Although titled mum2sons this essentially is a blog that encompasses all parenting, family and child matters. So when Daniel Sherwin of dadsolo.com approached me to write an article for mum2sons I was extremely honoured. Parenting is tough, add the challenges of being a single parent they deserve huge respect and our support.
The Challenges Single Fathers Face … and how to overcome them
Being a single parent is difficult, period. However, for single fathers, certain unique challenges exist. The antiquated ideas society stubbornly holds on to regarding child rearing and which gender should do what lead to prejudices and misconceptions. While some people assume fathers can’t be a caring or responsible as mothers, the truth is caring for our children rewires the male brain to be just as nurturing.
While other people’s assumptions regarding your abilities as a father are irritating, facing them is not the only challenge a single father faces.
- You may find unique challenges when it comes to balancing home and work. Most states do not require companies to provide paternity leave, and that attitude can permeate an entire business. In many work environments, men are expected to work longer hours and take less time off to spend with their family.
- If you have a daughter or daughters, you may find it more difficult to deal with them growing up… especially come puberty. This problem also exists on the adverse side with mothers and sons.
- It can be difficult to build an efficient support system. Men often hesitate to ask for help when they need it… but as a single father, you need it.
- People sometimes find it easier to accept the sight of a single mother and don’t pry too much into it. However, as a single father people are much more brazen to ask you what happened to the mother.
- It can also be the little things… Like when you have infants and need a changing station, there isn’t always one available in the men’s room. While the Obama era BABIES Act of 2016 requires diaper-changing facilities in male and female restrooms in public federal buildings, it doesn’t apply to privately owned buildings.
Mental Health for Single Fathers
When it comes to handling these challenges, it’s important to take care of yourself– especially your mental health. We often neglect our minds in favor of the much more tangible physical side of our health. However, the mind and body are intrinsically connected. If you don’t take care of one, both will suffer. For most people, taking care of mental health means coping with stress and learning healthy ways to handle it.
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.
- Try to figure out where your stress is coming from. Are you really frustrated at traffic or is there something bigger you need to deal with? Recognizing what is triggering your negative thoughts and feelings is the first step to dealing with stress.
- Figure out your favorite healthy coping mechanism for stress. For some people it’s exercise, for others it’s talking with a counselor. Avoid unhealthy methods such as drinking, bingeing, procrastinating, or taking it out on others in your life.
- Make time for yourself. This probably sounds impossible between juggling your career and family– but it’s vital. Eat well, drink water, exercise, and get enough sleep every day.
- Reach out for help when you need it. It can be scary to ask for assistance because it exposes your vulnerability. However, you’ll find that the people in your life are more than happy to help, and you’ll end up realizing you are less alone in this world than you initially thought.
Being a single dad is quite the endeavor. You have all the challenges of being a single parent plus dealing with society’s hangups regarding gender and parenthood. The best thing you can do to handle these obstacles is take care of yourself physically, but also mentally. Not only will you be better at dealing with the problems the world throws at you, but you’ll be serving a better example for your children to follow.
About Daniel Sherwin
Daniel is a single dad to his daughter (9) and son (6) for three years. Noticing there were not a lot of resources out there for single dads he shares some valuable tips and ideas in his blog. However there are pearls of wisdom on there for any parent, check out his self care advice for parents.