, Albert King, the Black Crowes and the likes of folks like that . . . you would dig it). Anyhow . . . keep your fingers crossed . . . . :-)

Since . . . . nearly forever . . . I have not been feeling all that great so a couple of weeks ago we went to the Blissfield train days and in walking around I became pretty winded and made the kids a promise that I would go to the doctors. Well . . . I kept my promise and found out that I actually have had pneumonia for a while which is not really all that wonderful. They gave me some antibiotics for it, a bunch of shots and did some blood work, EKG, chest x-ray and some other poking and prodding. I felt pretty good for a couple of days but have seemed to go back to where I was. I am planning on calling a doctor soon and will find out what is up. I know I should be a bit more worried because of the symptoms but . . . . to be fair . . . . I am just not that stressed about it, ya know.

Summer is coming and I have been looking at how can I spend as much time doing things that I really . . . . enjoy and at the same time . . . work to make the money I need. I have concluded that while this isn't possible I will still try! I am going to take several "long weekends" so that I can spend time with the Jacob, Hannah and Knoah and the Ethan-ator with me all day! This will be really helpful for me on so many levels.

I have already started planting some flowers in pots (as I do every year) and they are starting to sprout which makes me really happy . . . I have always loved planting flowers and taking care of the yard. In the course of my adult life one of my biggest "man prides" was a pond a pond that we once had that had fish and flowers all around it . . . vines growing and flowers blooming with a fountain and fish . . . . it was way cool! We have a ton of flowers starting to come up around the house and I still have a more seeds that I want to get into the ground . . . I am really looking forward to seeing things bloom.

Hannah's dance was awesome and very sad at the same time. My daughter is growing up and this is . . . . . so sad for me. Jacob asked me if I would go with him on his class trip to Cedar Point in June and I am trying to get the money together to take him. He is going to go with me in June when I got to Chicago for five days for a conference. Both he and I are really excited about this.

Ethan had his nine month doctors appointment and continues to do "amazing". He is standing and (honestly) trying to take a step. He has already said his first word . . . yep, "da da". He is now eating more "human food" and is in the 95% in all of his development!

What else could I discuss about my life right now . . . . . not much, honest. Things are going pretty good. I still have a ton of things that I need to take care of and I will do that as time goes on but I do see that things can become the way that I want someday . . . . I just need to take baby steps and I will get there!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stolen Post Alert! !

   So, Hannah has her first "Father / Daughter Dance coming up this weekend and last night while working my second job she "texted" me photos of the dress she is going to wear.  It was wonderful to see this and to feel a "part of it all" but . . . it highlighted the very fact that . . . I am really not in so many ways a "part of it".  With working two jobs I am now getting the kids on Saturday and spending just one night with them to only take them home around two on Sunday's.  Of course . . . this is not something that brings me joy but . . . I know it is a necessity and really I have no choice.  The trouble is that it always brings up that internal struggle of . . . how can I be a good dad when I am not there? 
With that in mind, I found an article that I wanted to share.  So - here is "Being a Good Divorced Dad Means Not Giving Up On Your Kids" by Jeffery M. Leving.  I will admit that I pilfered this post from the "Father's Rights Blog" (see link at the bottom). 
Being a good divorced dad means not giving up on your kids

By Jeffery M. Leving

Most divorced fathers want to spend as much time as possible with their children but oftentimes, for a variety of reason, feel they can’t.

Being a “Good Divorced Dad” oftentimes depends on how much time a father is able to commit to their children. It’s one of the topics I address in detail in my new book, which comes out this Spring, “How to be a Good Divorced Dad: Preventing the Divorce Process and Its After effects from Hurting Your Relationship with Your Children.”

Sometimes, the causes that prevent divorced fathers from becoming good dads have to do with the provisions of the divorce agreement, limiting the time they can spend with their children. Other times, the factors involve personal hurt or lack of self-esteem caused by the divorce. You may be a father physically but not in the spirit that allows you to put the strength and time into it that is required.

In many cases, divorced dads accept a restricted role that is often imposed on them by these circumstances.

But you can change that and you can be a great divorced dad who becomes a role model for your children for years to come.

My book walks fathers through the process of identifying the obstacles that prevent divorced fathers from protecting their relationship with their children.

I call them the Seven Deadly Sins of failed divorced fatherhood. They are: the terms of the custody agreement; orders of protection; financial problems; legal trickery; gender bias; guilt; and anger.

In each instance, there is a strategy to improve the amount of time you spend with your children and to improve the quality of that time.

For example, in the case of having to live under the terms of a very restrictive custody agreement, you can become available to your ex-wife to assist her by being there to help with the children. Too often, the personal animosity that results from many divorces prevents this, but your children need you.

You have to watch for opportunities when your ex-spouse will need help with the children and be there to take advantage of the opportunities. And you have to strategically think about how you approach this, not feed into the anger.

You may be hurt about the divorce. Your ex-wife may be a vengeful person. You need to control your own emotions for the benefit of your children. Why allow your former spouse’s anger to impact your relationship with your children?

A good lawyer will also be able to help with the language in your custody agreement to facilitate opportunities to increase contact with your children. They can be built into the agreement.

In each of these challenges you will want to insure that the time spent with your children is quality time. You need to work on that, but there are methods to help you do that. Planning your time with your children will vastly improve the relationship.

Having a competent, experienced attorney at your side will help avoid many of these challenges, such as avoiding an order of protection that is based on false allegations against you. Many father are coerced by guilt and a gender-biased system into believing that they must admit to fault when there is none.

My book has a list of questions divorced dads can answer to help make them stronger and more effective divorced dads. Knowing them. Thinking about them. And answering them will help improve your experience with your children.

The point is don’t give up. Control the process of divorce in order to control your relationship. And make sure your rights are properly represented when you begin the divorce.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at
In all fairness, this article would be best for fathers getting ready for a divorce but . . . it still gives me some hope.  I have always maintained that I don't believe in divorce and still to this day find it destructive and harmful. 
Looking back now on my divorce and thinking about the Seven Deadly Sins of failed divorced fatherhood. They are: the terms of the custody agreement; orders of protection; financial problems; legal trickery; gender bias; guilt; and anger.  I know that I was greatly impacted by not having full financial disclosure prior to and during the divorce and I should have done this.  I also know that, while the term "legal trickery" is a "strong" term . . . it fits once you consider that the "divorce agreement" you signed is not the one that gets "reprinted" and turned into the court and that this one . . . gets mailed to an address that you have not lived at in ten months . . . . call it whatever . . it sure sucked.  Guilt and anger . . . sure.  What man does not feel guilty that he has failed? 

Of all the things that I think I have learned the one that I would share with others is that if your are going to divorce . . . get an attorney.  It's OK to want to be "nice" and work things out by yourself but . . . even with the best of intentions the odds are stacked against you.  Gaining legal disclosure would have helped me so much and would have, I believe, also benefited my relationship with the kids.
Still . . . most of this is my "thoughts and opinions" but the one thing that I know for sure is that Mr. Leving's book can be bought on Amazon for 4.26.  Mine will be here next week . . . . I hope it helps . . . . :-)