Single Parent Q & A with David and Lisa Frisbie

...waiting for my mom - _MG_4741
source: sean dreilinger

Q. My ex is never on time to pick up the kids. We arrange to meet at McDonald’s or somewhere—then my ex is either way late or he doesn’t show up at all. This is really wrecking my schedule and giving me some anger issues.

A. Your ex is behaving in ways that are childish and irresponsible. While you probably can’t change the values of your ex, you may be able to speed up his maturity and modify his behavior.

Your best approach may be to set and keep some good boundaries. However, before you begin this process, make some firm decisions about what you are willing or not willing to do. Think through all your options: begin with the end in view.

Here’s how it might work: Tell your ex that you and the kids will be at McDonald’s from 7:00 to 7:15. Explain that you are not able to wait for him past 7:15—so if he can’t get there on time, he can’t have the kids this weekend. Just as you do with your own children—say what you mean and mean what you say.

Expect to hear every excuse in the book. Expect him to text you at 7:14 and say that he is running “a little late.” Think through all of these likely scenarios before you establish your boundaries. How flexible are you? How long will you actually wait? Once you have decided your boundaries—keep your boundaries. There are only two likely options if you do so—your ex will mature and start showing up on time, or else your mediator or family court representative will back you up on your clear, fair boundaries.

Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie serve as Executive Directors of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies in Del Mar, California. They are family counselors and authors, specializing in the post-divorce family. Frequent speakers at conferences and seminars, they have traveled to all 50 US states, 9 provinces and 2 territories of Canada, and more than 40 world nations to teach, speak, and train family counselors. Lisa and David are the authors of 19 books and dozens of articles about marriage and family life; their articles are frequently featured in ParentLife and BabyLife magazines.

God and Seat 9B by Lisa Frisbie

inside of plane
source: raffik

Boarding a cross-country flight, we were disappointed to learn that exit row seats and bulkhead seats were not available. This meant that my husband, 6’6″ in his socks, would be cramped and uncomfortable as we flew across the country to speak at a marriage conference. We chatted with a friendly gate agent, looking for options. Noticing my husband’s height, the agent offered a solution.

“I’ll book you an aisle and a window, and mark off the seat in between,” she told us. “Other agents won’t fill that seat; nobody will sit there unless the flight sells out.”

We thanked the agent, boarded on schedule, and took our seats in 9A and 9C. With the seat between us open, my husband could angle his long legs a bit, gaining much needed space.

Imagine our dismay when, just before the exit doors closed, a flight attendant marched down the aisle to our row. “Here it is,” the attendant said clearly, “Seat 9B. This is where you’ll sit during the flight.”

Walking behind the flight attendant was a slender, dark-haired little girl wearing jeans and carrying a stuffed bear. My husband and I exchanged quick glances, both of us with the same unspoken thought: “Oh no, there goes our extra space!”

We should have realized—God was up to something.

I offered the girl my window seat, hoping she’d accept so my husband and I could sit side-by-side. “No thank you,” the girl replied, smiling. “My name is Taylor. What’s your name?” With that, our conversation began.

Would you believe that Taylor, age 7, had just experienced the divorce of her parents, and was about to make her first-ever solo flight between Mom’s house and Dad’s house? And God, in His ever-creative way, decided to put Taylor in Seat 9B, directly between two marriage counselors who specialize in the post-divorce family!

For the next three hours, my husband and I answered Taylor’s intelligent, non-stop questions about what divorce would mean for her. Did her parents still love her? Would she grow up to be normal? Would she end up getting divorced too, if she ever got married? Taylor’s questions were wise beyond her age. We answered honestly, positively, and talked matter-of-factly about God in our conversation. We always do!

On landing we needed to hurry to our speaking appointment. We made sure the flight attendant had full custody of Taylor and that Taylor was well protected before we left the gate and dashed toward the car-rental counter.

One of the last things we did was give Taylor a brochure and our business card, telling her that she and her parents were welcome to e-mail us any time. But we were a little surprised when Taylor’s father e-mailed us less than 24 hours later, thanking us for the positive way we answered Taylor’s questions. “I am so thankful that my little girl was seated between two people like you!” the father wrote.

A week or so later we got an e-mail message from Taylor’s mom also. “Taylor just told me about her flight down to see her dad,” said the mother’s note. “And I wanted you to know that I prayed and asked God to put the right people around Taylor as she flew, people who would protect her and care about her. God is so good!”

Never underestimate God’s ability to answer your prayers, and protect your child, if your son or daughter has to travel solo. Take the time to pray—and watch as God answers your prayers in creative and meaningful ways.

Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie serve as Executive Directors of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies in Del Mar, California. They are family counselors and authors, specializing in the post-divorce family. Frequent speakers at conferences and seminars, they have traveled to all 50 US states, 9 provinces and 2 territories of Canada, and more than 40 world nations to teach, speak, and train family counselors. Lisa and David are the authors of 19 books and dozens of articles about marriage and family life; their articles are frequently featured in ParentLife and BabyLife magazines.

Homeless @ Heathrow

If you have been keeping up with the news, you are aware of the air travel problems all over the world due to the volcanic ash in the air over England from the volcano that erupted in Iceland. Two of our favorite ParentLife writers, David and Lisa Frisbie, are actually stranded at London’s Heathrow Airport and have been for days! And as Lisa says, "What do writers do when they’re stranded? If you said ‘Write,’ you’re right! Here’s proof."

Friendly Faces, Trustworthy Places
 
“Would you mind the kids for just a bit?” asks a friendly voice. We look up; the speaker appears to be British, female, mid-30s. As a family counselor, I resist my immediate urge to be flippant. “Mind the kids? Don’t you think it ought to be the other way ‘round?” My wife nods before I have the chance to look foolish.
“We’d be glad to,” she says, smiling at our nationalized inquirer.
 
131_airport.jpgHomeless @ Heathrow, we’re among an estimated 500,000 people stranded in the United Kingdom, far from their homes. We’re en route to speak at a regional conference for pastors, missions workers, and their families – and we don’t yet realize that this “volcano thing” will entirely prevent our attendance. So we’re minding the kids – in this case Ian, about 4, and Natasha, perhaps 18 months. Their mother, traveling alone with two small children, simply wants to stand in line for the restroom. (Standing ‘on queue’ in these parts.)
 
Why has she chosen us? We’re not that close to where she’s seated; we are several sections away. Yet this single mom has chosen us out of the crowd of possibilities. Always curious, I speculate about her selection process. We are new to our 50s, wildly happy as grandparents, obviously a much-in-love couple. So much so that other travelers often ask us “Are you on your honeymoon?” To which we always reply, with wide smiles, “Yes! We are.” Technically the wedding was 31 years ago, but yes – we are honeymooners. So when nature calls, this single mother seeks out a happy married couple to ‘mind her kids.’ Little do we realize: This may be our first such customer, but it won’t be our last.
 
When you’re stranded in an alien airport with your children and there’s no prospect of immediate relief in sight, what do you do? You look for friendly faces and trustworthy places, hoping and praying that maybe you’ll get it right.
 
This mother chooses grandparents a few sections away. She leaves us the kids, although we notice she turns around a few times just to be sure things are OK. Ian warms to us immediately, showing us several of his tricks. He’s cute, sociable, and precocious without tipping over to annoying. Natasha is not so easily sold: She fixes us with a deep glare which seems to say “You’re not my mommy and I’m not fooled!”
 
In any case, we survive the experience and we’ll end up having quite a few more. A grateful mom returns from her bathroom break refreshed and ready to resume her maternal duties. “Thank you soooo much,” she says to us in a lilting British accent. Turns out she’s from South Africa, not the United Kingdom. We watch her mentally consider offering us some money for services rendered. We wouldn’t accept it anyway, but she seems to reach the conclusion that her money isn’t needed.
 
She’s right about that. We’re just glad to be serving and helping. Ian likes us, we’ve made some new friends, and now Natasha has her mommy back.
 
Here at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4, all is well.
 
— David & Lisa

Have you ever been stranded somewhere with your children and in need of help? Tell us about it!