The Joys and Pains of being a Solo Father

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Single parenting presents its own set of complicated factors. While Attn.com points out that, “Nearly 10 percent of households are headed by single dads, a major increase since 1960, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center report,” there is little to no awareness of the challenges that single fathers face. Here are just a few of the issues many single dads have to tackle everyday and how you can overcome them.

The Stigma

Western society tends to perceive the role of fatherhood in terms of lacking the care-giving gene. As a result, there are many situations that may present themselves leaving you feeling inadequate as a parent. For example, other parents may not feel comfortable letting their children sleep over if a mother is not present. There are also inefficiencies concerning public bathrooms and the lack of changing tables in men’s rooms.

Additionally, most men are not up to date on doing their daughters hair or helping her through the various stages of development. However, you can work to break these barriers by educating yourself online and through parenting books as well as communicating openly and honestly with other adults.

A New Family Dynamic

Depending on the situation that led you to singledom, your children may be reeling from a lot of turbulent change and could act out in turn. Instead of feeding an emotionally charged environment, create a stable and secure home life for them and yourself. Make a schedule and stick to a routine. Do even the most mundane household chores together and use it as a time to listen and understand their fears and anxieties while sharing your own. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and discipline when necessary. Even in this challenging time, you can come together as a family and learn from one another.

Lack of Support

Parenting isn’t necessarily easy with a partner, let alone without one. For single dads, there are usually fewer resources available than for single mothers. However, that shouldn’t stop you from finding or forming a support group in your area. Reach out to someone you know who has gone through the same thing, whether it’s a single mom or dad. Just opening up a dialogue about parenting will help you feel less alone and more empowered within your role.

You’re just one person, so it’s important that you know your limit. Instead of feeling guilty that you can’t do everything, hire the help you need. It can be exhausting and nearly impossible to properly juggle one’s work responsibilities, a personal life and your child’s well-being alone. By hiring transportation,  cleaning, or meal service, you might be able to better balance everything and focus on what’s most important.

Mental Health

The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. In order to take care of your kids and really be present for them, you need to make time to replenish yourself. Rather than suppressing your emotions, it’s imperative that you find healthy coping techniques to release them and blow off steam, as letting thoughts fester could negatively impact your overall health. The Huffington Post recommends that you “do one thing each day that gives you joy — and tell your kids why you do it, and why it makes you happy.” Chances are they will pick up on your example and make good choices as well.

Lastly, consider meeting with a therapist regularly to help you gain more insight. Most importantly, spend quality time with your kids and create lasting memories. You’ll soon learn how rewarding it is to watch your children flourish before your eyes.

Daniel Sherwin

We must have heard and read about the struggles of single mothers. It’s very heartening to see single dads doing their best for their children too. Daniel Sherwin runs DadSolo.com.

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