Hello y’all. Single dad here. And yes, we do have challenges. We do have stressors. And although we can often wear our Superman anti-fear cape, there are things that scare us.
I have a 13-year old daughter and I absolutely fear that while she will always love me, there will come a time when I get the following text:
Sydney: Daddy, I love you.
Me: I love you too, babe. How are you?
Sydney: I’m good. Am I with you this weekend?
Me: Yes. Have you thought about what you wanted to do? Movie? Dave and Busters?
Sydney: Oh. Chloe is coming this weekend and she doesn’t come that much. Is there any way we can switch weekends?
“Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame…” These are the words I will sing to myself while thinking about her when this happens. Oh yay, it already has. On a couple of occasions actually. And my daughter and I are incredibly close and open and pragmatic with each other about a litany of things. But I don’t like it. I know moms that go through this very thing. Which begs the question: What else do single dads go through that single moms go through, too?
Protective Much: Yes, please! You’re going out with who? And you’ll be back when? And you’ll be chaperoned by who? And I’ve met them when? Single dads and single moms are both in this frame of mind. Now, this isn’t to say that their train of thought is the same but the protective mindset and instincts are.
Fear of the Single Parent Label: In the world of dating, single parents wonder if non-single parents will judge them for being a single parent. This applies to moms and dads albeit through a different lens.
- Bad and cliché single mother adjectives they worry about: Broke. Desperate. Difficult. Mad (as in Hatter). Mad (as in angry)
- Bad and cliché single father adjectives we worry about: Bastard. Absentee.
Work/Life Balance: **This is a difficult area to write about because of the known gap that can exist between a single mother and the father of her child that abandoned them. So, for the purpose of this segment, let me acknowledge the reality that some guys leave and/or don’t do their part. Let me also state that I do not refer to them as men nor will I refer to them as single dads.** So, focused on single dads, there is a difficult work/life balance to be had. They must work and play just like single moms. They must deal with the perception of the other parent that they are not doing as much as they can or should. For instance, I have a lot of male clients that are single dads and they agonize about working in a metropolitan area that gives them 2-hour work commutes and late arrivals to sports practices. There are countless other work/life balance fears, too many to list in this space.
Being Respectful To and About Their Former Half: Post-divorce or separation, there will be questions about what happened. There will be observations and statements made about what mommy did or who daddy was talking to. There will be girlfriends and boyfriends down the line and the subsequent ‘tells’ and conversations with them. Through these and other inquiries comes a decision for both parents. What to say and what not to say. When and how to say it. There is a perception that single dads will worry less about this because of the overarching belief that men lack the emotional availability and connection to go deeper than their own surface thoughts. Simply put: We often believe that men are too black and white and emotionally distant to put a lot of thought into these inquiries or to even have the difficult and respectful conversations with their children or new girlfriends. In some cases, this is true and to say otherwise would be dishonest. But in most cases, men agonize over these discussions.
I’ve only tackled four areas of similarities and could have easily tackled several others. How are the bills going to be paid? How do I talk to Sarah about sex? Is Courtney’s new boyfriend a better provider than I was? These are real challenges and fears that single dads deal with, just as single mothers do. From my perspective, I have three significant issues I don’t mind talking about as a single dad.
- The aforementioned reality that my daughter will eventually want to see her friends and participate in high school activities more so than she does me. Even if I wholeheartedly believe she’s not knowingly choosing them over me, the social life is an important and heartbreaking reality.
- The reality that my daughter will start dating and how to balance my protective side with my pragmatic one.
- The social media and YouTube age we live in and the reality that our children are dealing with so many threats that they cannot even see.
Papa bear signing off.