I don't claim to have any particular
expertise with regard to interpersonal relationships or
parenting issues, but I have things under control. When
my children and I are in public, people often comment upon
how well behaved they are, how much fun we appear to be
having and how lucky I am to have them. Where exactly does
one go when they need good advice? I personally would have
no idea where to send them.
You cannot count on therapists and counselors; what credentials
do they actually have? In Florida, a counselor can be just
about anyone who wants to hang out a sign and I understand
that this is true in most places. It seems sad that people
who need help can be counseled by those with no legitimate
claim to the knowledge, training, education or experience
necessary to be helpful.
Nor can you count on your friends as they generally don't
know the facts you won't share with them and they lack the
expertise necessary to proffer advice if they did. Furthermore,
people who have trashed their own lives, often seek to vindicate
themselves and validate their failures by encouraging others
to do the same. Whether they are friends of yours or not,
don't seek the counsel of losers; losers tend to self-servedly
create other losers.
Of course there are always plenty of "self help"
books and talk show experts, but have you ever noticed that
the experts who claim to know everything there is to know
about child rearing and interpersonal relationships typically
leave their children and significant others at home when
they appear on TV? Why do I suspect that there is a reason
One thing is clear to me. Children need their parents and
the structure of a family unit no matter what the nouveaux
liberal intellectuals have to say. It is incredible to me
that the force behind the single most embarrassing example
of family integrity I can think of can proclaim that, "It
Takes a Village" and people will listen. I suppose
she made a fortune on her book.
Apparently, there is a strong market for bovine excrement
in this country and this market is met by self proclaimed
experts who, understanding the realities associated with
"the bottom line," propound and promote marketable
agendas rather than encouraging hard work, integrity, responsibility
How wonderfully seductive it must be to be told that your
personal failures, and irresponsible behaviors, are justifiable
and understandable. I suppose that making the liars and
losers of the world feel good about themselves must be a
Frankly, I am not particularly impressed with the "system"
either. I am eternally grateful that we are blessed with
social services employees who work hard for little compensation,
struggling to do the impossible with inadequate resources,
but it looks to me like altogether too much money they could
put to good use goes to pay "experts" who create
cute little euphemisms to help us avoid calling things what
A family in the throes of divorce is no more a "Family
in Transition" than the Titanic was "Buoyancy
Challenged." Spare me the "feel good" rhetoric
and give the money that pays for it to Children Family Services,
Child Support Enforcement or the Office of the Guardians
However we got here, and whatever "expert intervention"
we enjoyed (or suffered) along the way, we as single parents
are the default captains of ships we cannot allow to sink
as everything in the world we care about is at stake. Competent
or not, fair weather or foul, we have an obligation to the
crew we brought with us - a responsibility to do for them
as best we can.
Unfortunately, there are no charts to guide us and help
us steer clear of the rocks and shoals. Although we hear
them a lot, the "I cannot afford to . . .," or
"I haven't got time to . . .," excuses don't work
for us; we come up with the money and we make the time.
I cannot tell you how to deal with this other than to tell
you what works for me.
On my ship, there are no excuses or recriminations. What
could have been, or should have been, is no longer relevant.
Don't get me wrong - I have had many failures in my life,
I do care, and it troubles me, but allowing myself to ruminate
upon the past is an exercise in futility as endless as it
is ineffectual. I just don't have the time.
On my ship, I recognize that I have no right to happiness
or any entitlement to dream. I have a course to hold which
is my responsibility and I am accountable for the welfare
of all souls aboard. When things go well, it's because I
have a competent little crew and we work together; when
things don't go so well, it's my fault, and my failure to
On my ship, it's always my watch. I keep a firm grip on
the tiller and a weather eye out for trouble on the horizon,
steering by the lights as I see them and compensating as
soon as I see we're off course.
On my ship, we have fun. I make sure that we enjoy ourselves
because I know that our journey has no destination and we
sail together for just a little while. I know that when
all is said and done, it's all about the course we held
and the events that transpired along the way as I taught
these kids about responsibility and how to sail a ship.
On my ship, I keep my crew happy but I know what it is
to feel alone. I am sad and disappointed that I find myself
without the company of someone with whom I should be sharing
this wonderful experience and it's a tragedy that hurts
my heart. Sunset at Fiji, the Aurora Borealis and the clarity
of the Southern Cross are no less beautiful in her absence,
but it damn sure doesn't feel that way.
I cannot give you advice other than to exercise caution
in accepting the advice of others. Don't be afraid to do
things the way you think they should be done no matter what
the experts say. Remember, the man who built the Ark was
an amateur boat builder with no experience and everyone
thought he was crazy; the Titanic was built by experts thought
to be infallable.
Ask yourself what you could do better and do it. There's
no reason to make it complicated; simply do what you know
in your heart that you should, and do it the best that you
can. Nobody could ever reasonably expect anything more from
you than that.