Being A Single Dad

By Katherine Elias

Child Custody Evaluator

Note: This is the first part of a two-part series on being a single dad. Click here to read part 2.

For a father, the most painful aspect of the end of a marriage (if it has been initiated by his wife) is the “loss of” the daily contact with the children. In most cases, especially when the children are very young, the mother will be awarded custody and the father becomes a parent that does not live with his children.

For men who were not involved in raising children during the marriage and saw them mostly on weekends, the situation after the divorce would not be so different. In fact, sometimes fathers are with their children more hours after a divorce than previously. It then becomes more important to invest in building or strengthening relationships and preserving the existing relationship with your children.

Today there is more equality between people, especially when both partners have careers. When parents separate, they may set a parenting order reflecting the partnership in parenting that existed during the marriage. That constitutes a form of joint custody.

Following the incidence of divorce in Western countries, many studies have focused on dealing with children of their parents’ divorce. One of the topics studied is the relationship of children with their father, who does not live with them permanently. Studies have shown that one of the factors that influence children’s coping with divorce is continuity in their relationship with their father. Children were better off when their father kept them in touch over time. Children were injured when their father disappeared from their lives, whether gradually or suddenly. It turns out that the quality of the relationship with the father and child is more important than frequency of contact. In other words, “more time” not necessarily “better relationship.” It is also important that the bond between a father and a child be stable and consistent.

Whether within marriage or after divorce, the father-child relationship is important to the child’s proper development as long as the relationship is positive (at least “reasonable”). In cases where the parent neglects or abuses a child physically or verbally, it is preferable that the connection will be limited, under the care of another person or not at all take place. On the other hand, a significant loss of contact with a parent who was close to the child during the marriage may hurt him. Results of studies show that boys suffer more than the lack of a father than girls.

Beyond general information about the importance of fathers in their children’s lives, additional studies give information that can guide divorced dads in trying to be good fathers. The findings relate to the different roles that fathers play and the importance of filling all those roles after divorce.

Both parents contribute to their children’s security. However, fathers often end up paying child support to mothers. And this is sometimes vital for the safety of children. Economic pressure following the divorce affects children directly; mothers that strain to “make ends meet” have less time and energy to devote to their children. But the father’s role does not begin and end by financially supporting their children. Continuity of income is important, but children need much more than that.

Note: This is the first part of a two-part series on being a single dad. Click here to read part 2.


Katherine Elias has been a licensed psychotherapist in private practice since 1998. She is recognized as a Child Custody Evaluator with specialties in Parental Alienation (PAS), Relocation, Adoption, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence, Termination of Parental Rights, establishment of Parenting Plans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Family Issues. She is a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychology Law Society and The American Counseling Association.

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One comment on “Being A Single Dad

    Sort of off the mark
    There is some useful information here on the bond of children and parents. Unfortunately, the courts usually break this bond and mothers tend to aid in breaking the child-father bond through the process.

    The financial aspect also works 2 ways. When a father was a stay at home father, working part-time so the mother could support a career, the same old standards are held. So now the mother has the children full-time and gets a large amount of money from a father who struggles day-day to make ends meet. this struggle goes to the point that it is difficult to even feed the children when they are home with him.

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