The number of single fathers in the United States is 1.96 million, according to the United States Census Bureau. Single fathers now represent 16 percent of all single parents, and the number is rising.
As more fathers take on the role of a single parent, they’re discovering that they face the same challenges as mothers do when raising their children alone.
As a single father, everything changes: goals, values, opinions about the opposite sex, and sometimes, even your job.
You will have moments when you stumble, and there will be moments when you shine. As you gain footing, experience, and priceless memories as a single father, you will stumble less and shine more.
But, when it’s all still so new, what can you do to ensure that you’re on the right path?
Here are some tips on how to make being a single dad a little less stressful so you can focus on what’s important – your children and yourself.
This goes for both you and your ex-wife. As long as violence, drugs, or other egregious behavior isn’t part of the divorce, then it’s critical that both partners work toward developing and maintaining healthy communication with one another.
Healthy communication, which includes establishing boundaries, works to help reduce stress in the children because they see their parents cooperating. Mediation can help in that regard.
Seek out friends, family, clergy, and professional counselors. We all need a soft place to land on our toughest days – even dads.
If you need help, but would feel more comfortable speaking with other single dads, there are a multitude of support groups and resources available online.
Keep A Routine
Children need structure, and it’s even more important after an emotionally significant experience, such as divorce.
When you establish rules and a routine regarding such things as meals, bedtime, homework, and behavior, your children will know what to expect and what is expected of them. Stick with it to ensure consistency and your household will be that much more peaceful.
Keep An Eye Out For Change In Behavior
There’s no doubt that during these difficult times and through all the turmoil, you may overlook things you wouldn’t have before.
Perhaps your child is acting up or has a change in attitude altogether. This could be a sign of their confusion about what’s going on, but it could also be a sign of emotional child neglect at a daycare facility.
As mentioned earlier, communication is an important skill to have in general, but it’s imperative in times like these. As your child’s father, you should keep the lines of communication open for them to let you know how they’re feeling about all aspects of life.
Keep your eyes and ears open, and allow them to tell you their thoughts and perhaps you may gain insight into whether there are third party influences to blame for your child’s behavior.
Treat Them Like Kids
Many single parents fall into the trap of being too lenient with their children post-divorce because they feel guilty.
Unfortunately, when you treat your children like equals and/or don’t consistently impose boundaries, you are doing yourself and them a disservice. They will come to expect more and more leniency, and that could become a point of contention between you.
Let your children mature at a pace respective to their age, and resist treating them like adult friends.
They need guidance, reassurance and boundaries to help them navigate through the feelings of divorce, not to mention the natural turmoil of childhood.
The job of a single parent is stressful, particularly right after the divorce or loss of the other parent. For single fathers, it’s no different.
By focusing on proper communication with your ex and your children, as well as taking care of your own mental and emotional health, you will be the quality role model your children need, and you will excel as a single dad.