Being a single parent is certainly not an easy task for anyone. To succeed as a single dad, you need to seek more support, communicate more effectively with your children, set sound priorities and clear boundaries of behavior, and establish wholesome values. They have to be both mother and father to their children.
Many single fathers expressed a desire for the support that only a loving mate could provide. Their frank expressions also reveal that they have adapted well to their situation. What has helped these single dads to adapt and to succeed in their challenging role? This article gives many practical ways you can succeed as a single dad and also provides some key principles that have helped dads along the way.
1. Seek out support
According to one father who has two boys, his greatest challenges are tiredness and a continuous lack of time.” His situation is the norm for single fathers. Some single dads have built a support network—a group of like-minded individuals on whom they can call for help without embarrassment. You may find it helpful to talk to them since they are also in a similar situation.
Other avenues you can look for support are from trusted relatives and friends. They could render assistance in child care, transportation, emotional support, or even home maintenance. Also, you can see what aid is available through governmental and non-governmental agencies.
It’s not always easy to seek help, but it will help you think clearly, tackle difficulties, and ultimately your children will really benefit from any support you get.
2. Set sound priorities
Carl, a dad who lost his wife to cancer in Germany, said he was always tired, thinking about balancing his job, child-rearing, doing household chores, and rest. The greatest challenge, according to Carl, was providing everything—physically, mentally, and emotionally, without the help of a marriage mate.
If you find yourself in Carl’s shoes, the best thing to do is learn to manage your time and finances accordingly. Stick to your priorities. Always remember that your children’s health is very important. Endeavor to provide nutritious food because it’s better than spending so much on medical bills.
Try as much as possible to focus on needs, not wants. Before going out shopping, have a shopping list in hand, write the most important things you need and avoid wasteful impulse buying—a spontaneous decision before purchasing something.
If you can’t cook, then learn how to prepare meals for yourself and your children. That will ensure you and your kids eat fresh and wholesome meals. And will also help you feel healthier, boost your energy, stabilize your mood, and improve your resilience to stress.
3. Set clear boundaries of behavior
Raising children alone is difficult, particularly when they reach the teenage years. At this age, they will start to feel the world’s influence to rebel against their parents.
In a situation like this, do not let your feelings which were by no means bad, cause you to be a permissive parent or override your good judgment. Sometimes, feelings of guilt over your situation will make you let your children do whatever they want and have their way. An Australian study revealed that when parents constantly give in to their children, the children often misbehave.
Show consistency, fairness, and reasonableness when dealing with your children. When they commit an offense, first listen to what they have to say and explain calmly how their disobedience affects the family before carrying out discipline. And when you dish out discipline, make sure it is not done out of anger. Also, you need to be flexible depending on the circumstances to succeed as a single dad.
4. Establish wholesome values
Peer pressure at school could exert a powerful influence on children. To resist this negative influence, your children need wholesome values. Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to become responsible, well-mannered adults.
Children are born imitators. They learn how to be responsible adults by observing what other responsible adults do, especially their parents. They draw conclusions about what you take very important as a parent.
Suppose you talk about honesty but ask them to lie that you’re not home when someone you do not want to see comes visiting. Doing this will put your children in an uncomfortable position, and they will feel that lying is okay in certain circumstances. As a single parent, much depend on what kind of role model you provide for your children.
Build a moral vocabulary by pointing to everyday situations and highlight differences. Tell them what is honest and what is not, what is loyal and what isn’t, what is kind and what is unkind. In this way, your kids will be able to connect moral values with actions.
Also, clarify the reasons for your moral code by appealing to their developing conscience and sense of logic. Discuss why certain things are wrong and why they should avoid them. Highlight the benefits of adhering to wholesome values and good morals.
You could say, for example, If you are honest, people will rely on you and trust you, and if you are kind, you will feel good, and others will like being around you.
5. Communicate more effectively.
To succeed as a single dad, you need to establish an environment of open communication with your children. Try to be a model listener and set an example by always being available for them whenever they want to talk. Encourage them to communicate with one another.
Teach them to forgive one another and should never go to bed angry with their brother or sister. If they see that you do not tolerate the silent treatment, they will do their best to always relate well with one another.
Also, when you’re not too quick to offer advice and speak calmly with them when dealing with upsetting issues, they will be more than willing to open up to you and share with you even their deepest secrets.
Children need love from their parents as much as they need food and drink. So regularly show them love and reassure them that you will always be there for them. In so doing, They will make them feel more secure and more willing to communicate with you and obey you.
6. Buy out time
No matter how coordinated or organized you are, time is difficult to track. To make good use of your time, you need to identify areas you’re spending time. Then you will be able to decide which pursuits are most important to you.
If possible, keep a record of everything you do throughout the week, and see how much of your time each of them takes. After that, you should check where time could be saved, or even used better, by not doing certain things and also making some necessary adjustments. (1)
If you are a single parent, we hope that this article will help you succeed in your demanding role and do so with joy and contentment. To be sure, that can be a big challenge in today’s rapidly changing and uncertain world.
If you’re reading this and you know a single dad working hard to care for his children, why not commend him for his efforts and every now and then offer to help when you can, like babysitting or assist him in taking them to school.