Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Infamous Dog Bed!

One thing that makes a motor home adventure more enjoyable is the effort the manufacturer takes to make the RV a bit more like a home. You get to enjoy the comfort of beds, a shower, closets—even curtains.

During an RV trip one year my family and I fashioned treasured memories as we took our time stopping at many of the kitschy Americana roadside attractions. What made the trip more pleasant was the little things we did to help us feel at home—a favorite pillow, a family photo, or just a souvenir fridge magnet. I learned this valuable lesson the hard way.

During the first weeks of my divorce, it took only a few nights to realize I was neglecting the importance of a welcoming environment for my kids.  I made the mistake of being a little cheap and buying a dog bed for my son to sleep on. Yes, you read that right—a dog bed! You know, the large round kind you buy for a Labrador retriever or German shepherd.

I’m such an idiot.

The pooch cushion was new, clean, and comfortable. Caleb was young enough to enjoy the idea rather than be disgusted. He would lie down on it, wrap it over himself like a giant taco shell, and giggle himself to sleep. He never complained, but when I tucked him in and saw him on the ground sleeping in a canine cot I knew it was an absurd idea. I was getting weird and my kids were paying the price. I quickly got a real bed for Caleb.
The point I’m getting at is this: Men, in the midst of chaos, we need to make life for our kids as normal and homey as possible. We must create the illusion of something more permanent so our kids don’t feel they are camping out for the weekend in our man-cave. At the very least, we should make it a motor home experience, if not something better. Allowing our kids to live out of a piece of luggage every other weekend probably shouldn’t be a long-term option. Nothing speaks “This isn’t your home, kid” louder than a fridge that only contains moldy cheese and a bottle of beer.
Making your place a warm and inviting environment is all part of parenting. Our kids need us to be the dad, not a fun single uncle. When you can replace your Gladiator poster with a framed portrait of Grandma, your kids will experience an underlying sense of being home when they are with you—whether for a weekend, a summer, or full-time.
Ask Yourself:
  • When you’re around your kids, are your words or actions reinforcing a sense of camping rather than permanence?
Learn to laugh at yourself. Tell us one of your mistakes in the comment box.