Fatherhood can be challenging enough, but being a single dad means things can get pretty complicated. You are trying to balance your career and meet your children’s needs, both financially and emotionally, and you probably didn’t expect to be doing it flying solo. Thankfully there are things you can do to meet these challenges and be successful.
Career challenges. Oftentimes workplaces are not geared toward providing flexibility to men when it comes to child rearing. If dads don’t have someone close to offset their childcare burden, managing both a career and raising kids can become overwhelming. Some single fathers may be fortunate enough to run their own businesses and find flexibility that way, but that can also mean being pulled into work during “off” hours. What’s more, even though single fathers are less apt to be impoverished than single mothers, some experts feel that court systems tend to favor mothers in how they are structured. As a result you may struggle in meeting all your career, parenting and financial responsibilities. Thankfully, NZ Single Parents points out there are a wide variety of resources available, from food assistance to raising children with disabilities. Whatever your circumstances, if you are unable to make ends meet or stretch your resources enough, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.
Cultural challenges. As a single dad you are probably well aware of the stereotypes associated with your role and how it compares with single moms. As pointed out by the New York Times, we tend to think of a single mom as a frenzied, stressed, attractive and underemployed woman with some adorable children for which she sacrifices her well-being to provide their meals and clothes. Those kids’ dad, on the other hand, we think of as a do-nothing deadbeat, perhaps with a criminal history or who ran off with another woman. While the unfortunate reality is these stereotypes do have some roots in reality, it’s clearly not the case for a great many dads. Millions of fathers raise their children solo, and do so appropriately and responsibly.
Support challenges. While there are whole industries geared toward helping single mothers, we don’t tend to see many support groups, parenting classes or self-help books on the subject of single fathers. Even if you are trying to engage with a support group, some experts say the opportunities are very limited and you may struggle finding a place to connect. However it’s important that you don’t become isolated. Being a part of a group can help you meet challenges and solve problems creatively, and sometimes allows you to share child care through cooperatives.
Emotional challenges. Being pulled in so many directions creates a lot of stress. It’s important for any single parent to engage in a good self-care program. Neglecting yourself will leave you with limited energy to raise children, and can erode your physical and mental wellbeing. Take care to get enough sleep, eat right and exercise so you have enough to offer yourself, your workplace, and especially your kids. As experts point out, "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."
Successful single dad. Clearly as a single father you face challenges in a variety of areas. You may struggle meeting all your responsibilities to your work and home life. However by engaging support and taking care of yourself, you can find success and fulfillment in fatherhood.