For one reason or another, the future of your children is now in your hands and your hands alone.
I know we all love our kids but let's face it, for most of us men, the thought of raising kids on our own is frightening! You may think to yourself: “Hmm, what on earth am I going to do?”
I know when I became a single dad I felt alone and helpless at times. I wasn't used to the added responsibility. I was used to coming home after work, kissing my wife and kids, having dinner, and then finally melting into my recliner to catch the last half of the game. With mommy not around, I was now the target for countless questions, cleaning up all the messes, and kissing all the boo boos. I was immediately overwhelmed.
It took some trial and error, but I began to figure it out. Being a single dad started to get easier. I looked at my kids as little miracles instead of little monsters. To avoid all the trial and error I went through, I created these tips for single fathers.
Follow them, and you will notice the responsibilities will get easier day by day.
1. Be slow to anger.
As men, we tend to be quick to anger or to establish our rule over those beneath us. Gandhi once said:
“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”
When our kids see us react with anger, they are less likely to comprehend the lesson. It is far better to get down to their level and explain our reasoning in a way they can comprehend. I found daily meditation or mindfulness exercises worked best to tame the fire inside. If you become angry, walk away until you are calm and come back to deliver your speech. Trust me; you will start to notice the benefits of remaining calm.
2. Develop better habits.
Children learn best through an example, so it's best to live how you expect them to live and to act how you expect them to act. Work on being more organized and responsible. Develop a routine and follow it. Kids will feel secure knowing exactly what to expect. Keep the house organized, start making healthier meals, plan a family game night or family day. I have an “Adventure Day” every Sunday afternoon where the kids and I pick a new park or creek to explore together. Show them how much you treasure them, and the rewards are endless.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
I know this one is going to be hard for most of you. Trust me, I did not want to ask anyone for anything. But let's face it, we are all human and no one person can get through this life happily and successfully on his own. We are all human, and it is human nature to fellowship with others. This is vital for those of us raising kids because we are going to need someone to babysit one day or give them a ride to school when the car doesn't start. We are going to need help at some point. Let go of the ego, swallow your pride, and ask. You will be grateful you did, and humility is part of living by example.
4. Most importantly, have fun!
Fun is what our kids crave the most. It's almost like a drug to them. When they are not having fun, they walk around the house with their heads down, whining about how bored they are. I'm not saying you have to take them to the amusement park every day, but the best way to build strong family bonds is by doing fun things together. Plan free activities for you all to enjoy! On the other hand, you also have to have fun yourself. Try and create a balanced work/life so you can take part in adult activities like dating or going to a dinner party. This is where it may be the right time to ask about that babysitter I mentioned before. Have fun together and on your own. Remember, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
I'm not saying being a single dad is going to be a breeze overnight. It's going to be rough at first, but if you practice these tips and continue to grow as a parent, your life will get easier. It is going to seem overwhelming, but you can do it. I now look at my kids with delight, and I miss them whenever they are gone. I still have much to learn, but I give it my best every single day. That, my friend, is all anyone can do.
Charles Davis is an entrepreneur and proud father. His passion for technology and business led him to pursue a freelance career so that he can help others while spending more much needed time with his family.