Being a single parent as my children grow

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

After being divorced for only a brief period I became the custodial parent of three wonderful children — two boys, ages eight and 10, and a 12-year-old daughter.

As I reflect on their growing up years in our home, life was actually not that difficult for me as a parent. I was an involved parent and pretty much knew where my kids were at all times. I assisted them with their homework and volunteered in the respective schools they attended. I was fortunate to be an administrator with a school system, and as such, I had the opportunity to involve my children in the programs I managed or participated such as summer school and staff development activities for teachers.

It was as a single parent that I was forced to learn how to cook. I hated cooking. Each day after leaving work I was faced with the dilemma of what to prepare. My children were very picky eaters, and my cooking became the basis of many arguments. I did my very best in ensuring that most of their meals were healthy and balanced. My daughter was the primary instigator of some of the arguments. If she didn’t like the food, the boys would become suspicious of it as well.

I remember very specifically, in one instance when I bought turkey meat, instead of beef, to use in preparing chili burgers. After seasoning the meat and leaving it to simmer on the stove, I left the kitchen for a brief period. When the chili was complete, I called the children to the table, not knowing that my daughter had investigated what I had cooked and had told my sons that I had cooked a skillet full of small earthworms! Suffice to say, none of them wanted anything to do with what I had prepared.

My being a single parent was well known in the Atlanta area, and my kids and I were featured more than once in the major print and broadcast media. The attention centered around my being a male, raising young children.

This resulted in my daughter and me being guests on the popular Oprah Winfrey show. The program was about the use of corporal punishment in raising children. In that I was a proponent of the government not defining how parents raise their children, the program became more a debate between a noted child psychologist and me.

Because of my performance in diminishing the position and dialogue of this child psychologist, I was invited as an expert witness before the general assembly in the state of California. My testimony was instrumental in defeating that state’s infamous paddling legislation that would have allowed corporal punishment of juvenile offenders as defined by the court system.

My children are now adults and successful in their respective occupations. When I see them, however, I still see them as small children in need of protection.

Because their mother is a kind of educational ambassador, my kids have had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries. As they occasionally tell me about some of their experiences such as motorcycling in Italy and encounters with security officers in places such as Egypt and India, I privately cringe and realize they truly are grown.