Being a father can be an overwhelming challenge, especially if you are flying solo. It’s a struggle more men are facing, and with the right tools you can be a successful dad with happy and healthy kids.
You’re not alone. More households than ever are led by single fathers. According to studies cited by ABC News, the number of single father homes in America rose by 62 percent in a single decade, with numbers totaling over 2.2 million. It’s believed that the rise signals acceptance of men’s ability to function successfully as single parents, and the number is only expected to continue to grow.
Challenges. Single dads struggle in many of the same areas single mothers do, with financial strains and finding balance between work and home life. Unfortunately, single fathers often don’t feel they can reach out for help, fearing loss of custody. There are things you can do to face your challenges head on and work toward overcoming them, beginning with asking family and friends for help when you need it. Get involved with local or online support groups, too – you’ll find there is benefit in shared struggles, and sometimes you may glean tips or assistance when you need help with your many obligations.
Coping skills. Being a single parent can be extremely stressful, but with good coping skills you can manage your concerns and overcome the obstacles in your path. As explained by the experts at Behavioral Wellness & Recovery, “It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.” Some simple skills you can incorporate into your lifestyle are:
- Reading a book. Take a book with you wherever you go, and when life is feeling complicated enjoy an “escape” into the pages.
- Strolling outside. Nature has a positive, healing effect on your well-being; a walk in the park or even around the block to enjoy some green space, fresh air and sunshine can work wonders for your stress level.
- Petting animals. Engaging with pets offers terrific benefits, like lowering your blood pressure and improving self-esteem. If you don’t have a companion animal of your own, consider volunteering at a local shelter.
Finances. Experts note that one of the most important issues you face as a single dad is budgeting your money. Understanding your income and financial obligations, planning how you will meet them, and arranging your spending habits to accommodate your needs will give you a sense of security and control. If you need to go back to school, do so. Studies reflect that improving your level of education directly and positively impacts both your parenting style and communication, not to mention the potential for improving your work situation and income.
Enjoy yourself and your children. Establish a daily routine in your household and make sure fun is part of it. It’s healthy for you and your children to engage every day, talking and doing activities together. Having a routine schedule gives your family security, and it’s better for everyone to know what expectations are. Don’t think that because you’re a dad you can’t be close with your children; experts at Livestrong note that studies found the opposite: “…the relationship between a single parent and a child can be one that is close and affectionate. A child in a single-parent home often sees the parent in a new light, and a single parent may be more likely to focus love and affection on a child when no spouse is involved. The parent and child are mutually dependent on each other, and in many cases this leads to a relationship that is more supportive and communicative.”
Life as a single dad is challenging, but you aren’t alone in your struggle. Reach out for help, use good coping skills, take control of your finances, and enjoy your children. With these terrific tools you can achieve success as a single dad!
About the Author
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.