A single dad perspective on life with children

I remember telling my daughters’ moms that I couldn’t get the girls that weekend because I had something work-related that came up and I had to go out of town for something more important.

The truth is that I lied.  I was broke.

Not only was my electricity about to be turned off, but so was my water.  Payday was far away and I scrambled trying to figure out what I’d do, what I could pawn and how I could make just a little bit of money to get me through.  My car payment was grossly overdue, rent was already ten days late, and I owed the neighbor $200 for helping me keep my water on from the prior month.  The stress kept piling on, bills kept rolling in, and I was sure that I was destined for a busy intersection with a cardboard sign.

One of the most humbling experiences was going through my daughter’s piggy bank and taking her money.  I remember making a promise to myself that I would pay her back one day.  She didn’t have much in her bank but to her it was her life savings, and for me, it felt like I was trying to save a life.  Mine.

After removing all of the couch cushions and finding mainly cracker crumbs and hair ponies, I went upstairs and started looking for all those little piles of coins I never valued before.  All of a sudden they were like little mini jackpots to me.  I started looking around the house deciding on what I could pawn.  Most of what I had had little value, except my old wedding ring, which got pawned for $100 eventually.  Those days were stressful, and my income wasn’t enough to keep me afloat.  It seemed to me that I was slowly dissipating into a life of burden, and I began to feel what I never wanted to feel:  Poverty.

Not having my girls that weekend made me cry, and I deserved it.  I lied.  My mind intertwined the fact that I was broke, therefore I must be a broke ass dad, which is what happens right before being a deadbeat one, so I thought.  I started to believe that I wasn’t fit for the job of dad, and that I’d be a drain on society and a depressing experience for my girls every other weekend.  I was afraid that they’d tell their moms that they didn’t want to visit me because dad’s house is boring.  This was a very dangerous spiral for a single dad without hope.

But then I found hope.  I found it through not giving up.  What I learned though is that I don’t need money to have a good weekend with my girls.  When I removed those couch cushions I realized I had more pillows and blankets throughout the house.  I created a gigantic pile of fun to jump on.


When we went to Target, I started spending the first hour or so playing hide-n-seek with them in the clothes section.  I didn’t have a bike for my littlest one so I’d take her to Dick’s Sporting Goods to ride their demo one throughout the store.  (Santa eventually bought that bike for her for Christmas by the way, so I’m sure Dick’s doesn’t mind)

And when my oldest and I get together, we do stuff like this for hours:

My problem existed in valuing money over time.  Money will come and go.  Time simply goes.  That weekend that I missed was the best weekend I could have ever missed.  That lie that I told was the best lie I ever told.  It helped me realize that I don’t need money to have these unbreakable relationships and unique experiences with my daughters.  Needing money to have a good time is a lie.  You need time to have a good time, and don’t let the time run out, you never know how much you have left.

Jon Vaughn is a single dad with two daughters.  Feel free to write a comment, post an idea, or contact him through JonVaughn.com.  Oh, yea, he would like your pledge too.  Don’t forget to visit Jon’s Kickstarter Campaign and support Genesis, a mobile application that tracks custody, visitation and support for single and separated parents.



We’re trying to raise money for my Kickstarter project, Genesis, a child custody, visitation and support manager for single and separated parents.  Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1700886053/genesis-a-child-custody-visitation-and-support-man and choose a Reward.  If you can’t afford to pledge right now, please share our campaign with someone you know that is affected by separation.

We’ll do some more videos for you later.  This is one of her favorite things to do.


Ninety-five percent of the time, my 11 year old daughter sings to tasteful music to the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, and Bruno Mars.  She sits on her Kindle for hours, reading lyrics, practicing songs and finding her own voice and applying her style to it.  Once she thinks she might have it down, or close to, she’ll ask me, “Dad, can you learn this one on guitar?”  And so I do, and so we play together and it’s a lot of fun for us both.

So one day as we’re doing this, she’s belting out Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, and I’m doing my best trying to play a guitar version of it.  She gets to the fourth line in the first verse to sing, “Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare” but she didn’t sing shit.

No seriously, she didn’t say the word shit.  She left it out, gracefully skipping over the word attempting to move on and pretending like shit didn’t exist.  So I stopped her and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa Kiddo, you left out a word.”  She says, “I know, but it’s a bad word.  I’m not supposed to say it.”

That moment brought me back to when I was a child and the active threat of a bar of soap entering my mouth if I ever said shit, or any of shit’s cousins.  I’m sure you know which cousins I’m talking about.  I remember the time I sat in my room, trying to whisper it into my pillow, worried that my mom was on the other side of my closed bedroom door with a bar of Zest in her hand even when I knew she wasn’t home.  It brought more intrigue to me because it felt like if I ever said shit, I would go to hell and never come back.  There was only one thing to do.

I said shit.  I started off with a whisper into my pillow and ended with saying shit in a natural tone, like “Can I borrow some shit today?”

I waited for the door to fling open but it didn’t.  I peeked through the space between my door and the carpet, looking for my mom’s feet but I saw nothing.  The anxiety about this sat with me for awhile, almost to the point where I wanted to tell on myself just to make me feel better.  It was like I did something wrong, but I didn’t hurt anyone.

So, my daughter and I had a conversation about this shit.  I mean seriously, this type of stuff is important shit.  Kids today use curse words they can’t even spell, and if anyone is going to teach my daughter about cussing, it is going to be me.  This is what I explained to her, in a nutshell:

Yes, using curse words is not really that cool.  You hear it all the time at school, and just like this song, you read the words as well.  I’m glad you recognize this as a bad word, and it brings up a red flag inside of you.  That’s big.  And honestly, I’m glad you aren’t the type of kid that thinks cussing is cool.

The use of cuss words has everything to do with how you’re intending to use it.  If I’m meeting one of my friends, boy or girl, I might say, “Hey, what’s up bitch,” knowing that my friend knows I’m just kidding around.  But if I said that same word out of anger, even to my own friend or especially a stranger, then that is where cussing gets ugly.  It can make a bad situation worse, and escalate quickly.   With Adele, she has a clean version that says “ship” instead of “shit” but when I sing it, I like to sing shit because I believe that was the way she intended the song.  She is passionate about what she is singing, and shit probably nails her true feelings, not ship.  So when it comes to your singing, sing what feels right to you just as you did by not saying it, but don’t ever say I told you that you can’t say that.  You can say whatever you want but you have to understand how you’re intending to use your words.

That was some cool shit because she truly understood what I meant.  We ended up starting the song over from the top and singing the song completely through.  Did she end up singing shit?  That shit doesn’t matter; it’s the moral of the story.

Jon Vaughn wrote this himself and now writes about himself in third person because that’s what you have to do sometimes.  He is a single dad with two daughters and enjoys the hell out of being a single dad.  You can find him playing hide-n-seek inside Target during hot summer days in Bakersfield.  He is currently accepting pledges at Kickstarter.com for his campaign Genesis, a child custody, visitation and support manager for single and separated parents.  Visit http://www.JonVaughn.com for his email and a link to the campaign, or just go here:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1700886053/genesis-a-child-custody-visitation-and-support-man and give him a bunch of money.