Have you ever looked up in life and asked yourself, “How did I get here? How did things get so messed up?”
Many who find themselves asking these question are facing family break-ups. Whether you are the one that initiates the break-up or not, at some point both parties experience the “this is not what I signed up for moment.” The question then turns from, "How did I get here" to, “now what?”
When you have children, this question is extremely important. How you answer this will truly effect your children for the rest of their lives.
As a chaplain in the Family Courts of Tarrant County for over 15 years here are a few tips I have collected over the years for those that find themselves in the middle of a family break up.
Tip 1. Do not trust your emotions.
When an individual experiences a life changing event such as a family break up, emotions will run wild. Basing life choices on emotions will unavoidably lead to destructive outcomes. Avoid making snap decisions. Often situations will come up where you feel like you have to make a decision on a whim. Rarely is it true that a decision is required immediately. Give yourself time to look at your options and get proper counsel. Be sure to use all of the tools available to you when making choices that affect you and your children.
Tip 2. Build a support system.
When going through a family break up, you and your children’s world has changed. Often you have to move, your friends have been polarized, and your world has becomes seemingly so different. The temptation will be to isolate and go through it on your own, thinking “I don’t want to bother my friends and family.” Wrong! Be intentional about building a healthy support system. Chances are, the people in your life want to support you through this difficult time. Find a divorce recovery group, reach out to professionals, and access social service providers. You are not alone and there are people out there who want to help.
Tip 3. Understand the purpose of the court system.
The Family Courts are not designed to punish. The Family Courts are designed to create orders that govern the family during a family break up and enforce orders by providing consequences when orders are not followed. This is a slow, cumbersome, and often expensive process. The Family Courts employ a social worker to conduct family studies designed to provide information to the judge. Because the court system is designed as an adversarial system, parties are often exposed to hearings or trails that bring up uncomfortable information about the inner workings of your once private family business. Neither of the individuals involved in the family break up emerges without mud on them, making Co-Parenting their child even more difficult. The children become the victims because their parents often make it about winning and losing instead of prioritizing the well-being of the child. This results in damage to the children’s emotional and physical health.
Damage to children can be minimized if parents will refrain from making emotional decisions, build and healthy support systems, and work to minimize the court room litigation by working to resolve issues through mediation or counseling.
If you have questions regarding the topic of this article, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that…
In hopes of what?
For many of the nearly 11,000 North Texas children in foster care each year, they have often come from homes where there was no Christmas, no hope. They have come from environments where there may have been no presents, no tree, no joy or love. Then they are placed in a foster home surrounded by people who may be strangers to them, laughing, sharing their family traditions, and having fun.
The day is a stark reminder that they are not with their families and often, 37% of the time, separated from their siblings. They may even feel guilty that the foster family is having such a wonderful time when their biologic parents and brothers/sister may not be. The average child is removed from their home and placed in foster care for 20 months (8% of them wait over five years) and the average wait time for adoption is another 34 months. This a very stressful and emotional time for everyone involved.
These foster children feel like they are in a temporary situation with a temporary family and can’t wait for their parents to get their lives straightened out. That is where NewDay Services comes in.
For nearly 23 years, NewDay has been helping parents restore their families by empowering them with the tools and life coaching to redirect their lives and be reunified with their children.
NewDay’s Healthy Parenting Programs work because we demonstrate care for moms, dads and their families, change hearts, and provide redemptive opportunities through engagement, coaching and encouragement.
NewDay gives these parents and their children hope. We give parents the hope that they can overcome the struggles and poor choices to create a stable, safe and loving home for children who are desperately hopeful and waiting to be reunited with the parents they know, need and want.
Like you, we understand the crucial need for every child to have love, care, safety and stability. This Christmas, as you share your own family traditions, please think of all the families that are in crisis. Together we can make a difference in the lives of these children. We can restore hope.
Fathers have a tremendous impact on the character traits developed in their children. While every child is born with a personality that makes them uniquely them. As they develop, character traits are “infused” from the people closest to them in their lives. There is a strong difference between personality and character.
Personality, by definition, is a person’s natural inclination to do or respond in certain ways. Kids may be born with a funny, more outgoing personality. Or maybe they are more naturally introverted, serious, or analytical. These traits are ingrained in their DNA, and they naturally lean toward these tendencies. Character traits, on the other hand, have more to do with the values that motivate attitudes and behaviors. These traits provide a person the sense of right or wrong morally.
When raising our children, we desire our kids to have quality characteristics like these:
Honesty Hard working Perseverance
Compassionate Generous Loving
Integrity Resilient Spiritual
Loyal Caring Responsible
Respectful Kind Courageous
We would all be proud to raise a child with those traits. How can we do our part to make that happen? Here are a few things I have learned along the way raising my own children:
Children will be no greater than the role model that has demonstrated character traits to them.
As a father, you want to set the level of the character traits that are developed. Your life and your influence will infuse these character traits.
To put it another way, if you want your child to have high integrity, then you have to demonstrate integrity in your life. If you want your kid to have perseverance, then you have to show them what that looks like. For example, you can demonstrate perseverance when you have failures. Show them by not giving up, getting back in the game, choosing not to blame others, or wallowing in pity. If you say, “I just want my kids to be better than me” you are kidding yourself. YOU HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN YOU! They are a sponge and will soak up who you are and your character traits. Talk is cheap, show them by your life. It is not about what you say, but what you do.
SHOW, don’t tell them.
How, you ask? Spend time with them. Don’t say “go and play with your friends” while you have to work to do. Take them with you to Home Depot. Have them help you work on the car. Let them paint an inside wall with you. Does it take more time to paint a wall with a 5 year old helping you or doing it by yourself? Of course it does! But it is those times that your kids soak up who you are and your character traits. They will cherish those moments throughout their lives.
Look for “teachable moments” to demonstrate character traits in your own life.
These happen daily in your life. For example, if you hit a car backing up in a parking lot, leave a note with your information instead of driving away. They are watching to see if you have integrity! Be an INTENTIONAL role model to them.
Dad, I will leave you with this: your children want to be just like you. You are their hero. Live your life and demonstrate good character traits for THEM. They will soak those traits up from you like a sponge. How you live your life is a direct template for how they will live theirs. They are watching you, be the adult you want your child to become!
P.S. This topic is explored by fathers just like you in week eight of our FOCUS for Fathers classes. Consider joining me for a series as part of your own development as a great dad. Give is a call and we can make it happen! 817.926.9499
No Day is Quite the Same
What better place than a Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) to be able to embrace so many miss-matched pieces of a child’s life from behind a lens that seeks to encourage, pray, connect, and refer! As a volunteer chaplain inside the walls of the Tarrant County JJC, it is an honor to have such a mission. Just as God created us all uniquely, it can be very clear that no child or family at the JJC experiences anything quite the same as anyone else. However, the role of a chaplain is to bring a calm and steady presence as well as a listening ear, being prepared to turn each hurting, angry, scared and lost person toward the love and compassion of Jesus.
This morning, I started the day with an email from a detention officer. It was a request to visit with a girl at my earliest convenience. This is a typical occurrence and a practice the staff has become accustomed to requesting. (How welcoming to be invited by the security staff into a part of the facility where they are required to keep order as much as possible!) When I went to visit with her, she immediately began to tear up and tell me that she did not know what was wrong with her. She “didn’t know if it was anxiety or depression or what it was, but at night in [her] room, she felt like she was going to die and that the walls were caving in.” I got to hug her, and then we talked about her situation. By the time we ended talking, she was breathing regularly, not crying, and promising me that she would eat and drink everything she could “stomach,” and that she would use her words with the staff so that they could keep a close watch on her. I also told her that I was going to call the staff psychologist, so that he could assess what type of supervision she might need. And from there, our conversation ended with a, “thank you”, a half grin, eyes wide open with hope for a better night’s sleep, despite the stress of an upcoming court date.
In the afternoon, I entered a holding room just outside of a courtroom. Two juvenile girls were waiting in there until someone – their assigned probation officer – would take them into court. They were each arrested last night; one girl had been to the JJC, but the other had not. Soon after introducing myself, the repeat offender asked me if I’d pray. The new detainee apparently did not connect that I was there for spiritual support. She had a look of surprise and almost a sudden transformation of peace. I could tell Jesus lived inside her because her Peace looked different than someone, who perhaps makes a conscious decision to just stop crying so to get on with a “last shot in the dark” prayer. Being short on time, I quickly prayed for each of the two girls. When I finished, both of the girls looked me straight in the eye and seemed to be trusting that I was going to listen to anything they had to say. I also trusted that they were hearing every word I was saying. So, I used my last 30 seconds to point out to each of them how special and important they were, and how I believe God heard our prayer.
Other interactions I had at work, just today, included a short conversation with an attorney regarding his next career step, waving hello across the lobby to another attorney, passing by a detention supervisor and agreeing with him that it’s “good to be ‘teammates’ in this place,” receiving an email from a probation officer who wanted to thank me for friendship and check in on a personal matter I’d shared with her, going to lunch with a mixed group of current and previous employees, and preparing merit-based certificates of achievement for juveniles. The JJC is a place full of stress, yet God placed chaplaincy right in the center, if only to make daily connections with people, who just don’t want to be alone “right now.” Each morning, as the day unfolds, it is interesting and refreshing to see just who will cross my path. Praise the Lord! No day is quite the same!