Oct. 19, 2020

42 Craig Rodney on Single-Dad-Hacks

42 Craig Rodney on Single-Dad-Hacks

“I am 100% responsible for how I choose to walk through the door at the end of a day and parent my kids.” Craig Rodney, on DADicated.com

Craig Rodney sold his agency and committed himself to being a full-time dad. He’s the primary parent to his boys (4 & 6), a situation which challenges the parenting narrative of our society.

We talk co-parenting after divorce, why it’s easier to be a dad (than a mom), dad-efficiency-hacks, picking battles and the concept of perceived “selfishness” vs “self-first”. Craig is very funny and the session was super fun! Enjoy!


“I am 100% responsible for how I choose to walk through the door at the end of a day and parent my kids.” Craig Rodney, on DADicated.com

Craig Rodney sold his agency and committed himself to being a full-time dad. He’s the primary parent to his boys (4 & 6), a situation which challenges the parenting narrative of our society.

We talk co-parenting after divorce, why it’s easier to be a dad (than a mom), dad-efficiency-hacks, picking battles and the concept of perceived “selfishness” vs “self-first”. Craig is very funny and the session was super fun, enjoy & thanks for listening!

The most powerful takeaways for me as a dad were:

  1. Being responsible for your children is not the same as being responsible to your children.
  2. Consequences only feel like a punishment to your kids if you do not explain them upfront.
  3. I’ll make sure I am in alignment with my wife around parenting issues.

GUEST (Craig Rodney):

Philipp Hartmann (host):

Transcript

“The best advice I can give myself as a dad is to put my phone down a little bit more and spend more time simply watching my kids playing and being themselves because there is magic there.”

CR

In South Africa, the courts talk about residency. The children have a primary residence. What is your children’s postal address? Craig’s house is seen as their primary residence. Other than that, everything is shared. Decisions are shared. Parental responsibilities shared. Everything else is on the table. 

PH

Travel – can they travel without consent? 

CR

Finance responsibility – separate from residency. His situation – in their marriage contract – the business and any proceeds were excluded from common property. Proceeds remained his. Everything else was split equally. He bought the house with his business money. Finance – she pays a contribution every month towards school fees and any major incidentals. Living costs – he pays (food, upkeep, clothing). 

PH

Concept of – what’s the easiest way to do this? Explain approach:

CR

When Craig became a single parent and he had a 2 year old and a 4 year old, it is easier being on your own. More work but easier. Reason – what he remembers about being married, there was always tension around who was doing what around the kids, feeding, bathing, etc. When it became just him, it became easier to accept that everything is his responsibility. His approach was pragmatic. The only way he was going to survive and have nay hope of doing a semi decent job as a parent, was if he made it as easy as possible. One of the biggest advantages he has, (he is a school mom), he has zero guilt when it comes to making decisions that are deemed societally as being selfish. Hates the word selfish – negative connotation. His preferred words are “self-first” – he is a big believer in prioritising himself and his needs and what will make this effective over what society deems you should be doing as a parent. Went about it practically. Started looking for everything little thing that made being a parent easier. E.g. One of the sad side affects of SA history, but advantage, is that he has a housekeeper. Discussed the divorce and the help he needs. Stella was on board. The agreement was that he does the shopping but any time she opens the fridge, please cook it and Tupperware it. He cares about surviving. Veg, protein, starch. He then doesn’t have to cook for kids. The 30 mins between kids saying hungry and getting dinner sorted, they have food. Now are 4 and 6. Been 2 years since divorce. Stella process works. 

Between Stella and him, She took on the house running and allowed him to focus on being a parent. Cooking dinner for your kids doesn’t necessarily make you a good parent, spending time with them and doing puzzles or read or talk is more important than cooking them a meal. As a parent your have to make sure they are fed and it is healthy, but he doesn’t care if he doesn’t cook it. 

PH

Thinks it is important, especially for boys, and weather with Stella or Craig, need to learn how to cook a meal and how to be connected to food and what good food means and there is value in that. But that is in the process of making a meal together. 

CR

Choosing what you sacrifice. Can’t have it all. He can’t do everything and he has to choose what he can do and that’s a balance of choosing on behalf of his kids and what is on behalf of him and what is good for both. During marriage counselling – advice – you are 100% responsible for the person that walks through the door at the end of the day. He would get home hungry and tired and didn’t have time for wife or kids. He is 100% resp for the parent that he is to his children. In order to be a good parent, he needs to at times, prioritise himself over everything else. The best e.g. he has ever come across is when you are on an aeroplane – safety briefing - in the event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Please secure your own mask first before assisting other passengers and children. Why? Reality, if you can’t breathe, you are no good to anyone. So many paretns do not embrace this principle. You have to not do something for your children. Have to prioritise yourself first sometimes. A lot of people think they are being a bad parent if they choose to apply their own oxygen mask first sometimes. He thinks the opposite. The best way to be a brilliant parent, you need to Prioritise your own health first, if you do not have the energy, you will be present but you won’t be as affective or involved as you can be. 




PH

there is a big difference between being responsible (response-able) for your children. But you can be responsible to your children. Different concepts. People don’t think about this concept. Get safe and sort yourself out first. Make sure the engine can run. Same in family 

CR

If the kids need to sit with granny for an extra 30 minutes doesn’t matter if they will have a healthy present parent. When you go through divorce, it is tough getting divorced when you have young kids. He has to believe that his kids would want 2 happy parents separated, rather than 2 unhappy parents together. Similar truism with their time with you. Would rather have less time with you where you are present and happy rather than more time with you were you are thread-bare and just holding on. You have to prioritse yourself. Stella saved his life in the beginning. How to give advice in other countries where you don’t have a Stella and he doens;t know. 

PH

I have advice. Get a VA. One in business. She helps him with everything. Saves time. Time is the one thing he doesn’t have. Can focus on business and family. Save time with a VA. 

CR

Concept he applies religiously in his life. Doesn’t believe in the principle of making time or finding time, time is finite. What he does fundamentally believe is that you buy time. What you need to do is look at going, who can I find that I can pay money to, to be able to complete tasks that are of low value to me and to my life, and if I can pay them a lower rate, then that time is worth to me having it back, then I will buy that time back. Any service where you pay a premium, for a level of a product that gives you  more time  back, the price of the time is very low compared to what you could do with that time. He will look for every scrap of time that he can save by paying a little bit of money, and if he can get that time back, what would he do with that. Pre-cooked chicken from woollies as opposed to cooking one. There is a price but you get time allocation back. Aside from Stella, the biggest revelation he had when he became a parent to these 2 little boys, was very early on, no more than 2 weeks being at home with his kids, he was having a bad day and feeling stretched and insecure about his ability to do this, the boys were in the bath and having fun and splashing and playing and giggling and instead of seeing that as something beautiful and natural for 2 young kids, he saw it as an afront to himself, because they were making a mess and that was creating more work for him, and he didn’t need more things to do. Systematically through there fun were creating work for him, He walked into the bathroom and lost his cool with them. He stormed out and went into the next room and it is the lowest point he had as a single parent. He felt so ashamed and embarrassed about how badly he had handled that situation. Losing your cool and screaming means you in a bad place and  he knew he was. He knew he was handling it wrong so he walked back into the bathroom and apologised, daddy had a bad day. You can have fun and I don’t mind if you splash. You have to clean what water goes out the bath. Easiest simplest thing was if you make a mess you clean it. They were cleaning up the water after, he was still a bit grumpy. So made sure they did a good job. Then he put them in their pjs and the rest of the night was fine. Looking back, he created a rule with how he wants to parent alone. Caveat – if there is risk of death the rule does not apply – but beyond the risk of death, here is the rule – you have free will, but you are not free from consequence. And that’s it. He tries to apply it as widely as he can with his boys within reason of physical danger or anything major. Won’t go to war with you about going to bed early, but will be waking you up at 6am. And if you are tired, you will deal with the consequences. If you don’t want to eat your dinner, you can eat it later, nothing else. Outside of that, your next meal is breakfast. 

By adopting this as broadly as he can. He doesn’t have fights with his children. Whether or not your kid eats their dinner shouldn’t be the hill you die on. If they splash or stay up later, these should not be battles. We have enough battles. 

PH

You are assuming collaboration. Asking for a 2 and a 4 year old, other than shouting at them, how do you teach them collaboration?

CR

by speaking to them like adults. One of the biggest things he learned about managing human beings back when he ran his business, was consequences only feel like a punishment if you didn’t explain them upfront. If you do something and I hit you wit a consequexne at the end and you didn’t know about them, it will feel like a punishment. If they agree upfront, the first thing it does is that it makes it easier to enforce when the time comes because they knew it was coming. Kids are hyper intelligent and know what is going on. You know the rules but you have to help me. Tolerance is needed but this is a long game. Long term investment. From a young age he has talked to his kids as they are competent human beings. Becayuse they are. This is wht I need your help. He has used the line, guys, you need to understand, it is just me. Just daddy. I need your help. And they get it. 

PH

Explained this to his kids too. Went walking with the 5 kids. Can’t handle all 5. If I say we turn around, we turn around. If you don’t collaborate with me, we can’t do things like this together. Appeals to their sense of understanding, that if you want fun, we need to work together. Sometimes you have to just listen. 

CR

Asks PF if he negotiates with his kids. No shouting. Where is your window of acceptance, threshold, where are you in balamce. Who owns the problem? You  increase that window where your tolerance is higher. 1. Win-win negotiation. 2. Being strict. 3. Lose-win – child does whatever the child wants and you get nothing. Can choose number 3 because sometimes it is easest to give child what they want.  A small child – all they have is what they want. They have no consideration for what you want. They have to learn that level of empathy. If you allow to lose all the time because it is easier, they will grind you down. Can’t. 

PH

Do you take away privileges? 

CR

He tries to avoid any delays in punishment in a broader sense because by the time the punishment arrives, the crime was so long ago, that it feels like cruelty. So he is quite a soft dad on the whole, and for some reason, his kids are well behaved, he gives free will. He has been successful at getting buy-in from them that there is only him and he is on his own. And if we can’t handle, we are going to leave. Managed to get their understanding and buy-in. If we going to go on adventures, there is no choice but to listen to what I have to say. 

PH

Does your wife align with you as single parents?

CR
were aligned when married in parental approach. Soft is better than hard. Empathy and understanding first and foremost. Were sympathetic to tantrums. It is like a trauma (like stubbing your toe). They not handling, so a response was a cuddle, it is going to be ok. You are emotional, that is ok. Haven’t discussed hard and fast rules. Both make same mistakes. Both shout when lose control. Not great. Cooper is eldest – turning 7. Told him about the recording. Cooper asked why. Asked him he thinks he is a good dad. He said no. Why not? Because you shout at me. There is your mirror. 

PH

Dr Robert Brooks believes kids need a spanking and to learn respect. 

CR

Mom never shouted. Was the silent strike kind. The one area he is learning to improve is seeing his children differently. One is an empath. You can’t shout at him. Have to talk to him and explain things and as soon as you do, he gets it and buys in. These are the things you can do that make me happy. It is not wrong to tell your children what makes you happy. He loves that he knows how to make him happy. Youngest – less so. He is a rock. Stubborn. Haven’t figured out what works yet. Nothing works for him. Be careful of nominative determinism. He is tough, emotionally tough, stubborn, strong. Both are very different. And it is interesting experiencing both and how they evolve. Most part of this is trying to not fail too often. 

PH

Parents too often beat themselves up for not having performed the way they think they should.

CR
talk to your children.

PH

What do you want to share?

CR

The biggest thing for him from an advice perspective is if you are divorced, he believes that you are highly responsible for your children’s relationship with their other parent. And that has to be a priority over your issues you may have with that parent. He got divorced with a 2 and 4-year-old, not long after separation it was wife birthday. Recently separated, Emotional. Sore. You still need to be responsible for your child’s relationship with that parent. Asked kids what they want to buy mom. Got photos printed and framed and wrapped everything and helped them do a card. You have to invest the time that is required to enable and empower your children to have a good and healthy relationship with the other parent. That is built in and is sad when divorced parents don’t represent that very well. 

PH

Parental alienation. If you interfere, you can’t take that back. Don’t speak about the other parent in a negative manner. You can’t undo that. AS a child, you will be affected by the opinion of your one parent towards the other. Form of child abuse. 

CR
Even if you avoid the negative, it is still your responsibility to rise into the positive. It is not good enough to be neutral. Lucky he has a good relationship with his ex. But that is a choice. It is not accidental. You have to put the time in. Otherwise you are being cruel to your kids. 

PH

Valuable. Thank you. Valuable perspective. Mainly hear about the dad as the add on. C is a testimony that dads are very much an essential part of the parenting mix and fathers are very much parents as much as mothers are. 

CR

Advice to parents to be or parents of young children – how to create a culture of an active father in a baby’s life. Funny story – were at a braai when she was 8 months. There was a 6-month old. Could hear the girls talking. She was saying he doesn’t help with the child. The husband was moaning that everything he does is wrong, no matter what he does she corrects him. If I’m going to get into shit, I may as well get into shit for doing nothing, rather than something. So he made a rule with Cal that they would both have an equal say in making rules how they looked after the baby. Separated roles and researched out it would be done. If he took on her roles or responsibilities, he did it her way. A husband is allowed to set rules about how they raise a child, but you have to do it together. The narrative around fatherhood is fundamentally flawed. Mothers think they have the authority on knowing what is best for the child and this is not true. Dads have a different view but it is not wrong. If one parent assumes they have authority over making the riles, the other feels that they have to defend themselves. People can be condescending towards dads alone with their kids. 

Just because as a man you are good at business, you can just as well be good at dealing with kids. Man or woman! By empowering dads, we are empowering moms.

Craig Rodney

Craig began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 26 when he started a communication agency which he eventually sold and exited in 2016. Since then Craig has focused on building his agency coaching business, a tourism content business, investing in start-ups, looking after his kids, and most importantly, looking after himself.

Craig and his wife separated early in 2018 with Craig becoming the primary caregiver to their two boys (now aged 4 & 6). He takes being a dad seriously, although he’s rarely a serious dad.

Craig’s passion is storytelling (his nickname is Stories), and his favourite personal project is running the @southafrica Instagram account which he has been doing for the seven years.