“I knew going in that being a single parent would be one of the toughest jobs I’d ever have. I’d been a talk-show host, actor, comic, and on and on, but this gig was going to be my defining moment.” Arsenio Hall
Each of our lives is made up of a series of defining moments. Moments that force us to look at who we are at our deepest levels. Characterized by change, they are a time when we realize that what we are about to do will ultimately determine our success or our failure.
Single parenting is such a moment. Fraught with challenges, single parenting can definitely throw you some curveballs. But for every problem, there is a solution.
Let’s look at some ways single fathers can be successful.
Problem: There’s no one to hand off to.
Solution: Having your child 24/7 without anyone to share the responsibilities will be cause for anxious moments, so be sure to build a support group of family and friends who have your back. Rely on them to run a carpool or babysit for an evening so you can take care of pressing needs or recharge the batteries. When in doubt, ask your child’s pediatrician for additional resources.
Problem: A single income.
Solution: If you weren’t budgeting before, you’ll likely need to create a budget to help manage your finances. If your income won’t cover your family’s expenses, there are several resources for financial assistance.
Problem: Your kids aren’t listening.
Solution: Now is a critical time to communicate with your ex-partner, if possible, and make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to discipline. If your ex is handling discipline issues one way and you another, you’re bound for trouble. Instead, make time to sit down and talk with your ex to create a discipline plan. This will ensure you’re both being consistent with strategy. Also, consider reading a good book on the finer points of disciplining.
Problem: You’re so overwhelmed that you seek unhealthy, quick fixes.
Solution: “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. 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,” according to Drugrehab.org.
Problem: Not making time for yourself.
Solution: If you aren’t properly taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your children. Now’s the time to call up that support group and get to enjoying your favorite pastime. You’ll also want to focus on some physical fitness. Exercise can boost your energy, giving you more fuel for parenting. Consider joining your local YMCA. They usually offer a variety of physical fitness equipment and exercise programs, and they provide free childcare. Financial assistance is also available.
Problem: Your kids aren’t talking.
Solution: According a Brigham Young University study, one of the best ways for be a successful single parent is to keep the line of communications open. By encouraging freedom of expression you’ll be fostering honest and trusting relationships. It’s important to do this independently so each child can feel heard and supported.
Problem: There’s no role model for the opposite gender.
Solution: It’s true that children need good role models, both male and female. Look for family members or friends who fit the bill. If you’re unable to find one who can spend consistent, quality time with your child, contact an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Problem: Your routine is out the window.
Solution: To be successful you’ll need to manage your family’s needs in an organized and dependable fashion. Start by creating a schedule you can live by. Plan for meals, school work, quality family time, and bedtime, and keep it consistent. Children with routines feel more secure.
This is your defining moment. Your children are depending on you, and it’s time to show them you can be a successful single parent. Not only will you be teaching them fortitude and determination, but you’ll also be modeling for them how they can be a great parent. Teach them well.
Daniel is the founder of dadsolo.com – a website for single parents.