Family means a lot to me and I hope you as well. You may or may not know that my back story and I will give you the short version because I want you to please keep reading and not to bore you.
My parents divorced when I was very young, around the age of 5. My mom needed to work two jobs to support the family. I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house that lived down the street from us.
As I am typing this, Helen my grandmother is in the hospital. Yesterday she had gallbladder surgery. My grandmother is 93 but she is very active and to see her in a hospital bed is not a natural sight to me.
When I last spoke to her about three days before she entered the hospital she did not sound well. Coughing and mentioning that she was having back pains but it was not the physical pain that worried me. It was her mentioning that she was ready to go to the next level.
On my right wrist I have an Orange band that says “I AM GRATEFUL” and honestly I need to look at it to remind myself to be in gratitude of the life I have. I love my family and friends. I still have the dark demons in my head from time to time where I too was ready for my life to go to the “next level.”
LESSON NUMBER ONE IS…………. GRATITUDE
When Connor my son and I went to first visit Helen I was happy he was with me. There we were talking with my grandmother, Connors’ Great Grandmother and I was grateful that for almost 14 years that Connor has been on the planet he has had the time to spend with his Great Grandmother. My wish is that one day Connor will realize his inner gratitude to of had quality time with his Great Grandmother.
Times are tough but when I am asked these days the standard “How are you” I just say, “It is a day above ground.” Spread your gratitude to others.
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
LESSON NUMBER TWO IS…………ATTITUDE
Have you had to call your cable company or going through the drive through to get the person at the other end having a bad day? Heck, were you having a bad day only to take it out on the customer service agent working at the airport? Even worse (what can be worse) taking your bad day out on your own family, including your pet?
My dad A.K.A “The Mayor of Michigan Avenue” is called this because there are times when you could not walk 20 feet in downtown Chicago without my dad knowing someone. I have learned because of my dads “attitude” how to treat people, even complete strangers, my dad is great at using the wait staff person’s name as if they were best friends for years.
I try (oh I try) to emulate a positive attitude when I am in the presence of the kid’s because they will hopefully model your happy attitude. There are those moments being a parent when the kids see us at our worst but taking the time to own those bad days can teach a wonderful life lesson to all of you.
For you the ability to see your kid’s might need a plane trip or in other situations a car drive. The next tip is a life lesson I learned the hard way.
LESSON NUMBER THREE IS…………BE PRESENT
When you first got married you might of thought the same thought that I did and that was to married “Until Death…” Because of that thinking I took my time with Connor for granted. You might of felt the same way that you would be around your kid’s FOREVER.
What I mean by being present is to simply stay connected with them on a daily basis. Connor is a teenager and I might not receive full sentence answers but at least we are somewhat communicating.
I once had a dad ask me how to “stay connected” when his kids lived out of state. This was around the time when a video platform such as Skype was coming out. I asked if could get a video camera and would his former spouse be willing to get on as well? He said yes on both accounts. He was able to not only speak to his kids but be present by seeing them.
The greatest tag line is “You don’t have to be a perfect parent” and it is true but there is a caveat. You need to at least be present.
For example if you are attending an event for your kid’s, leave the phone in the car. The only condition is if and only if you are taking pictures. If that is the case then my recommendation is to get a nice camera.
Believe me when I say “I know there are more then three” but my blog, my rules.
Tommy Maloney is a Speaker, Author, and Parenting Success Coach. The author of “25 Tips For Divorced Dads.” “Why Not you, Why Not me and His new book “My Dad’s Advice At 5:04 AM” is coming out in 2017.
Executive producer and host of the podcast “Blending The Family” where you can find on ITUNES and Stitcher Radio.
Tommy has spoken at TEDx, Ignite Fort Collins and Keynote Speaker at Everything Dad Convention.
A bonus dad to Betsy, Becca, Connor, the family dog Duke and husband to Ann.