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Bridging the Big Break Up

Sep 27, 2017, 10:54 AM

Joy & Dad

My parents were married but divorced when I was eight.  I vaguely remember the speech about the break-up had nothing to do with me; I was loved and everything would be fine.  Suddenly, I became the child of a single-parent family.

At first, I wondered how I would tell my friends if they asked.  I soon found out we were in the same boat.

Just like them, I had to get used to the fact that my Dad wouldn’t be coming home daily. I wondered what it would be like not eating popcorn together in front of the TV or washing the car while squirting him mercilessly with water. It was my Dad that took the training wheels off my bike and watched me wobble triumphantly up the driveway cheering me on with “Pedal, Joy! You can do it!”

Shortly after the divorce, my Dad announced that he was moving to another state.  Yet somehow, Dad bridged the gap. There were phone calls, letters and visits. Words of wisdom coupled with laughter and guidance magically appeared.   During the summer, I visited his new city and did all the fun activities a Dad and a daughter do together.

When I was 14 years old, my Dad moved back to my city. Just in time to teach me to drive!

I remember it vividly.  I was trying to drive by mimicking the car’s driving pattern in front of me. My Dad said, “That car is not paying attention to where it’s going and you’re trying to follow it.  It’s straddling the line and not driving correctly. Since you’re trying to follow it, you’re making the same mistakes. Instead, you need to focus on what you’re doing, drive like you practiced and don’t tail that car. Learn to look way down the road so you can anticipate road blocks and don’t have to switch lanes abruptly or lose your positioning on the road.”  That lesson became my personal blueprint for driving and life.

I was fortunate to have my Dad as a strong male role model, yet many single-parent family children (children of divorce, unmarried parents or adopted by single parents) miss this experience.  Please help enrich children’s lives by supporting male engagement through the Million Hours of Power Program. Show your support and vote daily in October for the Pepsi Refresh Project to support this effort.

Joy Lindsey lives in Alexandria, VA. Her parents live in Jackson, MS.  She is the only child born to her parents, yet the oldest of her siblings.