‘Great Dad’s aren’t born, they grow over time’ is a poignant quote for divorced, never married, gay or widowed fathers. Single dad’s who are lost or just looking to hone their parenting skills can seek solace in the expert advice of Armin Brott, single dad and best-selling author.
In his book The Single Father, A Dad’s Guide to Parenting Without A Partner, Armin shares tools required to establish a healthy relationship with their kids regardless of the custodial situation. He draws attention to the million fathers who get divorced annually, joined by another million unmarried new dads as well as the million gay dads and widowers with adolescents or younger. The irony is that considering these growing numbers books written to reach this audience have been highly specialized until now.
The balancing act of single dad parenting
Single dad parenting is indeed a balancing act. Brott’s book addresses the emotional, social, practical and legal challenges single dads must face to fill a ‘huge void’ in male parenting literature. All types of fathers face their own challenges, which is why the book is organised so that most men can find it accessible regardless of their circumstances. The six major sections address everything from the father themselves and their efforts to resolve the emotional challenges resulting from being newly single including hiring lawyers and resolving practical issues.
Brott looks at the father and the system, addressing possible obstacles to custody visitation and child support. The third section looks at valuable tips on active single dad parenting for kids of all ages. He covers exes and how to deal with interference in father/child relationship and gets down to the nuts-and-bolts of how to shop, make the kids feel at home and stocking the kitchen. Brott even covers financial advice aligned to children’s college funds.
Finally, he deals with dating and the impacts it may have on single dad parenting, suggesting with active guidance that; “Being an actively involved single dad isn’t going to be easy. You may feel lost, alone, helpless, and confused along the way. But it will also be joyous, educational, and uplifting. Guaranteed.”
In the end, single dad parenting is a balance of struggles and rewards. When it comes to discipline things can get overwhelming while at the same time forging that unbreakable child/parent bond.
Consider the following advice
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: No one is Mr. Perfect, you can’t do everything on your own. Be kind and understanding with yourself and learn how to enjoy taking value from your mistakes.
- Take good care of yourself: Visit a doctor as often as possible and get plenty of rest along with balanced meals. Engage in stress relieving activities and remember that you need to put something in to get something out.
Communication, communication, communication
Studies reveal an invaluable tip for single dad parenting – if you set aside time to listen to your children and have a good 15 minute chat on a daily basis you will foster communication that can last a lifetime. This will be hugely beneficial when adolescence appears on the horizon.
This will require practice and patience and depends on the age of the child. At some phases kids are more willing to share about their personal lives and friends, such as the preschool and elementary phase where detail is essential. Use this eagerness to lay foundations for the future. This eagerness will become less in time but be sure that you don’t confuse their desires for independence with a need to continually foster a strong bond.
Single dad parenting and child communication also go hand in hand, so listen when they speak and ensure they feel comfortable sharing. Experts suggest the following as guidance;
- Stay informed about school : Attend teacher parent meetings, speak to teachers on a regular basis, show interest in your child’s involvement.
- Give them their space: Like that games room you always dreamed of, kids need some alone time too. Don’t pounce on them when they arrive, let them wind down and initiate a chat before dinner or after homework time.
Busting ‘bad dad’ media myths
Continuing in the vein of supporting single dad parenting, in his second book Throwaway Dads; The myths and barriers that keep men from being the fathers they want to be, Brott teams with noted researcher Ross Parke. “Men want to be better dads,” says Brott, “but as a society, we have wittingly and unwittingly built nearly insurmountable barriers – a kind of ‘glass ceiling’ that restrict men’s involvement with their children and families.”
This is a practical approach assisting fathers to promote involvement in their kid’s lives and harness their role as being vital to the child rearing process. Throwaway Dads shows that children with active dads are better adjusted than those with the stereotypical uninterested, abusive and lazy dad. Mothers and fathers have distinct social and biological roles, but Brott and Parke assist to challenge myths with statistics in support of healthy single dad parenting. These myths include how children are programmed to minimize the man’s role through media stereotyping and why even in same- sex societies, the patriarchal father-breadwinner philosophy persists.
Single dads may be pleased to read that the book also addresses how the media and politicians neglect men’s contributions instead of presenting solutions and the plenty of good role models.
Brott and Parke even tackle the system, revealing how the wedge placed between dads and their kids through litigation harms the children. This includes corporate structures limiting fatherly parenting engagement and a general revaluation of traditional gender stereotypes. Taking the first step toward acknowledging good single dad parenting capacity, the authors raise awareness in society by exploring mens involvement and processes to continue engaging more deeply in their children’s lives.
Single dad parenting stereotypes
Learning by others’ mistakes is a great way to cover ground and gather value from inevitable challenges. Single fathers and mothers tend to one of the following personality types, if you can identify these traits you can avoid being one;
- ‘The Emotional Patient’ tries to be a good friend to the kids and inadvertently ends up seeing them as a source of emotional support. Children need stability especially post the traumatic event that caused the single parent status so the less you discuss your problems with them the better. Rather turn to a counsellor than burden them with confusing issues.
- ‘The Guilt Tripper’ originates from natural emotions that occur in the single parent situation. The lack of being present as often as you wish may manifest as low self esteem which risks being passed onto the children. To enhance single dad parenting, watch out for this by seeking compliments for existing good dad techniques.
- ‘The Permissive Parent’ can need to learn healthier boundaries when it comes to behavior, sometimes being the bad cop is the only way to build character. There is nothing wrong with affection, nor is it healthy to act like a dictator. The art to being firm lies in balance.
- ‘The Martyr’ type that originates from self sacrifice which can result in burn out. You need to keep the tank full for the car to make the journey, it’s ok to hire a babysitter or get a friend to help out so you can stay in optimal single dad parenting mode.