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Archive for the 'Friendships' Category

‘Coraline’ and the distant parent

August
5

Watching “Coraline” on DVD this past weekend, I cringed and even paused the movie to turn to my husband and say: “I hope that’s not how the Pumpkin sees me.” If you’ve watched the movie, you are familiar with the scene in the beginning when Coraline fails to wrest her mother’s attention from her computer screen. (Warning: If you haven’t seen <a href=”http://coraline.com/” target=”_blank”>”Coraline,”</a> stop reading now and go rent it. It was wonderful.)

I was speaking mostly in jest, of course. I’ve never shooed away the Pumpkin so harshly, but I have to admit that there are times when she knows that I’m working on the computer and can’t play with her. Given the amount of indulgence and love my daughter gets in general, I’m not worried about her. But Coraline does make you think about children who aren’t so cosseted and whose parents really do tell them they are too busy to make time for them much of the time.

The evil witch who preys on Coraline’s vulnerability isn’t just a fairy tale creation. There are those who prey on young children by offering them the love and companionship they are missing at home. Just as the “other mother” offers Coraline the homecooked meals and cozy surrounding she craves in hopes of stealing the child away, pedophiles and other criminals can weasel their way into youngsters’ hearts by exploiting their need for love. Children are vulnerable when their parents are absent or uninvolved. Even if they don’t encounter a witch who wants to steal their souls and replace their eyes with buttons, they will encounter peers with dubious morals who might offer the approval they aren’t getting at home.

While cast as a fairy tale (that would earn an R rating if it were a live-action picture)‚ “Coraline” teaches its younger audience about the dangers of believing in something that’s too good to be true. And it provides a reminder to the parents watching that if you aren’t there for your child, someone else (someone scary) might be.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 2:36 am |
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The discipline game

August
12

How many shared-custody situations are out there where the child prefers one parent’s home to the other because “it’s more fun?” Particularly for younger children, this usually means that one parent’s home is all about play and the other involves actual parenting — rules and restrictions and doctor visits and doing homework.

I can think of several single- and divorced-parent situations where this is the case. In one friend’s case, the dad’s house has tons of toys and the child is routinely treated to milk shakes, donuts and sweets, and is allowed to fall asleep on the couch watching TV. Because the dad routinely has the child on weekends, there are few situations where the child has to be woken up early, dressed and prepared for school. The child gets up when the child gets up, and then it’s usually a day of fun in the sun.

Then there’s the mom. She has to get the child to school, has to be more conscious of dietary needs and is constantly trying to include vegetables and protein in meals. There are plenty of toys and play time, but with school, doctor visits and other utilitarian tasks built in, it pales in comparison to the nearly limitless play time at dad’s house. The end result is the parent trying to do the right thing for the child is the “less fun” parent, and has to regularly hear her child ask to go to daddy’s house.

She’s not alone. Another friend’s teenagers see their dad’s house as a refuge and a “safe place” when the mom tries to set curfews and limits on this or that. She’s forced to instill discipline. The end result is that one of her teens finally moved in with dad, who has provided little financial support for his children’s needs and close to no emotional support. The teen now lives with few rules.

And this is gender neutral. I’m highlighting two of the situations I know of personally, but I — of all people — don’t want to sound like I’m beating up the dads. I had friends in a single-parents group I once belonged to who were dads in similar situations. One dad who lives in the Carolinas was raising his children almost entirely on his own, carting them to school, tutors and the doctor while constantly hearing from them how mom never made them do these things. The mom primarily showed up to blame the dad when there was a problem at school. He, like my two other friends, have been forced to do the hardest thing of all: Keep quiet. They refuse, to their credit, to set the record straight for the children. They refuse to put the kids in the middle. They shouldn’t.

But what does one tell a parent in that situation? My advice has been to keep doing the right thing and ultimately the child will appreciate it — or at least one can hope so. The pessimist in me realizes that poetic justice only happens in plays and novels, not in real life. My more optimistic side clings to the notion that good intentions and actions are ultimately rewarded, if not with appreciation then certainly with the satisfaction of knowing you made your child a better and healthier person in the end.

Because it would just be nice to know that it’s a game where there are no real losers.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
| | 7 Comments »

The school dance

May
20

Friday was the big night out for my son — his school dance.

This was my son’s second dance, coming on the heels of last year’s fourth grade gala. The fifth-grade version wasn’t much different, except that I have learned to be less intrusive. That is to say, the first time around my ex and I were both there, and she kept prodding him to go and pick a girl to dance with. Not sure what we were thinking, because I wasn’t exactly love-struck at his age.

This time around I was on my own, so I backed off and let him do his thing. I noticed that I was one of the few solo parents there, and actually felt like something of an outcast being a single parent. That’s something that rarely happens with me, so it was an odd sensation. One of the other parents — who I actually went to school with years and years ago — spent a bit of time telling me about his storybook marriage and the splitting of parenting duties he and his wife are able to do: His wife took their son to a Boy Scout event the same night, so he escorted his daughter to the dance. I didn’t take offense, but I wondered why he felt it necessary.

Either way, I did my own thing, and watched from the wings with great amusement. My son, to his credit, stood in the crowd and danced his butt off pretty much  all night. At that age, they’re not necessarily looking for girls to dance with. The girls themselves nearly all dance — again on their own or with other girls. There’s just a real gender divide at this age.

Looking around that room, I wondered when that will start to change. He had his first kiss in kindergarten, and was quite popular with two girls in first grade. By second, he showed less interest, to the degree that now he couldn’t care less if a girl showed interest. So when does that change? I’m sure by high school it’ll be THE issue, over what girl or other he likes or likes him.

In the meantime, I’m good with standing in the wings and watching him do his own thing. As for being one of the few solo parents in the crowd, I’m good with that too. My boy seems okay with it.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 at 10:13 am |
| | 2 Comments »

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It’s vacation negotiation time….again

May
14

Is it that time of year already?

Seems to me that every year my ex and I do this vacation juggling act with our son: Who gets him which week, who has to compromise their plans, who put in for a particular week first, and so on and so on. Frankly, it’s when our amicable custodial agreement is most tested.

This year, my girlfriend and I have plans to head south to spend a week at a beach resort with our two boys, although our departure is delayed one day because of a scheduling conflict with my ex. My ex, meanwhile, has to interrupt her week away to drive back and drop my son off for my scheduled weekend with him. Well, it happens. We’ll work around it. The real tricky part comes with the bartering for weekends. It’s inevitable that we have to swap our weekends for this or that three-day getaway: I want to fly out and see my brother and my nephews on her weekend; she wants to extend her vacation by keeping our son over my weekend.

Let the negotiations begin!

We always end up working it out, and have somehow managed to keep our post-divorce friendship intact. But it leaves me wondering if there isn’t a system we could put into play, or some process that would make this whole juggling act function more smoothly in years to come, particularly as it’s not just the two of us that are affected by our scheduling: There’s her husband and his son, and my girlfriend and her little boy — our blended family. Everyone is potentially inconvenienced if it tips the wrong way.

So, does anyone have a fool-proof formula for this stuff?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

The ex-family unit

April
4

My son wants to make it to a Yankee game this year before they shut down the historic Bronx stadium for good and move next door. No problem there. I’m a longtime and avid fan, and took him to his first game there years ago. I myself have been going to games since 1970, when my dad and uncle took us to the old stadium to see the Bombers get demolished by the Orioles. I also had partial season tickets for years, when I worked out of the Bronx County Courthouse during my stint at the Daily News.

Here’s the catch: My son wants to go with just me and his mom — the former family unit.

I have some mixed feelings on this, and it makes for some awkwardness. I’ve always felt fortunate that my ex and I were able to maintain a friendship, and that we are all able to get along. My girlfriend and I had my ex and her husband over for Christmas Eve dinner (it’s a feast we call Noche Buena in Cuban culture, and it’s a big deal for us), and I had Easter brunch with my ex, her family and her husband last month. As I’ve blogged before, we all went trick-or-treating together last year as well.

To be fair, I can see how my son might simply view an outing to a Yankee game as an extension of the friendship his mom and I maintain. But at the same time, I feel like excluding his mom’s husband and his dad’s new partner is a sign that he may be clinging to something. Obviously, he wouldn’t be the first child to want his parents together, even if it is just for a baseball game.

But are we letting him mislead himself if we go along? Or is it just his wish to have an outing with his parents?

Or am I just making too much out of it?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, April 4th, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Growing apart?

March
27

I knew it would start sooner or later. It still stinks.

On Wednesday, I drove my son to school and, as is our norm, I parked in the lot and we walked into the building together. This has been something of a routine when he’s with me that we’ve done since pre-K, through various school buildings. In past, we’ve chatted a bit, joked with each other and I’ve waited with him until the bell rang and he had to get to class.

This time, he walked in ahead of me, and started talking to some friends, seemingly oblivious to my presence. I called out to him, he looked, I said, “bye?” He replied by sheepishly giving an unenthusiastic wave, clearly embarrassed. So I left, heart wounded.

I’ve always known there would come a time when he’d not want to have his dad there when he was with friends. I figured it out early on, in kindergarten, when he first asked me not to hug him goodbye in front of his classmates. I understood.

But somehow this got to me a bit. Probably that’s because it’s an indication of things to come, the years ahead when he will spend more and more time out with friends than at home playing X-Box or watching a movie with is dad, or out at the park playing ball or sled riding in the winter with his old man.

Obviously, it has to be that way, and it should be that way.

But for now, it just stinks.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, March 27th, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
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Who is having the play date?

February
12

So, I did it. I made a play date for today with a neighbor down the block who has a really cute 18-month-old son named Ethan. This might not seem remarkable to people who know me well and think of me as pretty outgoing, but the fact is: I have been very shy when it comes to making playmates. Pumpkin and I can count on one hand the number of play dates we’d had so far — OK, to be perfectly honest — two fingers. (And yes, I feel very guilty about this.) But there’s something about asking another mom if she wants to get together that brings out the insecure junior high school kid in me. After all, at this age, it’s not like I’m dropping Pumpkin off at the curb. A play date means the mom has to spend the time with me. “But, you’re a reporter! You should be good at talking to people!” I can hear you saying this. And, it’s true, I can pretty much walk up to anyone and interview them. But, the thing is, I don’t know if these skills carry over into the world of women’s friendships. (It doesn’t help when your play date skills get rejected. After one play date that I thought was successful, I didn’t get a second invite.)

Despite this, I got bold about today because we’re going to do something very active together — taking the kids to <a href=”http://www.leaplizards.com/” target=”_blank”>Leapin’ Lizards</a> in Port Chester. Also, we won’t be tête-à-tête because it turns out Ethan already had a play date today and his buddy (and mom) will be coming along, too. Between the chaos of keeping track of three toddlers at the giant indoor play center, I think we’ll all have a good time.

I bring this topic up because I think about how much a parent’s social skills affect their children’s lives. Growing up, my mom worked, so she was never the classroom mom. She wasn’t a big joiner, either, so we didn’t have a network of community contacts. Looking back, it would have been kind of nice to have a mom involved in the school, sitting in the back of the table at bake sales, hanging around the auditorium during school plays, etc. I aspire to be that kind of mom for my daughter, but then I think to myself, “You can’t even arrange a play date without getting the willies!”

What about the rest of you parents? Are you rolling your eyes and saying, “Get over it!” Or, have you had similar qualms? Those of you with active play date schedules: How do you do it? Do you just say to a friendly face at library story hour: “Say, do you want to get these two hooligans together sometime?” Or what?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 at 12:58 am |
| | 5 Comments »

The online scene

January
16

There’s little doubt that Internet dating is increasingly popular among single parents. I mean, most single parents I know are looking for a companion, and a lot of them are turning to the web to restart their social lives. A lot of them.

I think it’s for obvious reasons: Single parents have less free time to get involved in traditional dating rituals, less patience for the “dating game,” and, since they’ve likely been “burned” in some relationship capacity, they like being able to surf profiles to be more selective about who they express interest in. With kids in the picture, being selective is particularly appealing.

Personally, I don’t know too many single parents who haven’t delved into it in some capacity. I do know some who have met mates through groups like “Parents Without Partners,”:http://www.parentswithoutpartners.org preferring the face-to-face encounters that offers, as well as the child-friendly atmosphere it provides. But most folks I know like the convenience of the Internet, and know that the stigma and fear of online dating seems to have subsided a bit in recent years among both parents and non-parents.

But how does one get involved? The top dating sites are certainly active, but not particularly designed for single parents. If you’re considering it, the advice I give single-parent friends is to surf around and read up on some single-parent dating sites. There are plenty out there. But avoid “younger” sites, and hunt down what appeals to you. Then be selective and don’t compromise.

One single-dad blogger who reached out to me this week is putting together an online site that seeks to help. It’s not a dating site per se, but “Single Parent Romance”:http://www.singleparentromance.com offers links to some. More importantly, he’s putting together a list of online resources for single parents and will link relevant blogs in an attempt to create an online community.

I’d put it out there as a good starting point. And remember, while it’s not for everyone, there’s nothing wrong with having options.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
| | 6 Comments »

The dreaded teen years

January
8

Okay, this is way premature: My son is just 10.

But I’ve always accepted that my time with him is limited. We buddy around now and go on treks together, share movies and even joust in X-Box contests now and again. But what happens when he hits the teen years? That’s when dad has to drop him off around the corner so his friends won’t see him with me. It’s inevitable, isn’t it?

This came to mind this week when a colleague of mine told me the latest news about his 15-year-old. Both our sons take guitar lessons and fool around with the six-strings, so we’re always checking in on their progress. This week he tells me his boy has turned in his guitar for text-messaging. In other words, he has a girlfriend.

Now, my girlfriend’s 3-year-old has a girlfriend too. Of course, in pre-K it’s a slightly different dynamic. My son is in fifth grade, and had his first kiss in kindergarten. He has had a girl or two chasing him over the years. He’s still at that age where he blushes at the mere mention of that first kiss, but two girls in particular always come up year after year.

Anyway, the girlfriend isn’t even the ultimate point. It’s more a matter of losing some part of that father-son bond when my boy hits the teens. I know of cases where it hasn’t worked that way, but a lot more where it has. For instance, I have one cousin who remained close with her boys during those years, largely by staying current on the latest video games and playing with them frequently. Another cousin left home early in his teen years due to his inability to relate in any way to his parents.

Will my son be one or the other extreme? Or somewhere in the middle? I bring this up to him now and again, and he tells me that’ll never happen. He’ll always be my buddy. God bless his little heart for saying so.

But, as much as it as a rite of passage of sorts, I do dread it. I mean, isn’t it just a matter of time?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

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Co-parenting with the ex

November
27

I’ve been fortunate in that I was able to establish a friendly relationship with my son’s mom. She’s remarried, and I’ve moved on as well. None of it has prevented us from co-parenting, and my son benefits as a result. I’m always particularly aware of it this time of year, since it allows my son to enjoy the Holiday season without tension between his parents.

I wish that were true for all divorced parents. But, in fact, most of the conversations I have with separated or divorced parents are about the tense relationship with their ex. Of late, I’ve had conversations with two moms at my son’s after school program, and they were both dreading the Holidays because they anticipate some disagreement or other over presents, where to spend the Holidays, etc.

Sometimes in those situations one parent is the cause of the difficulty. But most often, both parents contribute, and the children suffer as a result. The irony is that neither parent ever wants the children to suffer. Sometimes it just ends up that way.

There is no shortage of suggestions on coping with the ex. I found a particularly good list on “the single parent link”:http://singleparent.lifetips.com/cat/9246/ex-spouse/index.html on the “lifetips.com”:http://www.lifetips.com website. The suggestions are a good starting point to fashioning a tolerable relationship with the ex. In the early stages of my split, I found it was necessary for me to bite my tongue and swallow my pride quite often. I’m sure my ex felt the same way.

Ultimately, we were able to form enough of a friendship that those issues could be addressed when my son wasn’t around or on the phone. But in most cases, the issues didn’t seem significant any longer, so we moved on and focused on our roles as parents and even friends. And at no time of year am I more thankful for it than the Holidays.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 at 12:19 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Single-parent dating quiz

November
12

Every single parent has to make their own choice on when they’re ready to date. But why not test yourself?

I was surfing some Internet single-parent and parenting sites and came across this tidbit on the “About.com single-parent site,”:http://singleparents.about.com which I check out from time to time. And there I found this quick quiz, which apparently allows you to assess your readiness for dating if you’re a single parent. The test includes several levels of difficulty, which basically means you can control the number of questions you’re asked.

As I said, it’s a significant decision to make when you’re a parent and you’re starting to date again. But “take the quiz yourself”:http://singleparents.about.com/library/quiz/bl_online_dating_quiz.htm and see what you think. At the very minimum you’ll have some fun. And on the upside, it may help you make up your mind after all.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 4:27 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

It’s good to be a single parent

September
17

Single parents are as happy, if not more so, than married folks. At least that’s what Yahoo! Personals says in a new survey timed to coincide with the start of National Singles Week today.

Now, keep in mind that the survey was conducted by an online dating site, so the results may mirror that. (Note the Yahoo! plug at the end of the article). But I’m a big believer in making the most of what you’re dealt, and taking an optimistic view of life. So this may provide a boost for single parents who occasionally feel overburdened and down on life.

Here’s a newswire article with some of the details:

SUNNYVALE, Calif—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Sep. 17, 2007—Contrary to popular opinion, married (1) people don’t have the edge over singles when it comes to happiness. Just in time for National Singles Week (September 17 -21), a new survey commissioned by Yahoo! Personals and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) reveals that singles, including single parents, view themselves as more so or just as happy, financially secure, and adventurous as their married counterparts. Almost nine out of 10 singles (88 percent) say they are just as, if not more, happy than their married counterparts.
The survey also found that while single parents list finding someone as the most challenging aspect of dating, they face a unique test when deciding how to introduce a date to their children. Twenty eight percent of single parents wait until they envision a future with their significant other before introducing him/her to their children. At the other end of the spectrum, 19 percent bite the bullet and make the introductions when they first start dating.
“It has never been a better time to be a single parent and looking for that special someone,” said Anna Zornosa, vice president and general manager of Yahoo! Personals, the most visited online dating service. “Single parents are typically in a social circle filled with married parents. Online dating expands the dating pool, helping single parents find potential dates who are open to dating someone with children more easily.”
Single and Enjoying Life
The survey results about singles’ lives add context to a U.S. Census Bureau announcement earlier this year that more American women were living without husbands than with them, and a 2005 finding that for the first time, married couples had become a minority of all U.S. households.
When asked about how they perceive themselves in relation to their married friends:
• 88 percent of all singles surveyed say they are just as, if not more, happy;
• 81 percent feel they are just as, or more, successful in their career;
• 72 percent feel they are just as, or more, financially secure;
• 84 percent say they are just as, or more, open to new experiences; and
• 78 percent feel that they are just as, or more, physically fit.
The survey also showed that only 30 percent of singles feel that they are more self-indulgent than their married counterparts. In contrast, 39 percent of married respondents feel that they are just as, or more, self-indulgent than their single friends.
“Compared with their married friends, singles see themselves as getting more out of life,” says Caroline Presno, a psychotherapist, and author of “Profiling Your Date, A Smart Woman’s Guide to Evaluating a Man. “This study suggests that singles are seeing their lives as an adventure, and that they perceive no ’happiness gap’ compared to married friends.”
Bruce Willis: Most Admired Single Parent
Yahoo! Personals also asked single parents which single celebrity parent they most admire. Topping the list was Bruce Willis with 28 percent of the vote. The father of three received more than double the amount of votes as Reese Witherspoon, who came in with 12 percent. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline came in with an extremely low percentage of votes, with Britney receiving 2 percent and Kevin receiving 1 percent. Also on the list was Diane Keaton (6 percent), P. Diddy (5 percent), and Sheryl Crow (4 percent).
Sexy Sells! Singles Reveal Their Celebrity Favorites
Yahoo! Personals also asked singles which celebrity they would most want to date, and topping the lists were some of the sexiest celebrities in America. Out of the single celebrity males, People’s 2006 “Sexiest Man Alive,” George Clooney, received 20 percent of the single female vote for who they would most want to date. People’s 2005 “Sexiest Man Alive,” Matthew McConaughey, was not far behind on the list with 13 percent of the vote. Also included on the list: Andy Roddick (5 percent), Derek Jeter (4 percent), and Ricky Martin (3 percent).
When single males were asked which single celebrity female they would most like to date, FHM’s 2007 “Sexiest Woman,” Jessica Alba, topped the list with 28 percent of the vote. Jennifer Aniston was not far behind with 11 percent of the vote, Queen Latifah got 7 percent of the vote, and Jessica Simpson finished with only 6 percent of the vote. Also included on the list: Maria Sharapova (3 percent), Sandra Oh (1 percent), and Padma Lakshmi (1 percent), host of Top Chef.
About Yahoo! Personals
Yahoo! Personals was first introduced in the U.S. in 1997 and has grown to become one of the leading and most popular online dating services available. The service offers a large, dynamic dating scene where users can search for, meet and communicate with a variety of people. For more information, visit http://personals.yahoo.com.
About the survey:
The Yahoo! Personals Singles survey was conducted by telephone within the United States between August 16 and August 19 among 1,005 U.S. adults ages 18+. Results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region, and race where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.
Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100 percent response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
(1) For the purposes of this study “married adults” are defined as U.S. adults ages 18+ who are married or living as a married.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, September 17th, 2007 at 10:58 am |
| | 6 Comments »

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What makes a dad?

June
15

What exactly is it that makes me a dad?

I got to thinking about this after hearing a discussion on the radio this morning on fatherhood. To be precise, the topic was fathers who came to learn they were not their child’s biological father. There were even a few folks who called in with real-life examples.

Well, I got to thinking about how I would feel in that situation. I think anyone would have a difficult time hearing something like that, particularly if you’ve been raising a child for several years. And it got me to thinking about my own role as a parent.

To me, it is ultimately about the relationship you have with the child, not your DNA. What bonds me to my son is the time we’ve spent together, the things we’ve shared and cried about, the games we’ve made up to play together. So we’ve built something based on shared experiences and genuine emotion. Wouldn’t you agree that’s what matters most?

Last year, a friend told me about her experience as an adopted child. She had reconnected with her biological mother in recent years and they had started to build a friendship. But there was no question whom she considered her true mother: The woman who raised her. She understood that there had been a void in her life before she met her biological mother. But she considered the woman who had raised her as her real mom.

Now, I’m not adopted, and my son is my biological child. And I would love to hear input from those two points of view. But for me, what makes me a dad are my deeds and words, not my genes.

What do you think?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, June 15th, 2007 at 2:23 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

Pricey presents

June
5

When you have children, it seems like you’re always buying birthday presents.

In our family, I’m the buyer of birthday gifts. It fell to me and not my husband, because, well, I like shopping a little more than he does.

Lately, it seems that the cost of these presents has risen quite a bit. I recall when my 13-year-old was a preschooler, I could easily buy a nice kid’s present for $15 or less. As my kids got older, the stakes were raised a little bit, and the norm for a present was about $20 to $25. I could live with that.

But then one year, when my son was about 10, someone bought him a PlayStation game. A PlayStation game?! They run about $40 to 50! That seemed awfully extravagant to me, especially coming from one kid to another. So now, I’m trying to hold down the spending to no more than $30, but then my sons remind me that “Johnny” bought them Madden 2007, so we HAVE to get him a new video game, too.

I’m not in agreement with that. I don’t want to get into any tit-for-tat present-giving; I want them to give gifts because they think that’s what the person would like, not because the value matches the gift they received. But with the way some parents are spending, it’s becoming difficult to keep that lesson in check.

Are you finding the same thing? And how do you deal with it?

Posted by Gayle T. Williams on Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 at 5:20 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

The unsingle parent?

April
3

A few years ago I sat down at my computer and googled “single parent dating.” I had reached a point where I had been a single dad for a couple of years and wanted to try to meet other single parents. As far as I’m concerned, dating is tricky enough without working in the complexities of being a parent. Some people simply don’t want to date you if you have a kid. In fact, I have plenty of friends who won’t date someone who has a child. So my reasoning was to find a social circle of other single parents and not sweat the dating part too much. As it turns out, I did join a group and have friends from there to this day.

But the wider question of dating as a single parent can be daunting. There are scheduling issues because, unless your kids are old enough to stay home alone, you need to find a “free night” for dates. There are the issues of meeting someone who doesn’t have an issue with you being a parent. Some talk a great game, but ultimately have an issue when push comes to shove and your kid takes priority. And if things work out, there’s the issue of introducing your child to the person you’re dating. Add to this the typical issue of finding someone you actually want to date at all.

To me, the solution was to expand my social circle to include more single parents. I found we had so much in common that friendship was easy for the most part. I focused very little on dating, because my belief — which proved true — is that it would follow if all else fell into place. A lot of the issues I encountered with dating as a single parent seemed to be neutralized, because all the major issues I had in the past were much easier to manage: parenting schedules, parenting responsibilities and a slow transition into integrating the children into the relationship if it progressed to that point. We simply tended to be more like-minded on those issues.

Anyway, this is a topic I will continue to address, and I hope there is some input on it. I’ve gotten quite a few comments and emails on it, so I think there will be plenty to discuss. In the meantime — and perhaps to get some of you started — a press release did come my way last week that hits on this topic. Turns out the Theodore D. Young Community Center, 32 Manhattan Ave. in Greenburgh, is hosting a “Dating Strategies for Single Parents Workshop” at 7:30 p.m. on April 13th.

According to the press release, “The goal of this effort is to have regularly scheduled activities which focus on fellowship, networking, and an exchange of information and resources which support singles.” They’re not picking up the phone tonight, so I’ve yet to find out if it’s only for town residents or anyone. Stay tuned. I’ll try to hunt down more events, groups.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 at 6:50 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

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About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE



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