The Challenges of Being a Single Father
The challenges single fathers face can be slightly different than those of mothers. Society still holds on to many antiquated ideas regarding parenthood and who should be the primary caregiver. Of course, single fathers are just as capable of being nurturing, caring, and responsible as mothers.
To overcome these obstacles, a single dad needs to have a good attitude, a lot of planning, and a little help. Not every single dad experience is the same and not everyone overcomes the same challenges at the same speed– it’s all about doing the best you can and always putting your children’s well-being first in everything you do.
Balancing Home and Work
As a single parent, all the jobs fall on your shoulders. You have to be the good guy and the bad guy; the provider and the budgeter; and so on and so on. Balancing the workload as a single father is quite the feat, especially if you face a higher demand at your job.
In corporate America, parenting is still seen as the woman’s responsibility. This is evidenced by the lack of paternity leave in 49 out of 50 states. As a single father, you may find that your bosses still ask you to put in the extra hours and work you can’t afford. There isn’t someone else who can pick the kids up from school or make them dinner– you are the primary caregiver and you want to be there for them. If you find your job is not conducive to your parenting responsibilities, bring it up to a higher supervisor or your human resources department.
Keeping it Together
With everything you have to do for your family, don’t forget to take time to care for your mental health. 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. Not only is this important for your own well being, but your kids are watching your habits and how well you take care of your mental health. Kids learn how to behave from their parents… what are your kids learning from watching you?
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. For instance:
- Are you taking time to eat healthy, nutritious meals or are you falling back on the convenience of fast food and carry-out?
- Are you turning to alcohol to cope with stress at night? Do you have more than one drink?
- Have you taken time to spend quality time with your family other than doing necessary chores or errands? Are you showing your kids you enjoy spending time with them?
- Are you taking care of your body with exercise and sufficient sleep?
If you ask yourselves these questions and notice some unhealthy behaviors you turn to, there’s no time like the present to turn things around and make healthy choices for the good of your family and your own mental health.
Single parents face many obstacles as they take on dual roles. And while single dads don’t necessarily have it harder than mothers, there are specific challenges that relate to their sex. For instance, in corporate America men are expected to put in longer hours and more work in contrast to spending time with their family. A single dad that needs to be there for his kids has to work with his company to ensure he’s home in time for dinner. Single parents also face burnout as they have twice the responsibilities. Taking care of your mental health will not only keep your family running as a unit, but it will also teach your kids healthy coping mechanisms they will take with them throughout their lives.