challenges in life

Top 5 Barriers Single Fathers Face and How to Overcome Them

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—but that’s only if we’re able to apply the right tools to the challenges we face and learn how to overcome them. I have faced all of the examples listed below. Some I have pushed through with relative ease; others are still a work in progress. We all experience challenges in life; but here are five barriers that can especially apply to single fathers—and guidance to help conquer them.

1. Single parenting isn’t natural

I believe parenting was created as a two-person system; and when one parent is removed from the equation, for whatever reason, the full burden falls on the other. You may be caring for your kids completely alone, or perhaps with shared custody. Either way, surrounding yourself and your children with other healthy adults to help fill in the gaps is wise. If appropriate, is there a woman who can help mentor your growing daughter? Perhaps others that you trust to help carry the weight with childcare, transportation, or other daily needs?

2. Mom and the courts

Yup, I’m going there. The reality is there are plenty of great dads that are being hindered by spiteful moms and bias courts. The pain and frustration can cause a downward spiral that can quickly get out of control if not checked early. Whether your situation with Mom ever gets easier, or if the court order doesn’t change, I highly encourage you to remain focused on one thing: parenting your children to the absolute best of your ability for the sake of their long-term growth.

3. Father wounds

For better or worse, our fathers have a major impact on the ways we view ourselves and possibly the way we parent our children. Perhaps your own father did not give you his best because he was always working or he wasn’t a generally affectionate man. Are you living with scars from his words or lack of presence in your life? Despite any emotional roadblocks your father left on you, you can make sure the same doesn’t repeat in your kids’ lives. Who can you talk with to begin the healing process now and be free from this barrier once and for all?

4. Failure to adjust with your children

Okay, this could be said for many parents. It seems just as we are getting used to a certain age and behavior level, our kids move on to the next stage in life! Anytime we are not intentional about adjusting with our children’s growing emotional and physical needs, we risk falling short in parenting them correctly. Extracurricular activities (and their growing social life) only add to the urgency. If a single father is proactive in his children’s lives and makes the necessary adjustments, it will reap long-term benefits and help establish his children as healthy adults.

5. Distance

Whether or not by your choice, physical distance between you and your children may seem strenuous or confusing. Can you really parent from a distance? Yes! Dad, your words and influence will always carry great weight in your child’s life. Stay connected to their school and encourage them to stay on top of their work. Tell them how much you love and miss them and express influence by encouraging them to behave for their mom. Ask the tough life questions—no different than if you were living with them. I think it is fair to say that a father that is parenting correctly from a great distance can be more effective than a dad who lives with his children…but still seems so very distant.

Sound Off

What barriers have you faced as a single father and how have you handled it?

Matt Haviland

Matt Haviland writes to reach single dads in the community. He lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI.

  • RobertinVA

    A gentle reminder that not all single fathers got that way because of divorce (or similar breakup scenarios). There are those whose lost their spouses to disease, accident, etc., and still soldier on as a single parent. I enjoy reading these advice articles, especially the ones about single dads, but I haven’t seen much attention paid to those men who have gone through that experience. Just a different perspective.

    • Matt Haviland

      You are correct Robert, thank you. I will be the first to admit there are not many resources for single father widowers and will consider writing more on the subject. Thanks again.

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