‘Single father': it is tough to think of two scarier words for a man. There are all kinds of heroes in the world. Fire fighters, police officers, soldiers, doctors: all are heroes. None are any more heroic than single dads. Unfortunately, they do not get the recognition they deserve.
There are responsibilities common to all parents. Being a single dad makes even the most common parenting tasks exponentially more difficult. Some parenting tasks are even tougher for single dads in this society than for single moms. But as difficult as they are, they still have to be done. Here are a few examples:
Take Care of Your Health
A single dad is the lifeline of the family. Parents often prioritize the health of their children over their own. But it is a little like the airline instruction concerning oxygen masks. Place your own mask in position before attempting to help someone else. You have to be healthy and conscious if you are going to have a chance to save anyone else. Saving yourself is not an option. It’s a necessity.
Because you are the lifeline of your family, you have to save yourself by doing all of the little things that you might leave undone if you had someone else to count on. Taking care of yourself includes everything from treating that suspicious cough before it turns into a full-blown flu, to using a skin tag remover. The difference between a skin tag and skin cancer is not immediately obvious. By doing what you can to deal with the little things while they are little, frees you up to take care of the kids.
Under the best of circumstances, dads are terrible when it comes to taking care of themselves. They eat poorly, exercise poorly, and develop a poor work/life balance. They tend to rely on others to remind them of their health. Single dads have to do a better job of taking care of their own health.
Ask for Help
If there is one thing men are notoriously bad at, it is asking for help when they need it. This is likely an evolutionary trait that was once extremely useful, but is now a detriment. It is not hard to imagine that a show of weakness in a tribal situation was bad for finding a good mate, and rising through the ranks of leadership.
But today, we recognize a show of vulnerability as a show of humanity. Not asking for help is viewed as a sign of arrogance, even foolishness. There is no shame in being a stay-at-home dad. Whether it be from parents, coworkers, or professional nannies, single dads need the same help as single moms. They just have to learn to ask for it.
Live a Simpler Life
There are two ways do deal with challenging life circumstances when resources are limited: The first choice is the most popular. Find a way to make more money. We are convinced that we can solve just about any problem with enough money. The second option is the road less traveled. Make a conscious decision to live a simpler life.
As a single dad, you always have the option to work more hours and hire someone to raise your kids for you. But in doing so, you miss seeing your kids grow, not to mention the opportunity to guide that growth. You will make enough money, but miss out on the reason you are working.
For context, it would help to see how people live in other parts of the world. They make less money, live in smaller homes, and still find a way to put family first. Making an intentional choice to live a simpler life is something that everyone should probably consider, especially single parents. It is doable, but the harder choice to make.
There is nothing easy about being a single dad. But you can relieve a lot of the pressure by taking better care of your health, asking for help when you need it, and choosing a simpler lifestyle. To all the single dads who are out there making the hard choices everyday, we salute you.