Men are seldom seen as good single parents. Most times when a choice has to be made between mother and father, the child is given to the mother. Many would want to know, how can a single father be successful?
In most cases it appears to be a hopeless venture. After all, there is so much going against the male as a single parent, chief of which is the need for him to be gainfully employed.
In spite of this, there have been successful single fathers even though their numbers are few as compared to single mothers.
So let us explore seven things that a single father can do to ensure that he is successful at bringing up his children alone.
Accept the responsibility
If you had never though about being the primary care giver to your children, then facing the prospect can be very challenging. Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. All of the “what ifs?” suddenly begin to surface along with the added doubts introduced by family and friends.
But in the end, the final decision is yours and only yours. So you have to put on your thinking cap and consider the situation before you. Speak with others, if at all possible, with those who have had to make a similar decision. Take into account your abilities and your relationship with your child and or children. Keep in mind always that the final say is yours.
Also, that the children are yours and from the time they were conceived, you had a responsibility to them. Of course the absence of their mother would be a challenge to you, but you are a man. Men face their responsibilities and do not run away from them. He finds ways to solve them.
So I encourage you to face and take on that responsibility. Your child/children will be grateful that you did, as opposed to thinking that you abandoned them to someone else. Even if it’s their grandparents or an aunt or your sister. Children like to know that they are important to their parents.
Let me add here, that grandparents most times do their best, but to your children, they can never be parents. Most grandparents, unintentionally, spoil their grand children. The things that you could not get away with as a child, you will be surprised to see them overlook with your child.
I recall that after my separation from my first wife, I visited one night and the visit turned sour. She and I ended up in a heated argument. During the time, I noticed by eldest son standing at the door. I paid no attention to him at the time. A few minutes later things calmed down and I walked out to the porch.
As I did so, I noticed my son walking up the steps of my parents home with a broom stick in his hands. I followed him and asked him what he had intended to do with the broom stick. He just stared at me with anger in his eyes. I told him to go get the stick and come do what he had intended to with it. He just stared at me.
My mother witnessed the encounter and intervened, telling me to “leave the child alone”. The thing is, that if I had done the same thing with her when I was growing up, she would have taken the same approach that I took. As a matter of fact, I acted as I did because I recalled her approach. I reminded her of that.
She still insisted that I leave him alone. I obeyed, its always good to obey your mother – unless she is absolutely wrong.
So keep this in mind too. But most of all, remember that these are your children, your responsibility.
Once you accept they are your responsibility, then you will begin to focus on how to behave responsibly toward them. Know that they will be calling on you for things that they would usually go to their mother with. If you make yourself available for this, it will help bring them even closer to you and it is possible that the day would come when you will have no regrets for taking on the challenge.
And they will be grateful. So be willing to put your all into the role.
Be the model
Accepting the responsibility means that you would be expected to teach your children and prepare them for life. This can be challenging but also rewarding. I speak from experience.
I have learned that children learn more for observing parental behavior than from what their parents tell them to do or not do. So if you lie, then do not expect them to be truthful. If you use obscene language to and in front of them, then the day will come, without fail, when they will cuss you out.
So here are some things that you will need to model as you work towards becoming a successful single father:
- A healthy lifestyle. You don’t want to be running to the doctor with your child constantly. The old saying goes: “prevention is better than cure”. Eat and drink healthy and you will spend less time at the doctor’s office. You’ll save a lot of money too. So do some research and find the healthful meals that would help in your children’s growth and development. Feed them that and you eat it too.
- A good education. If they see you interested in improving yourself, they will want to too. Be Always willing to learn something new and at times, depending on what it is, teach it to them.
- Respect for others. When you show respect to others, your children learn to do the same. Of course at first you may have to tell what it means to be respectful. However, when you add practice to your words, it is much more effective.
- Self control. It is easy to get angry and to just let every thing go when you are angry. Afterward, most times we regret things we say and do. Some apologize, others don’t. When we learn to control our emotions, we would seldom have to say sorry. We also keep out of trouble.
- Good financial practices. Now I admit that most of us – myself included, have learned about money along the way. That means that we see it as a means of getting what we want immediately. This is not always the best method, so at times we would need to do some research on proper financial management or allow someone to teach
- Love for others. Showing love for others, beginning at home, will teach your children to love you and others too. The result will be a home where you, them and others would enjoy being. Of itself, this will be a strong barrier from them going out to the streets for love.
- True love comes from God. So in order to love others we need to know and experience the love of God. Read more on this here. So let them see you loving and obeying God.
Ask for help
Even as you model life’s beneficial behaviors, you will realize that there are things that you need to teach your children that others are more skilled in than you. Here is where your humility will be demonstrated.
You will, at times, need to ask for help. Do not be afraid or ashamed to do so. But be careful in who you turn to for help especially if those persons would have to deal directly with your children.
As a dad with daughters, even if you put in the effort to know and understand female bodily and emotional issues, there are some things that a daughter would find it easier to discuss with a woman. It may be your mom, sister, sister-in-law, aunt or a friend. Reach out and let the teaching take place. They will love and respect you for it.
This does not mean that you should not educate yourself on female issues. It would also be wise if you sit with a trusted female and question them about some developmental issues that your daughter will have to face. Especially the emotional issues and when they usually show up.
From experience, this will help you to more wisely relate to your daughter and guide her through those episodes without harming your relationship.
This can hold for any other situation that may arise in the home, even with your boys. At times, as fathers, we can get so caught up in providing for the home, that we fail to notice the changes in our sons. This in itself can bring conflict especially if we fail to recognize their maturity and continue to treat them as little boys.
So as a father – and this includes the ones who have their wives – we have to be observant of our children and deal with them wisely.
Children play. They also enjoy it a lot when their parents take time to play with them.
My mom taking time to play with us in spite of her heavy work load as a house wife and supporter of my dad, is an enduring memory for me.
My dad, pausing from preparing the pail of ice cream to send down a few balls at us as we played cricket, will never be forgotten.
As we matured and the need to care/provide for us eased upon him, it was also a bonding experience when he took the day off and went to look at a game of cricket with us.
While for the adult, the maximum of our time is spent at work, it is still important to take time off, regularly, to play with our children. This involves getting enveloped in their games, not so much yours. While you need to play the games you like – for all the great reasons – playing your children’s games with them.
So if your son loves football, soccer, cricket, baseball, table tennis – to name a few, get down and play with him. You will make him a happy child, especially if you do so in front of his friends. The same holds for your daughter.
And remember to attend their games as well. Show them that they have priority in your life and if you do have to disappoint them, take time to explain to them why it was necessary. They will know that they still are priority but also understand that in the adult world, sometimes you would have to make a judgment call that would not always favor them.
Remember their birthdays and celebrate it with them. If you cannot afford to throw a party, or take them out, that’s OK but make sure that the day does not go unnoticed.
This is one thing that I can’t recall my father doing. I can’t say that it negatively affected me, but modern children have been taught differently, so remember.
Show them that all their recreational activities are of interest to you. Get involved so you can also guide them and teach them fair-play. Another advantage is that you will get to know their friends and guide them to make good choices as to who to be close to.
There comes a time in your children’s life when you have to be real with them. Being real in this sense means to let them know that your life was not, is not, always perfect.
You may think that doing so will remove you from the pedestal upon which they have you – and according to the story, it may – but they will also love and respect you for it. Know too, that there is the possibility that they may use it later in life to throw back at you when they make a mistake.
I recall a friend of mine telling her daughter that at 19 she was not ready for marriage. She had however gotten married around the age of 18. Her daughter reminded her about that. She relented and reluctantly gave in to the marriage. Thank God that approximately 15 years later, they are still going strong.
You may make a promise to your child/children and be unable to keep that promise, please let them know and again, explain why. The worse thing would be to break the promise and not give an explanation. Believe me, they will not forget. They may forgive you, but forget, no.
Personally, I did my best not to make a promise to my children if there was a possibility that I would not be able to fulfill it. If I did promise, then I would go out of my way to keep it.
So if you have to admit wrong, do it with humility, but let them know that it was still wrong and that you did not want them to repeat your mistake.
If you decide to bring another lady into their lives, discuss it with them. Consider their position. You may have to reason with them to accept this new person. Be patient and do your best not to foist the person upon them. Give them time to adjust to all the changes that will take place in their lives if you go through with having another wife.
This is the best source of help that I can refer you to. When all others fail, God’s help will not. His presence in your life will take you through the roughest, toughest time in your life. When all human support fails – and there are times when they will – you will know and feel His presence in your life.
So take time daily to connect with Him. Do so in prayer. Read His love letters to you – the Bible, and when you experience His blessings, goodness and deliverance, tell others about it.
I assure you that if you practice this, you will see your children follow in your steps. Your home will have a sweet atmosphere like nowhere else. Sorting out misunderstandings will be so much easier and with less animosity.
You will make wise and wiser decisions and your children will love and respect you for it.
Genuine love can help you face and come through any and every family situation. When all else seems hopeless, that love you have for your children and the love they have for you will prove the strongest bond in all of your lives.
Let it be seen and felt. Teach them to show it to each other. Instill in them, family first, willing and wholehearted forgiveness. The latter makes for a peaceful, harmonious home.
With determination and effort, a single father can be as successful as a single mother. Not that it is a competition but for each dad that successfully brings up his children, it would make it easier for other devoted dads to so the same.
They will also be trusted to do the same.
Applying the seven clues above would go a long way to ensuring that you succeed at this most challenging of jobs, and yet it’s not a job.
Please share your thoughts with me and my other reader in the comments box down below.