It is a well-known fact that single motherhood is on the rise – but it is a lesser-known fact that the same is true for single fatherhood. And despite a 27 percent increase in single dads over the past ten years, divorced and unmarried single dads seem to go forgotten amidst the numbers. To help highlight the important role these men play in raising tomorrow’s generation and appreciate their hard work and efforts, we wanted to single out and appreciate all single dads this Father’s Day.
First, we want to make sure to divorce the notion that appreciating or celebrating fatherhood somehow diminishes motherhood. It goes without saying that a child benefits the most from more than one parent. But countless circumstances can prevent that from being an option. That does not make your family “broken,” nor does it make you any less capable as a parent.
And even though most courts find the mother to best suit the role of primary caregiver, there are many times when a father does the job just as well or better. Just as single mothers are viewed critically when they don’t raise their children “perfectly,” single fathers are assumed to be less capable of childrearing to begin with, which is a patronizing viewpoint at best, and a harmful one at worst, particularly when it comes to awarding custody.
Being a parent is never easy, and being a single parent can sometimes feel like an insurmountable challenge. You must understand that you are not alone and that support is always available. It’s also important to recognize that self-care and healthy coping skills are still essential when facing the stress of being a single father. This Father’s Day, we’d like to drive home the point that single fathers are appreciated – and should take some time for themselves.
Exploring Single Fatherhood
Single dads belong to a group of 2.6 million men in America or about 16 percent of single-parent households. Over a quarter of all fathers under the age of 30 are single parents, and single fatherhood has tripled in the last twenty years. It’s time to recognize the contributions that single dads have made in the lives of millions of Americans and the effort they’ve gone through to create a loving home for their kids.
The preconceived notion that mothers are inherently better parents is sadly still present in today’s society, even if it shows itself in subtle ways, such as how teachers default to mom when arranging parent-teacher meetings or how men’s bathrooms don’t typically feature changing tables. This bias even shows itself in research – most of which centers around single motherhood, with very few studies concerning themselves with the effects of single parenthood on children, both in the short and long term.
Why You Should Celebrate Your Family
Your family is one of many happy, wholesome families in America. Studies show that growing up with both parents helps kids adjust to the challenges of adulthood, but that doesn’t mean single parents can’t cut it. A risk factor is a risk factor and not a guarantee of failure. Single mothers and single fathers naturally have a harder time raising children, but they are still every bit capable of delivering on their roles.
The truth is that, in most cases of single fatherhood, a judge had to make the legal ruling that separating the parents and putting sole custody in the hands of the father is in the best interest of the child. This means that the legal system, its peers, and society are beginning to recognize that fathers can be competent sole caregivers for their children and that they can be nurturing as well.
Your living situation may not be the norm, but that doesn’t make it abnormal. Your family may be special, but it is in no way less. Most importantly, families led by single fathers are in no way broken! Your family is whole – and it will remain so for as long as you love your child and for as long as they love you. A family is a family. And yours is in no way too little or not enough.
What You Can Do for Yourself
Many fathers actively or subconsciously recognize that some people expect them to do less of a job than mothers would, leading them to work twice as hard to disprove those people. But being a good parent also means knowing when to take time for yourself, especially for the sake of your kids. We all need relaxation. And there’s no better time to reflect on your needs and reconsider your personal priorities than Father’s Day.
Consider a sitter. Do something to take care of your mental health. Take some time to revisit the gym. Pick up a restorative hobby you’ve had to ignore recently or a creative pastime. And, perhaps most importantly, consider finding ways to revitalize your social life – even if that means getting out of the house once in a while.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed these past few months, know that you aren’t alone. We all need help sometimes, whether it’s through family or professional help. Single parenting during the pandemic has been harder than ever, and there is no shame in admitting that you should consider speaking with someone about how you’ve been feeling.
In fact, you must do. Even if you don’t personally feel at risk for any real mental health issues, a visit to a therapist via telehealth or appointment can be a preventative measure to help you better cope with the stress, relieve some pressure, and discuss some potential coping skills.
Legal Help for Single Fathers
If you’re a single dad in the middle of a divorce or separation, then getting as much legal help as you can is critical. You deserve proper representation, the kind that appreciates how hard you’re working to be a good father to your children.