fathers matter

Why Single Fathers Matter

I was a single dad myself for over nine years- falling into the noncustodial parent category.  My daughter’s mom has always had primary custody, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still Dad, does it? Absolutely not. We can all agree that a single father is someone who has full or primary custody of his children, but what about the non-custodial fathers? Do those fathers matter? You bet we do! Whether you are parenting as a one-man team, have the routine weeknight and every other weekend, or perhaps are striving to see your children at all, I want to offer you some hope and encouragement here.

Research around the globe is consistent: when fathers are involved in the lives of their children (full or part-time), those children perform significantly better overall cognitively, emotionally, socially, and academically than those without involved dads. I realize we don’t know each other personally and that I’m not aware of your specific situation. What I can say, though, is if I haven’t been through it myself, I probably know someone who has. I have hosted a small group for single dads since 2008. One thing I have found to be the most consistent: when dads stay focused on who they are and why they matter, they eventually push through. [Tweet This] Notice I did not say things always got better. No, the dads were able to push through the difficulties that lay ahead. Sometimes there are immediate results, often there are not. Life’s answers usually come in one of three ways: yes, no, or keep waiting. Here are three quick ways you can stay encouraged and impactful in your parenting.

Quality, not quantity

A bit cliché, but true. Whether you are stretched thin on time from parenting alone, or see them very little, the best thing you can offer your children is yourself. When they’re grown and look back on life, it will be all of the little things we did for them rather than the big and extravagant.

They need you

Parenting was designed to be a two person team and when one parent is removed from the equation, an unnatural burden falls upon the other. Dad, you bring an aspect of love, authority, and stability into the life of your son or daughter that only you can. Your presence matters, any way you can provide it.

Strength from within

Think of working out: as we hit the gym regularly and increase the weights we lift, we naturally become stronger. The same is true in life: burdens that were once too heavy to lift eventually become manageable. Why? Because we are more conditioned to handle it! Find the strength based on your life experiences to overcome and hopefully, lift others up along the way.

In my own life, it took me a long time to figure most of this out. My custody hasn’t changed much over ten years, but the way I parent surely has. I stopped dwelling on the what if’s and turned my attention towards growing as a man and father. You’d be surprised how much we can invest in our kids in several hours; what a few words of love will mean down the line; and how life’s challenges are often disguised as greater blessings. Dad, embrace the role that has been given to you and run with it. Stay encouraged. Fatherhood in any capacity is never easy- but the rewards are priceless.

Sound Off

What encouragement would you give to other single dads?

Matt Haviland

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

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