A Single Dad: Unplugged

single-dad

by Elsa Kok Colopy

Robert Beeson could hardly believe it. His wife of 13 years wasn't coming back. While she had made choices that damaged the marriage, Robert had to concede that his devotion to his job had also harmed their relationship. As the founder of Essential Records (producer of groups such as Jars of Clay and Third Day), his passion for ministry had eclipsed time with his family.

Once he realized what he had done, Robert tried to rescue the marriage — but he was unable to recapture his wife's heart. Now with three little girls left in his care, all he could do was pray that God would guide him.

Life wasn't easy. As a single parent with full custody, Robert began every day with an overwhelming sense of isolation, and his time was consumed with helping his girls — 12-year-old Zoe, 10-year-old Skyler and 7-year-old Zara — get through their days. He worked, came home, fixed dinner and tried to be superdad to his hurting daughters.

When he searched for resources to help him raise his tweens, he became frustrated by what he found. The entertainment world offered only the Disney Channel and "Hannah Montana" — nothing that reminded his girls of the identity found in their Creator. Worries plagued him. How am I supposed to raise three girls, teach them everything they need to know and give them a real faith?

Out of his concern, and with his daughters as inspiration, he proceeded to build a family-friendly entertainment company. He approached Zoe, Skyler and Zara about the idea. They were thrilled to give suggestions about what they would like and what would fuel their faith. Together, this single-parent family birthed iShine, a tween-focused ministry that includes tween-age artists, tours and even a TV show designed to inspire tweens to find their identity in Christ.

iShine took off, and Robert found himself once again in the precarious position of balancing work and home life. While the girls joined him on tour and loved being involved in the ministry, he also wanted moments for just the four of them. He set aside time every night for dinner together around the table. The same thing for bedtime — no cursory prayer and then back to work. Robert wanted to hear about his girls, know their world, interact with them.

And even on his most recent tour, when a thousand things needed his attention, he unplugged and stole away with his daughters for the afternoon. They caught a movie together; then they talked about how the story had touched them.

Robert is tough on himself. He knows his tendency to get wrapped up in work, so he turns off his phone during dinner, leaves it downstairs during bedtime and takes the girls to the neighborhood pool — a place he cannot bring his phone.

On such an evening not too long ago, Robert laughed out loud as he scooped up Skyler for another toss into the water. She shrieked with delight, flew into the air and splashed close to her sisters. As she swam back to him and flung her arms around his neck, Robert held her close. I'm not going to miss out on this, he thought to himself. Today won't come back. Once I say good night to these girls, this day is a wrap — this moment, gone.

"Again, Dad, again!" Skyler called out.

He tossed her again.

Single-Parent Toolkit

Balancing work and family is no easy task. Here are some simple solutions to help you connect with your children:

Turn off your phone: During meals and bedtime, make sure you eliminate connection to the outside world. Give your focus to your kids.

Take a day to rest each week: Maybe all the laundry won't get done, but your family will have a much-needed time to refresh.

Don't go it alone: Single parenting can feel lonely. Share the load with another single-parent family or with your own extended family. Accepting help will allow you the chance to recharge and reconnect.


This article originally appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2010 by Elsa Kok Colopy. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.


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