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Single parenting is tough no matter your situation, but raising kids as a single dad has a whole set of problems in itself. The number of single father homes has risen substantially since the 1960s and continues to gain ground. But despite greater social acceptance, solo dads still struggle with issues such as:
Talking to the kids about divorce or death of the mother
In all single father situations, at some point, there were two parents. While a few of these family dynamics were always sans female presence, the vast majority of single father households are the result of divorce, separation, or death of the mother. Discussing these issues as a single father is difficult because today’s men were raised as yesterday’s boys in a time when women shouldered the feelings of the entire family. Psychology Today suggests approaching the subject with honestly and a willingness to answer difficult questions.
Historically, men are accustomed to being the ones providing support, not asking for it. This can make it difficult for single fathers to know how and when to ask friends and family to step in and help with childcare or other issues. One of the best things a single father can do is to find a networking group comprised of other men also taking on the role of primary caregiver.
Making time for self-care
Stress is simply part of parenting. Behavioral Wellness & Recover explains that, “It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.” The drug treatment facility notes that something as seemingly insignificant as playing with your dog or heading to the park can help alleviate stress. And considering that children feed off their parent’s emotions, reducing stress will benefit the entire family.
It’s in human nature to enjoy the company of others. At some point, most single dads choose to get back out into the field and begin dating. This presents unique challenges for single fathers whose children may believe any new woman is intent on replacing their own mother. Single father should assure their children this is not the case and talk to the kids about the decision to date. Avoid the temptation, however, to go into detail, even with older children who may be excited about the prospect of their father finding happiness. Men’s Health further suggests being cautious with introductions and avoiding “revolving door” relationships.
Everyone else having an opinion
It may be grandparents, friends, or strangers at the supermarket, but it seems everyone has an opinion about a man’s ability to raise children by himself. One single father likens this ever-present reality to being followed by a nun ringing a shaming bell. While there’s little that can be done about opinions – or unsolicited advice – it’s best to let these things go and focus on the tasks associated with child-rearing as opposed to the opinions of outsiders.
There is no shame in experiencing these issues or the many other problems that accompany being a single parent. By focusing on your mental health, not feeding off other people’s emotions, and being honest with your children, you can circumvent many of the long-term negative effects so often faced by children of single parent households. Remember, you are your children’s role model and the one whose actions they will emulate when they become parents themselves.
About The Author
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.