Often, career advice, love advice, and advice on how to be your happiest self is rooted in the idea of finding your “purpose.” Authors, counselors, and religious leaders express to us that we are here to do something, and staying focused on our “why” for being on this planet will result in us living our best lives.
But more often than not, I encounter people who have no clue what their “purpose” is supposed to be. They spend so much time trying to figure out how to discover their purpose that they are missing out on living the life they are in, and so concerned that they can’t be happy without a purpose that they don’t enjoy the happiness in front of them.
If you’re trying to figure out what your purpose is, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to keep looking for it—it’s possible that in living your life, your purpose is going to find you.
For most of my life, I did not know that I was supposed to become a children’s author. I always enjoyed books and reading, and dabbled in writing short stories for adults, but I was focused on living the life I had in front of me. I was a single father living out the purpose life handed to me when it brought me my son.
In living my purpose of being a father, I would read my son bedtime stories, and eventually we started making up our own stories about a red crocodile named Crosley. Slowly, and over the course of many years, it dawned on me that Crosley could become more than a bedtime story kept as a secret between me and my son. When my son was grown, my new purpose had spent time building itself up inside me—I was supposed to write the Night Buddies books.
I’m not saying that it will be easy, or that you should put no thought into what you are supposed to do with your life. But if you do these three things, your purpose might just find you:
1. Follow your curiosity.
2. Make connections between your responsibilities and your passions/hobbies.
3. Be open to allowing your “purpose” to change over time.
Do you think having purpose is important to your life? Let me know in the comments!
There’s this secret a lot of single parents hold inside of them. A secret they think sometimes they might be judged for, that society would look down on them for, that their children won’t forgive them for. It’s a secret I used to hold inside of me while I was raising my son, by myself for the most part. It’s a secret with consequences I am going to reveal as myths, right here, right now.
The secret is that sometimes as a single parent you just need help.
I don’t know at what point in time parenting started to be thought of as a one-man job. Moms parent, dads go to work; dads parent, moms go to work; if you’re a single parent, you somehow work and parent and figure out how to do that all on your own. But you chose to be a parent, which means you must be prepared to go at it by yourself, right?
Wrong. Why is it acceptable for you to have an assistant or intern at your job, but bringing in a babysitter or live-in nanny means you just aren’t parenting well enough? Society might be more accepting of this way of parenting now, but it still doesn’t erase the guilt I know many of us feel—the guilt that we aren’t giving our children our all, or that we are somehow failing by reaching a point where we have to ask for the help we know we need. That guilt is a tricky little sucker who carries the weight of “unworthy” on his shoulders and plants it in our brains.
I am unworthy of help because I volunteered to be a father. I am unworthy of help because I can work from home. I am unworthy of help because my child needs me to be there. These are all sentences I have told myself before. These are all sentences that hold no truth.
It is okay to accept help as a single parent. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t there for your child, or that you aren’t parenting well enough. Sometimes it actually means you are parenting better, because with help, nothing slips through the cracks of your son’s or daughter’s childhood. They will always have the help and support they need, always have someone taking care of them, and not your half-attention when you’re trying to work and earn a living to support your family and raise them at the same time.
Throw away your guilt when you enlist family, friends, or professionals to help your raise your children. It takes a village to raise a person to be their absolute best, and you’re doing the best you can.
Have you ever felt the guilt of asking for help as a single parent? Share your story with me in the comments!
So often in today’s education emphasis is put on science and math skills for children to work on and improve, pushing things like writing, art, and music to the side because they are labeled as “less important.” But Ol’ Sands knew when he started creating the Night Buddies stories with his son that allowing children to strengthen their right brain and explore their creative sides can actually benefit them just as much as learning science and math skills can! Here are the top four benefits children gain from being creative:
Helps develop communication skills. When you ask a child to draw a picture or write a story about a certain topic, they have to think about how to communicate a certain theme or message creatively. They have to truly understand their subject, make conscious choices, and be able to clearly justify their creative decisions. This helps build their ability to communicate clearly and concisely with the people they engage with. Give your child a prompt, or a specific task, such as “I want you to draw our family,” and ask them why they make the dog a bow, or why they put a big smile on your face and a frown on their sister’s face. When you engage with your child as he or she creates, you help build their communication skills exponentially.
Allows your child to work through emotions or anxieties they might not even truly understand. When your child writes a story, he or she will probably choose themes and story-lines that reflect what they might be dealing with in their life. Maybe they’ll choose to write about or draw a small kid battling giants, reflecting their own feelings of being bullied at school. Maybe your child is experiencing stress over your recent divorce, so they work through the pain on paper in a safe and productive way. Gaining the skill to work through their emotions through creativity is a benefit that will last all their life—there is a marked difference between adults who know how to manage their stress and ones who drown in it.
Improves problem-solving skills. When your child wants to draw a picture a certain color, let’s say pink, but doesn’t have that color crayon, he or she is forced to experiment to see what colors can mix together in order to create the desired color. Or maybe they write a story like Night Buddies—getting their main character into trouble leads them to the decision that, as the author, they also have to get their character out of that trouble. In this way, creativity actually helps your child with their mathematic skills, because their brain will be oriented toward problem-solving.
Gives your child a taste of independence and ownership. When your child has a finished drawing, painting, story, or poem in their hands, they are rewarded with the satisfaction of having created something entirely on their own. They made each decision that went into the piece, they put in the time to create it, and they get to own the satisfaction of seeing your smile as you praise their hard work. No matter if your child is the next great American novelist or Picasso, or not, as long as he or she put in effort and is proud of the final product, they have earned the right to feel proud of themselves.
So the next time your child is telling you all about their imaginary friend Crosley and showing you all they wrote down about their adventures, don’t laugh it off or worry too much about them (this is a technique used by John’s mother in the Night Buddies series). Instead, read their stories, hang them on the fridge, and know that your child is reaping all kinds of benefits from that overactive imagination!