My parents divorced when I was in elementary school and my mom mostly raised me. My dad was around, but we lived on opposite sides of town so I only saw him every other weekend. Because our time together was limited, he always tried to make the visits extra fun. That left my mom as the parent who had to enforce discipline. I’m sure many single mothers can relate.
Both my parents worked in the oil industry. Like a lot of working parents, my mom seemed to spend more time in the office than at home. Every respectable mother wants to provide for her kids and I know that my mom was just trying to do what was best for me.
But as a kid, I felt like I was on my own. I would wonder if she really had to work 60 hours a week, or if 45 would have been better for the entire family. I didn’t get much quality time with either of my parents. And as I reached puberty, I started to get into a lot of trouble.
The Struggles Of An Angry Child Of Divorce
The real trouble started in eighth grade when I got mixed up with a bad crowd. I started getting in trouble at school, but because my mom worked until late at night, I’d just erase the school messages before she got home. I started having more than just the typical teenage problems. My friends and I, like many troubled teens, abused our unsupervised freedom. I was arrested for the first time in ninth grade, and I continued to get arrested or detained about once a year after that.
This is not to say that my mom didn’t discipline me. I was expected to live by her rules if I wanted to live in her house. Drugs, of course, were not allowed, and I got kicked out of the house more than once for breaking that rule. I would say that my mom did that right; she had definite ground rules with consequences.
She was also great about encouraging me to try new experiences. She’d push me to volunteer, and it’s because of her that I met many of my mentors. And it is also largely due to her influence that I ultimately left the military to write books and programs designed to help parents bond with their children.
In 2003, I joined the Navy to defend our Nation. I was deployed to Iraq, and when I got back from that first deployment I found myself in trouble again. Older and wiser now, I sat down and started to reevaluate my life. I wound up writing a letter to my mom. In the letter, I told her how I wished she could have worded things differently so that I could have understood her better when I was a teenager. I also told her that I had grown up a lot, and though I hadn’t been able to see it at the time, looking back I was able to understand everything she had tried to do for me.
That letter would become the basis for my first two books. By that time, my mom had started her own business, MWH Public Relations. We started working together to develop the books and promotions. I was almost 20 years old then. Finally my mom and I were having real conversations and connecting with each other in a way that we hadn’t been able to before. Working together forced us to learn how to communicate with and respect one another.