8 Tips for Parenting as a Single Dad


By Noha Abu Sitta

Life as a single dad is definitely not less challenging than it is for a single mom. Both men and women have the capability of being caring and nurturing parents if they intend to and work on it. However, it could be more challenging for a man to become a new single dad with children at home. Parenting in itself is a major and life-changing task where a parent or parents often have to juggle work, kids, home management, food, shopping, social life, family obligations, sport activities and extracurricular activities, working out, running errands, school work, disciplining, preparing school lunch boxes, doctor visits, sick children, etc.  It can get too overwhelming just thinking about it.

Most single dads are single because they’ve divorced. Single fatherhood is already a very challenging transition yet when it is the result of the death of your spouse, it becomes even more challenging as it is emotionally charged. This requires that you deal with your own grief as well as your children’s too. Ask for help from relatives, friends and professionals so this stage passes in a less stressful manner.

Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have but the most rewarding experience and the greatest investment ever. here are 8 tips for the most common challenges facing single dads.

The first year is always the hardest!

During the first year of single parenthood, you feel lost, confused, not knowing where to start from, what to do, how to manage everything on your plate. This is when a few dads would feel like they aren’t capable of dealing with this huge responsibility, it might even affect their self-esteem. Be patient, get to know your kids, educate yourself about parenthood, practice and learn from your errors. This is a lifetime job that you can’t simply quit or give up on. As Kent Nerburn said, “It is much easier to become a father than to be one”.

Don’t divorce your kids!

Typically, some fathers disconnect from their children when they divorce, either because they are angry or simply to escape reality. Divorce can sometimes strengthen the connection between children and their dads in a way that was not possible before. So embrace this and work on your relationship with your own children instead of divorcing them.

Your kids should be on your priority list.

Being present for your kids is your greatest present to them. Commit to spending time with your children. This is your greatest investment. Buying them expensive gifts and sending them on pricey trips would never compromise your actual existence and presence with them in their life. Be there at parent evenings, give them lifts, go watch a movie together, attend their favorite concert or football match, travel somewhere exciting and adventurous or more relaxing if you need to, go shopping with them. Simply be there for them whenever they need you and treasure these memories as much as you can. Before you know it they will be grown and un-attached!

Establish your set of rules and consistent routines.

If you and your ex can agree on specific unified rules, that is definitely great, but in most cases, she will probably have a totally different set of rules than yours. Your kids need to learn that each house has its own rules, and that should be honored and respected. Don’t worry, they already have another set of rules at school different to the ones you have at home and they learn to apply them. This is something they learn to accept and adapt to with time.

Raising daughters could feel like a daunting task.

Many dads are intimidated by the idea of having to raise a daughter without a mother in the home. This is also true for single moms raising sons on their own. Usually parents feel they can better understand the needs of a child of the same gender. This could be true, so you will need to educate yourself on the needs of girls and tend to them.

Never talk down to their mother.

Kids need a mom as much as they need a dad. Don’t criticize, blame nor demean their mom, ever. Whether you are doing it seeking revenge or are just sharing your insights, this can cause more harm to your kids than good. Your relationship with their mom has ended but they are stuck in this relationship with both of you forever so don’t make their lives harder at any cost.

Be all ears.

Listen to your children’s stories and validate their feelings even if you’ll have to disagree with their behavior sometimes. Be curious and interested to know about their lives: friends, interests, likes, dislikes, hobbies and dreams. You must get to know and understand them well to be able to work on strengthening your relationship together.

Exhaustion will become your companion.

Take good care of your own self. Pay attention to your food, sleep and exercise. Make some time on your schedule for your own social life.

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