7 Ways to Be a Great Single Dad
Unfortunately, I have been a single Dad for just about two years now.
It was never something I imagined, nor wanted.
I grew up in a small town in Michigan with my sister, Mom & Dad, who have been married for 40 years.
There were four of us, and we just so happened to grow up in a house with a white picket fence.
Now, I do not buy into going to college, getting married, buying a home (the American Dream, right?) having kids, working a job (you despise) for 40 years, retire, and enjoy the "glory years".
I used to think that way, until I realized that was a line of bullshit sold to us by society.
However, the one part of that dream that I had every intention of living was this: Raising a family together, with both Dad & Mom in the home. I am a big believer in that, and the statistics on fatherless homes are startling.
Now, my ex and I split the kids 50/50. She picks them up from my house on Saturday afternoon and I pick them up either Tuesday or Wednesday, we alternate each week, so it's truly a 50/50 split.
This is not ideal, as I dread Saturday afternoons.
I hate not tucking them in on Sunday night before the school week starts.
I hate not helping Ava (Ashton is only 4) with her homework every night.
I really miss having a sit down dinner with them every night.
Enough of my bitching, I know I have to make the best of it, and I do my best with them.
Being a single Dad is not something that is talked about enough.
We have heard a lot about being a single Moms, but being a single Dad does not get enough attention. The truth is, there are plenty of us single Dads out there struggling to raise our children on our own.
In this blog post, I am going to share 7 tips on hot to be a good single Dad so that your children grow up with happy and fulfilled memories.
Building a Support Team Will Help
It can get insanely lonely being a single dad.
When it’s just you, you
may will start to feel overwhelmed, isolated, worthless, ashamed, embarrassed....ok, I think you get the point.
You don’t want to feel like this and you don’t want your child to grow seeing this, as they learn so much from watching.
That is why it’s a good idea to build a support team. By surrounding you and your children with family, friends, and other parents, you are providing all involved with company and assistance. Surround yourself/child (ren) with love and acceptance, which is how to be a good single Dad.
Fortunately, my parents moved out here last fall. This has been insanely helpful as they get to see the kids more often. The kids OFTEN, "Can we go to grandmas"?
My parents pick up the kids every Wednesday to help them with school work, take them to Wendy's for Frosty's and hit the thrift shops & Dollar Store.
The kids are OBSESSED with the Dollar Store.
Whatever brings them joy ?
I also attend a men's group at my church every Monday evening.
It's a group of men who share their life struggles with each other. Last night, I mentioned to the gentlemen in the group that's it's kind of weird being so open and honest with a group of strangers. For some reason, it makes ti a whole lot easier. I have shared things with these en that I have not shared with good friends or family.
I started attending these meetings just over a year ago, and it's transformed my life.
It was these meetings, that inspired me to quit drinking last April. Something I wanted to do for years, but never had the balls to pull it off.
I am days away from being 10 months sober, and it's all thanks to the men in that evening group I attend.
It still is absolutely mind-blowing to be that I pulled it off.
That is another blog post, for another day.
Make Your Presence Count
When you are a single Dad, you're making money in order to provide for your kids.
It's not easy coming home from a long day of work; cooking dinner, doing homework, spending time with them and reading them a bedtime story. However, your kids remembers their Dad being there for them and they certainly remember broken promises and an absent father.
If your child has a sports game or a parent-teacher night, make sure you attend these milestones. It will mean so much to your child and provide the blueprint for happy memories when they grow older.
Make the time.
Make the time.
Make the time.
When the kids are at my house, we do family dinner at the table. TVs are off. I leave my phone in the kitchen. This is my time to ask how their day went, what they did/learned at school, what they ate for lunch, if they had fun, etc.
Don't believe that family dinners are insanely important?
Here are 6 scientific reasons why they are more important than you think.
Growing up, my Mom cooked us dinner just about every night. The four of us ate dinner at the table.
Memories I'll cherish for the rest of my life.
I feel obligated to give Ava & Ashton those same memories.
You Can’t Always Be Their Friend
Single parents believe that they are making childhood easier by never disciplining their kid.
The truth is that you are still their Dad and kids need structure, rules and discipline. You are the Dad and you need to create a safe and secure environment. This is done by putting your foot down and disciplining when needed. The last thing you want to do is raise entitled little brats. Our society has far too many of them nowadays.
You shouldn’t be afraid to be firm with your child, even as a single Dad.
This is not something I really struggle with, but know it's a big issue. I feel it's more of an issue with the Moms.
Now, I am not implying that I run the house like Hitler, but we have rules around here and the kids do a pretty good job of following them.
Have a Support Group of Your Own
If you lost your partner due to an illness, it may be hard to deal with the emotions that are inside of you.
Which, by the way, is COMPLETELY NORMAL!
You need time to grieve.
You need time.
You also need someone to talk to, as that is a life altering experience.
I know, as a man, we tend to be so damn prideful and we let our ego get the best of us far too often.
However, when you have a child, you may feel more inclined to keep those feelings inside of you for the sake of your child. Suppressing your feelings is typically a recipe for disaster as it often leads to undue stress & anxiety, or worse, drugs & alcohol.
The truth is, you are mourning as well and the mourning process is good. Make sure you surround yourself with family and friends that you can confine in. Find a men's group like I go to. Like I said above, talking to strangers seems to be easier, as I feel wee don't have that fear of judgement. Or not as much. Not only is it incredibly helpful, it's good for the soul.
If not, considering talking with a professional so that you are giving yourself a healthy outlet for what you are feeling.
I proudly go to therapy once a month.
I have a friend who was surprised that I was going, but was shocked that I would actually admit it. He asked me some questions about it, and I told him how valuable/helpful it was for me.
A few days later, he texted me for my therapist's phone number.
Weird how that works.
Do Not Speak Ill Of Your Ex
If you're a single Dad, and not happy with your ex, please do not express your anger to your kid (s).
Even if the divorce/separation was nasty/difficult/her fault/etc, you do not talk about this in front of your kid (s).
By the way, it's never just her fault. In fact, when my ex and I broke up, I took 100% responsibility for it, and admitted it to her.
When you take 100% responsibility for ANYTHING going on in your life, you're in complete control. It's not easy, but such a powerful mindset shift. I would recommend you looking at life like this from here on out.
It'll radically transform your life. I wish I did it 15 years ago.
Your kids are going through enough with the separation, the last thing they need to hear is negativity from you. Be the bigger person, and keep those thoughts to yourself.
Your kids deserve it.
Your children still love their Mom and it's not right to talk poorly about her in front of your kids.
Save any sort of negative feelings you have for when your child is not around.
Also, make sure your parents and/or other family members don't speak negatively about their Mom either.
Work-Life Balance Makes For a Good Single Dad
As I mentioned earlier, your children are going to remember you being there during all of the good times.
It’s important to spend time with your children. So, find a job that provides great work-life balance. You don’t want to be somewhere that requires you to work over time or on weekends, which are the prime days to spend time with your child.
Better yet..start a side hustle, here is a video of 5 sides hustles for Dads I recently published on YouTube.
This will allow you plenty of time with your kids.
Providing Love Doesn’t Mean Spending Money
When you become a single Dad, it’s easier to want to “buy your child’s love”.
But, that is not how you become a good single Dad. Do not try to buy your child’s affection/love.
Remember, children spell LOVE like this: T-I-M-E.
The kids and I go to the park every Saturday morning. We typically stop at the gas station to grab Slurpees and donuts beforehand (breakfast of champions). We then have breakfast at the park.
After the park, we go to Walmart to shop for groceries. This is what we do on Saturday, and the three of us enjoy it.
We do dinners every night, and I do my absolute best with reading them a bedtime story.
In the spring/fall, we take a bike ride around the neighborhood. I run, they ride, but it's an absolute blast.
Wrapping It Up
While being a single Dad isn’t something you planned for, you don’t need to be nervous.
You're always going to be a Dad. Whether you were raising this child with someone or by yourself, you're still a Dad. The seven points made in this article are all to help you create a safe environment and provide your child with the love that they need.