Today I want to offer a few words of encouragement to single dads who have custody of their kids. In many ways, these dads can learn valuable lessons from the many single moms who have blazed the trail before them.
Let’s look at a few of the challenges for you dads who are courageously raising your children alone.
First, make sure you have a good support system in place. Take care of your own physical and emotional health so you’re ready for the demands of day-to-day single parenting. Even though you aren’t married, you’re still part of a parenting team working for the benefit of your children. The feeling of being alone as a parent can be staggering, and you need others you can rely on to assist you.
Dads especially, more than single moms, seem to hesitate to seek out other guys. But it’s comforting to realize that there are other dads out there going through the same adjustments and feelings. It really does help to bounce ideas off another parent with whom you can have something in common. That other dad can help you ward off feelings of inadequacy. Look to your church, your kids’ school, or other established groups for support.
Also, don’t hesitate to take advantage of your friends and family when they offer to help. You do need to get away and have adult conversations every now and then.
The second issue that really challenges single custodial fathers is discipline. You really start to miss having someone on your side when you’re in the middle of a battle. Many single parents feel so guilty after putting the kids through a divorce that they try to avoid being at odds with their children even for a few minutes. They may overindulge their kids or hesitate to discipline at all.
Establish rules and standards that you and your child’s mother have agreed on, and then do your best to enforce those boundaries consistently. A child’s unhappiness will quickly fade, but the values you teach through discipline will last for many years.
As a single dad, your situation may not be ideal, but your kids can still thrive and succeed.