Being a single parent is hard, and while it’s not correct to say that being a single father is harder, it does come with its own unique set of challenges. Society sees single fathers as a bit more bizarre than single moms – statistically it’s just less common. There is a misconception out there among many people that fathers are not as inherently nurturing as a mother, and this misconception (however false) can even penetrate the single dad’s own mind, giving him self-doubt about his abilities as a parent. As the National Fatherhood Initiative puts it, it’s a “culture of shaming, bullying, crass images of masculinity, and dismal media portrayals of fathers [that] teaches us men that we’re just not going to be successful parents.”
As a single father, you must play all roles and there’s no backup. You’re everything – caretaker, nurturer, disciplinarian, shoulder to cry on, and role model. It’s tough but ultimately so rewarding. Here are some tips every single father should know.
It all starts with a stress-free home
As with most things, being a good single dad is all about setting yourself up for success, and the best way to do that is to make sure you are providing a stress-free home for your kids. A stress-free home is created through a combination of efforts, but you can get off to a good start by following these three guidelines:
A stress-free home is
- clean and organized;
- filled with healthy food; and
- full of constructive, education-based fun and games.
Check here for some more ways to optimize your home to be stress-free.
Focus on work flexibility
Many single dads have flexible jobs already, and that’s great. But for some, it’s rather difficult to get enough time off work to spend with the kids and they often fall short in creating that perfect work-life balance. The good news is that most employers are more flexible than you think, as long as you’re able to reciprocate their goodwill. For example, do you need to be done at 3-4pm on weekdays? Try to figure out a compromise where you come in a couple hours earlier. If your job can be done from home, discuss the option of telecommunication.
You don’t have to try to be mom
You’re a dad, and that’s special in its own right. It takes many single fathers a while to figure this out, but it’s the truth: you aren’t mom. You can’t be mom. You can provide all the love and support that kids deserve from multiple parents, but you can’t be everything. This is why it’s vital that you seek out support from female figures that can help.
“Look around and you’ll find there are female figures in your life that can fulfill the void left by the absence of a mom,” notes HowStuffWorks. This can be a grandmother, aunt, neighbor, friend, or even a stepmom – if that eventually occurs. If you find yourself struggling to fill the mom void, getting your kids involved in community activities can help. There are a ton of great role models within church organization, sports organizations, community-based projects, and non-profits.
In the end, the best thing you can do as a single father is to cut yourself some slack. Chances are, you’re doing a fine job no matter your shortcomings. Though you may feel alone in this journey, you need to know that you’re not – and it’s ok to seek out help. You love your kids and they love you, and that’s the best starting point you can hope for.
Photo in this article is from Pixabay.com