Single Parenting Tip: Involve Your Kids in Big Decisions

Peaceville (notice the long, flat driveway!)

About a year after my divorce, I brought the subject of moving up to my three daughters. I had been through a nasty two-year custody battle and the thought of a fresh start was appealing to me. It made a lot of sense to distance ourselves from some of the people in our neighborhood who were negative influences in my divorce and my kids’ lives. I gently ran the idea by my kids and they were rather lukewarm about it. Let’s face it, they had been through plenty of changes and I could see on their faces that yet another big change was not what they had in mind.

After praying about it and still feeling called by the Holy Spirit to make a move, I approached the kids again over dinner one night. This time I said, “Okay kids, what would make you REALLY excited about moving? I mean jumping up and down, running around the house screaming, excited?” They pondered for a minute or two and then they started to chime in. My oldest said, “A swimming pool in our backyard!” With that, the other two yelled out, “YES! That would get us really excited!” Then one of them said, “A flat driveway to ride our bikes.” (Pathetically, the kids were forced to ride their bikes in circles in the garage since our driveway was sloped like Mt. Everest.) Again, another round of cheers from the kids. Then my youngest said, “A cat!” Boy, oh boy, that was a tough one. We had just gotten rid of a psycho cat that liked to use our dining room as a litter box. I swallowed hard and said, “A cat? Are you sure?” I got a resounding “YES!” from all three girls.

By the end of dinner, they were all gleefully jumping up and down asking me how soon we could move. Their lukewarm attitude had totally changed. Suddenly, they had some real say in what their future looked like and it got them really fired-up. I told them that I would go to work on finding a house that had a pool and a flat driveway. (I also held my nose and agreed to the cat as well.) I told them that if I could not find a house that met their requirements, we were not moving. I also told them that if I found a house, I would bring them to see it for their approval before buying it.

Over the course of the next couple of months, I looked at many houses, but none fit the bill. Then one day I got a call from my realtor. He said, “Hey Vince, a couple of houses came on the market over the weekend that I think you should look at.” The last house I looked at that day was perfect. It had a really long, and really flat, driveway that wrapped around the house. It had a great pool, complete with a diving board. That night I brought the kids out to see it. They loved it! They were jumping up and down with excitement and kept asking how soon could we move in. I tried to explain to them that I had to actually buy the house first before we could move in. With the kids approval in hand, I put an offer on the house that night and had a contract on it the next day.  Everything happened so fast, I didn’t focus on the fact that I hadn’t even put my current house on the market! I was about to become the proud owner of two houses. Yikes! That was a problem as I could really only afford one house. Well, God came through is a BIG way as I sold my present house in only 22 days. (That tends to happen when you are doing His will.) I never had two house payments. God is so GOOD!

Great pool!

The kids and I moved out of our present house and into our new house and never looked back. They still talk about the exciting times surrounding our move. I learned a big lesson from this experience: involve your kids in the decisions that impact them. Kids impacted by divorce suffer greatly from a loss of control in their lives. As a result, they tend to be very sensitized to even the smallest changes. Allowing them to have real and meaningful input will give them a sense of control over their future and they will embrace the decisions as they are made–even big ones.

Oh yea, my kids even named our new house. They call it Peaceville.

(c) Vincent Frese, II

Originally posted 2010-05-03 17:35:38.

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2 thoughts on “Single Parenting Tip: Involve Your Kids in Big Decisions

  1. That is such a great reminder. Sometimes it’s not so much what you say, it’s how you say it. Asking the Holy Spirit for the right words is a great start. I do the same thing just before I step up to the ambo to lector. But when I need to ask someone something tough, or need to figure out how to approach a problem, invoking the Holy Spirit always seems to work.

  2. Wow. I can’t imagine being divorced and having 7 children-that must be super tough-on everyone, but I am happy that things are working out. My husband and I went through a divorce, but we got back together before it was final; he isn’t Catholic and I wasn’t back then. It was hard enough just having one child. I hope you and your family are well. Take Care!