I'm a single mom, and sometimes I feel like I have it rough. But, I know a lot of single dads, from dating them, being friends with them and getting their emails and blog responses, and I can honestly say that being a single dad doesn't seem like any big picnic. So, I want to validate single dads and tell them how much the single mom really appreciates them, whether she admits it or not.
Here are five characteristics of the single dad. By the way, disclaimer: these are not true in every case, just generalizations from what I've seen.
1. Single dads are often inexperienced to multi-tasking.
Let's face it. Women are better at multi-tasking than men. We all know that. I'm by no means putting down men. So many men I know are smart, caring, loving, wonderful dads. But, when it comes to being able to clean the kitchen while on a conference call while having dinner on the stove, laundry in the machine and going through the mail, all at the same time, no one is better than mom. It's just in our nature. I think getting all the "stuff" that has to be done under control takes time for the single dad.
2. Single dads don't get to "live with their kids."
I don't care what anyone says, or what kind of custody arrangement a divorced couple might have. Most of the time, the woman ends up staying in the house, and that's where the kids "live." I think single dads try to have as much time as they can with their kids, and most try to make a home for their kids at "dad's house," but because of work obligations, travel, kid schedules, etc. it's easier a lot of the time for the kids just to stay at mom's. Therefore, the single dad has a lot less nights where he can kiss his kids good-night.
3. Single dads often feel left out of things.
As a single mom, I can recall times when I forgot to tell my ex about certain school events, and emailed him last minute, when I remembered. By the time he got the email, he was unable to attend because he had already booked a work appointment at that time. Hey, single dads, just fyi, we don't do that on purpose. There are just so many flyers and emails that come from school and other kid activities, and it's hard to keep track. Those all seem to go through the mom, so the only way the dad finds out is through her. I would recommend to all divorced couples: give the school, teachers and extra curricular activities personnel both parent's email addresses. Dad needs to be notified on his own.
4. Single dads can become insecure about parenting.
Before the divorce, mom might have done everything. So, when Dad becomes a single dad, no offense, but he's clueless. He might never have had to worry about a meal for the kids, he might never have changed a diaper or cleaned the house. Now, he's Mr. Mom. He has to be. He's all they have when they are with him. And I know a lot of dads who were scared of that at first. But, like everything else, eventually dads get the hang of it. The good news, I think it becomes empowering to men when they realize they're capable of doing anything Mom can do. That said, it takes time to get there and it isn't easy.
5. Single dads are working and trying to parent at the same time.
I know dads who get off a plane from a business trip, rush home, unpack and then run to pick up their kids. It's not an easy life. They have to go from Mr. Corporate Guy to Mr. Mom. The transition can be difficult, not to mention the emails and return phone calls they might have to make while trying to entertain or make a snack for their young kids Yes, moms work, too. But for some reason, we can handle doing both just a little bit easier. Again, not bashing men. Just being realistic.
6. Single dads can't be mom.
Kids, especially young kids, need their mommies at certain times. No one can put a band-aid on a skinned knee like Mom. No one knows how to make their lunch the way she does. And no one can give that hug like her when the child is hurt by name calling at school. Dads might get a feeling of hopelessness when they can't calm their child down. Just remember, Dad. Your kids love you just as much as they love their mom. On the flipside, this will make you feel better. Dad is always "the fun one." He doesn't yell. He doesn't reprimand as much. He isn't the tooth brushing or bathing patrol. So, in that regard, moms get the raw end of the deal. Moms are viewed as "nags," even by their children! LOL.
I give a lot of credit to the single dad. So, to all single moms, try for a minute to put aside your issues, any anger or resentment you have, any differences you and your ex can't get beyond, and just appreciate him as a single dad.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE, about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)