Single dads often carry tremendous weight. Some of the toughest times in my entire parenting journey happened when I was a single father. But I have also experienced joy in my life that apart from being a parent, I never would have known exists.
Fatherhood is hard. It can be overwhelming. But there is also something deep inside us that drives us to excel at it. There may be moments you feel like caving in. I challenge you to look for blessings in disguise. Here are 3 reasons why being a single dad is so dang hard—but also the best job you may ever have.
1. You’re carrying extra weight on your shoulders.
Whether you are the sole care provider for your children or in a co-parenting relationship, fatherhood is hard and puts extra burdens on you. Your kids need you continuously and you also have work and maybe school deadlines. When the days grow long and you are completely drained, your children seem to need you more than ever. Being the rock of the family can feel more crushing than foundational.
So where is the blessing in this? Think about carrying your kids on your shoulders. That’s weight, but you’ll look back on it fondly. In moments like these, the weight is hardly noticeable. Dads have an awesome opportunity to carry their kids and also to help their kids carry their own burdens. This sends the message that no matter what they encounter in life, Dad is right there alongside them.
2. Stuff gets dumped on you.
I’ll never forget as a single father when I was hit with news that blindsided me—legal stuff. Fatherhood is hard enough, but this added to my exhaustion and tested my financial limits. How? When? WHY? I thought to myself. It really didn’t matter. It was happening. Drama aside, we all will have unexpected experiences that are inconvenient or downright stressful. Appliances break. Cars die. Your boss chooses you for an extra project. It adds up and if you’re not careful, the stress can drastically impact your parenting. Before these things happen, have safeguards in place like a strong support system to fall back on, knowing where to access the right community resources, and being able to talk your personal struggles through with your children in an age-appropriate way.
Then there are the times when stuff getting dumped on you produces smiles and giggles. Think of the water fights with your children in the backyard or the beach. I’ve even had wet sand put in my hair. Mr. Rogers said, “Play is the work of childhood.” In addition to helping your kids develop healthy social-emotional skills, simply letting them dump a bucket of water over your head from time to time creates memories that can last a lifetime.
3. You are brought to new heights.Fatherhood is hard, but overcoming adversity can be empowering and helps develop our character.
Fatherhood is hard, but overcoming adversity can be empowering and helps develop our character. When I was a personal trainer, this concept was simple: Resistance leads to growth. In the gym, adding weight (i.e., resistance) increased my clients’ physical strength. As the weight increased, they became more conditioned to handle it. This idea can be applied to parenting too. We may fail in the way we handled a parenting opportunity. We learn, make changes where needed, and approach the same trial differently the next time it arises. The result? We become better parents along the way.
Depending on your child’s age and ability, consider exploring new heights with him or her. Build a treehouse, climb a rock wall, or traverse a rope course. Plan together how you’ll overcome any obstacles along the way. This helps equip your kids with the resilience and problem-solving skills they will need throughout life. And the feeling of accomplishing something together is an invaluable life experience you can share together.
Sound off: What are the greatest moments you have experienced as a single father?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you love most about our family?”