Being a single parent is never easy. Being a single father is very uncommon in today’s world, and there aren’t’ many support groups out there offering tips for success. Having navigated through this position for several years, I’m sharing what I’ve learned from my ups and downs in hopes of helping someone out there who may be struggling to succeed at being a Dad and maintaining some semblance of a work and personal life.
Single Dads raised many highly successful individuals. Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Fonda, and Madonna, to name a few. At the tender ages of 14, Paul McCartney was raised by his Father. While it may seem like a disadvantage for a child to be raised by one parent, you need to go out of your way to make sure the child doesn’t ever feel that is the case.
Working Around Your Work Schedule
Starting with employment, this is perhaps the most difficult item to balance for most men. Communication is key if you work for someone, as it’s important you are able to not only bring your child to and from school when needed, but also attend as many activities as possible and be a constant in your child’s life. Work with your employer to find a schedule that allows you to arrive early, leave late, and even work remotely when necessary. As long as your production doesn’t suffer, most employers will respect the fact that you are a highly involved, caring Father.
Create a Support Team
Another item I found important was building a support team around me in case I needed help. Early on, my brother was very helpful and supportive of the situation and became highly immersed in my child’s life. He would watch him when I had to travel, as well as offer to babysit on the night’s I had commitments. A support team should include trusted individuals who love your child and who can be dependable when needed. Finding sufficient car pool options for any activities will also lessen your burden of having a hectic schedule.
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Schedule Quality Time
While making quality time happen may sound impossible, the best way to ensure you have one on one time with your child is to simply set a schedule and stick to it. My son plays soccer at different times every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night. This makes eating together nearly impossible. To ensure we have time to catch up each week, we eat dinner at a restaurant of his choice every Tuesday. Keeping this as an important night just for us, I don’t make personal plans, schedule meetings, or have anything else interfere with our Tuesday evening dinner plans.
Let Your Child Make Choices
Weekends are supposed to be our down time, in most professions. Personally, when I have time to unwind, I like to spend time at the beach, watch sports with friends, play golf, exercise, and just keep my schedule open in case anything exciting happens to pop up that I want to take part in.
While those are all examples of my ideal weekend, I’m a realist. I know my son has wants, desires, and things he just has on his mind. For this reason, one day every weekend I allow him to choose whatever he wants to do, no matter how much I may end up regretting that decision. Children have the desire to explore, so let them explore and learn. Sometimes this takes us to places that have bounce houses, where I sit on my phone for hours while he plays with others. Other times it takes us to the mini golf course, and on others it’s as simple as going for a bike ride. Giving your child the power to choose what they want to do makes them feel special. Allowing them to live their lives while you take a back seat for a few hours shows them that you truly do care.
While these are just general parameters for being a successful single Dad, they will allow you to build a foundation that will help you keep on track to ensure that you and your child are on a path to long term success and happiness.