A single dad I know, let’s call him Rob, is trying to raise three teenage sons on his own. He works a full time job and then goes home to another one–raising his kids. He doesn’t get much of a break.

He’s got a great disposition (he’s one of those guys you just like being around.)And so do his kids. When you talk to Rob, you just don’t think he would have that many challenges or struggles. Everyone seems so easy going.

When we were chatting a few weeks ago, he told me about his duck pond.

“Some days are just so stressful,” he said. “Life and work can get complicated, and there are days where I just can’t go home and unload on the kids. But they have their own challenges and sometimes it’s just tense.

“What’s really hard for me as a single dad is that I don’t have a buffer. I don’t have anyone at home to talk to my day about, because the kids are not really an appropriate audience to hear every struggle their dad has.”

“So on rough days, I leave work and before I show up at home, I go to my duck pond. I’ll get out of the car and sit by the water’s edge and watch the ducks, sometimes even for half an hour. I’ll reflect on the day, process my issues, and draw a deep breath before I get back in the car to go back to the building where we live. It helps so much. Then I can face my boys and their issues. I need to be there for them.”

I have so much respect for Rob’s approach. It shows a maturity and a selflessness as a dad that I so admire.

Then he turned to me and said, “What’s your duck pond?”

That’s when I realized I wasn’t sure I had one. Sometimes, as a married dad, I can use my wife as that buffer.  And sometimes my kids feel it too. Not that I talk to them about every issue, they just feel the shorter fuse.

But I’m not sure it’s fair to let your spouse or kids bear the full weight of your frustrations. They need me to give, not just take.

So, what’s my duck pond?

Well, I love biking. I bike regularly, but I think sometimes when I have a bad day, I’m just going to slip into the garage before I show up in the kitchen, head out on my bike and pedal my heart out and pray and reflect before saying a word.

What’s yours? Do you have a duck pond? How might your family be stronger if you had one?