Written by Monica Borschel, PhD and family law attorney Angelo C. Banks, JD
Being a single dad can be fulfilling, exhausting, and lonely. There might be times when you are so tired you don’t think that you can carry on. You might feel guilty when you want to do something for yourself. You might struggle to find a community of other single dads. Though you love and enjoy spending time with your children, you might need help finding time for everything. Being a single dad also has its rewards. Being able to help your children learn, grow and develop can be a gift.
The critical thing to remember is that children need their fathers. In a world that feels as if sometimes we have put the father as the second parent, sometimes fathers can shift focus to one single truth; fathers are just as crucial to a child as their mother. There is information for sons and daughters that their father can give them only. That is always a key point for the father-child relationship.
Being a single dad can be even more challenging if you go through a divorce or custody battle. You might feel like the court system favors women and are caught in an uphill battle. Due to the parenting schedule, you may also feel like you need more time with your children. As stated above, remember, you are just as important to your child’s upbringing as their mother. Taking less time with your children because there is some perception that a mother is just the better parent is not the reality.
Here are some pointers to help you to get through the ups and downs of being a single father:
- Have a Family Lawyer. A family lawyer can help to ease some of the stress you might feel from the court battle or parenting schedules. If you think your parenting time is unfair, they can help you in court to get more time. That extra time is not guaranteed, but a good family attorney can assist you in strategizing how you can get more time with your children.
- Find Time For Things You Enjoy. As a single dad, you may need to give your children all your excess energy and time. This can lead to feelings of burnout and exhaustion. Finding fun things to do with your children and yourself can help ease the stress. Finding fun things that appease your interest and the interest of your children are great experiences to have as a single father.
- Coping with Guilt. You might be guilty of mistakes in your marriage or with your children. You might also feel guilt for wanting to date again or spend time with your friends. Accountability allows us to learn from our mistakes. However, sometimes being too hard on ourselves leads to shame. Shame is the sense that we are somehow flawed or broken. Shame is not helpful. Making positive decisions for yourself does not end when you have children. Mental and social health is critical to your relationship with your children. They may show up in your relationship with your children if you feel guilt or other negative feelings.
- Asking for help. Everyone needs support at times. You might need help watching the children, cleaning your home, or understanding your feelings better. It can be challenging for men to reach out for emotional support. However, reaching out for help will make you a better parent and ease the stress. When raising children, you put people around you who understand your situation and share common interests and ideologies. Having other men who put in the effort to be great fathers is critical when you are also trying to grow as a father.
- Find Time To Decompress. What are the ways that you feel relaxed? It can look different for everyone. Some people enjoy music, art, reading, and yoga. Decompressing daily will help lower your stress and help you handle more pressure in the future. Do your best to find at least one hour a day or night to give entirely to yourself.
- Physical Exercise. Physical exercise helps to lower stress and tension. It also helps to keep you healthy so you can have more energy for your children. Having an exercise community can also help you to feel more supported. Also, depending on how old your children are and what they are active in, physical exercise with your children can be a big part of the father-child relationship.
Dr Monica Borschel, Ph.D. Divorce and Trauma Recovery Coach
Monica is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. She later moved to New York City, earning her master’s in clinical psychology from Columbia University. She then pursued her Doctorate in Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. Her training and qualifications include certifications in Brainspotting and High Conflict Coaching.
Angelo C. Banks, J.D., Banks Law Firm
Angelo is originally from Overland Park, Kansas. He spent a decade in the United States Air Force before discharging and attending the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law. While in the military, he also earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling. He works as a family law attorney for Banks Law Firm in Kansas City, Missouri.