Though this website is dedicated to SingleMoms, we also don’t want to forget that there are also just as many single dads out there, struggling to raise a family on their own. Many of the issues single moms struggle with — raising kids alone, trying to work while having to raise kids, etc, are also faced by single fathers too. While there may be some advantages for single fathers when it comes to finding a job (yes, there is a gender bias in the work place that favors men), men also face a lot of issues women don’t. For example, many of the assistance programs out there are geared for WOMEN and CHILDREN, but not for single fathers. We will be having a series of articles just for single dads shortly.
A New Single Father…Where To Start
Everyone who gets married thinks that it will be forever. You hope to build a life with this person, and imagine a future together. Maybe you’ll start a family and buy a home together. You certainly don’t tie the knot imagining that you might get divorced one day. Sadly, things don’t always work out as you planned. Divorce is extremely common, with a hefty percentage of marriages failing – many of them involving children. And although in the majority of cases the mother takes custody of the children, a significant minority of single-parent families will be headed by a father.
In the last half-century, the number of single-father households has increased significantly, and now numbers more than 2.6 million. This means that a lot of men are facing new challenges and may need some hints on the practical and emotional matters involved. Here is what you need to understand to get started as a new single dad.
Becoming a single father doesn’t just mean changes for you; your children will have to adjust to seeing less of their mother and maybe moving to a new place. They may also feel that the split was somehow their fault. So the key is to be open and talk about it. Let them know that they can talk to you any time about what has happened and how they feel. Make it clear to the kids that they are not responsible in any way for the separation, or for repairing the relationship. Talking and openness helps everyone concerned.
Although you are mourning the loss of your relationship and familiar life, you shouldn’t dwell too much on what has gone wrong. You need to get on with building a new life for yourself and your children. Living in the past and trying to figure out everything that went wrong won’t help. Therapy may be useful, however, to help you understand and avoid repeating the same mistakes in future relationships.
The kids can help with daily chores
Don’t let guilt make you overcompensate and do everything for the family. Most children can help with suitable chores for their age. It may be helpful to draw up a chart and allocate certain chores to each child. Participating in the household routine will help them feel involved and understand that everyone needs to contribute to running a home.
Set Some Rules
Setting rules will make it clear what is and isn’t acceptable, and will help avoid many problems. For example, you can cover a lot of issues by making one of the rules that nobody should cause more work for others. This will help the kids understand that they shouldn’t leave the bathroom messy or leave toys all over the place for someone else to clear up.
Teach them to put dirty dishes straight in the dishwasher, rather than in the sink or on the worktop. Food or drink should stay in the kitchen or dining room, and not in bedrooms or the lounge where it can get spilled on carpets. Also, tell them to keep hands off the walls, to avoid marking them.
Designate laundry days
When you’re raising a family, there’ll be a lot of laundry to do. You need to wash clothing regularly or the laundry will soon pile up. Make it easier by designating days to put the washing machine on. Older kids can take care of their own laundry; just show them how the machine operates. Make sure that the clothes are separated into whites and non-whites, so that you avoid any mishaps like having a stray red sock turn your white shirts pink! An easy way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to buy a dual laundry basket that has one space for whites and another for non-whites.
As a single dad, you’re not necessarily helpless, but if people offer help then don’t be too proud to accept. You’re taking on two roles, so appreciate that you can’t manage to do every single task on your own – there just isn’t enough time. If you need someone to show you how to do something, ask for help. It may also be helpful to employ a cleaner, so that you can spend more of your free time with your kids rather than doing chores around the house.
Technology can help
Now that you have to take care of everything yourself, turn to technology for assistance. There are many useful apps that will remind you of important appointments, such as taking your kids to a sports session or doctor’s appointment. You can also use apps for dealing with your finances.
You’ll need to think ahead so that you can deal with your children’s needs. Make sure that you carry the things they’ll need with you when you take them out. You will also need to prepare them for life changes like starting school.
Starting a new relationship
At some point, you might think about starting a new relationship. Dating as a single dad is different from when you were just a single guy, and you’ll want to find someone who understands that your kids come first in your life. That could be another single parent, or a woman without children who appreciates that you might have to cancel if the kids are sick or your sitter cancels. But there are women who can handle dating a single dad, so don’t give up hope. It’s wise though to give a little thought to what lessons you should learn from your past relationships and what you want from a new one.
Be proud of your single-dad status
You might be wary of telling potential dates that you’re a single dad, but the right one will be impressed by the fact that you’re caring for your kids alone. She won’t feel that she’ll have to compete for your time and attention. So don’t try to hide your status – be proud of it, and of your kids.
Get Dadvice Online
There are millions of single dads in the United States and likely, hundreds of millions around the world. Being a single father is NO new thing. There are plenty of online resources that offer help for single dads — parenting advice for dads, financial help for single dads, or simply places to share your own painful stories. ‘No man is an island’ so the phrase goes. Look for help online and you will find it. At the very least, you can find a community of other like-minded single dads to share and get advice from.