Featured Father, March 2008

Member Name: mrbillk

Tell us about how you became a single dad.
My ex and I seperated and got divorced in 1998. Our daughter was eight at the time. I had joint custody with her having primary. For the next five years, I would call my daughter every Monday and Thursday and would fly in to see her once a month (I took a job on the East Coast and they lived in the Midwest). My daughter also spent eight to nine weeks with me in the summer. In 2003, my ex died in a fire and I received sole custody of my daughter.

Tell us about your family.
My daughter and I live with my gf, her son and daughter and her daughter's son. We have our typical ups and downs, but we are happy.

Share a story about a memory involving your children.
There are so many. I guess one of the best is taking her to Disney World on Thanksgiving and having lunch in the Castle.

What traditions have you created in your family that you could share with us?
Traditions. We haven't really created any traditions. My gf has the tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve (she tries to get more opened!).

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced (or are facing) as a single father?
The biggest issue I have had to face and I am still facing is the loss of my ex. When my daughter moved East with me, we dealt with that, the loss of her possessions and leaving her friends behind. Now that she will graduate high school this year (a few days after the 5th anniversary of the fire), I am helping her deal with the loss all over again.

What encouraging advice do you have for other single fathers or soon-to-be single fathers?
Patience and communication. Master these and many bumps you will face are far smoother. My daughter knows that I will punish her if she does wrong, but that she can talk to me about anything.

Patience isn't one of my strongest suits with her, but I am much better than I was five years ago. She has to feel comfortable to be able to talk to me. If I am constantly impatient and yell at her, she won't talk to me.

Have fun as well. I attend all my daughter's home soccer games (even went to a few away games). I have helped her practice in the backyard. We take walks together and watch certain tv shows together. We go to minor league baseball games and amusement parks.

Encourage and support your child. Becareful not to "coddle" them though. One of the hardest things I had to do was to support my daughter's choice of schools when she considered going back to the Midwest after graduation. But I would have been hypocritical to everything I have tried to teach her if I had not. Luckily, in the end, she chose a school 30 minutes from the house to attend and will live with us while going to school.

What else would you like to share?
Create a will! One never knows what will happen to us. I created mine and have peace of mind knowing that the State will not make decisions based upon what they think I may want, but on what I have said I wanted.

Spend time with your children each and every day. My daughter and I start each school day together by waiting for her bus to come. We sit in my truck and talk about most anything. Then, when she gets on the bus, I head off to work. When the weather is nice, I come home from work and we take a walk or bike ride. Again, we talk about many things.