After a breakup, dad’s world changes. A father’s sanity might be challenged by different living situations, difficult financial circumstances, and so much more. No matter what we are going through, no matter what it takes, dad has to be strong—children need and deserve an excellent father.
Post-breakup, part of the healing process is to rediscover our core self. Somehow, someway, there is a decent chance we’ve lost a piece of who we are along the way. The aftermath of a break up can be repurposed to harness our potential and rediscover the best path for ourselves. During the relationship, did we stop exercising, reading, or attending church? Especially after a breakup, it is crucial to reinvest in ourselves—self-care is essential. Dad cannot serve from an empty well.
When times get tough, some men turn to drugs or alcohol. While these vices may numb the pain in the moment, their solace is temporary—a mirage that our problems have vanished. In the morning, our problems are very much still there; irresponsible behaviors may have even caused additional self-inflicted anguish.
There are healthy ways to manage stress. Exercise releases endorphins that help us feel good about ourselves. Working out makes us feel better—a natural defense mechanism for negative feelings. Spend time with the right friends and family. Sports, work, and hobbies can keep us healthy as we heal.
If we allow our work to dominate our lives, we handcuff ourselves from being the best father we can be. If we work for someone, we may find ourselves at the mercy of our boss’ scheduling demands to accommodate our journey as a single father. By becoming irreplaceable in our profession, we can earn some flexibility over our availability. If we work for ourselves, remember to prioritize putting first things first. Whether we rely on the leniency of supervisors, the track record of past proven performance, or the freedom inherent in owning a successful business, single fathers should manage an appropriate balance between professional and paternal duties to be the nurturing father our children need and deserve.
It takes a village to raise a family. By surrounding ourselves with honest, good-hearted, and reliable people, we can make the single parenting journey a lot easier than by going about it alone. Emergencies happen; being able to phone a friend can be such a blessing—a little help can go a long way.
Goals, Habits, & Expectations
Whether short-term or long-term, build achievable goals into the schedule to continuously improve our prospects. Taking care of ourselves better equips us to take care of our children.
If we value fitness, health, knowledge, and faith, highlight their importance not only with words but with actions. Get regular exercise, have a balanced diet, read daily, and pray before meals and when tucking children in at night. Our goals and values may differ from their mother’s. When our children are with us, seize each moment—instill good habits and help them learn to avoid bad ones.
Be transparent with rules and consequences. Provide the structure and expectations that children need, deserve, and actually want; healthy standards intrinsically make them feel safe.
The Other Parent
Mom’s capabilities can fill us with emotions ranging from appreciation and gratitude to horror and dread. For good, bad, or indifferent, their mother is irreplaceable. If mom is great, both we and our children are extremely fortunate. If she is a crackpot, it is healthiest for our children’s development that they realize this all on their own; don’t criticize her. Children are very smart. They can read between the lines; don’t even criticize the female gender.
Unless mom hates us more than she loves her children, a quality co-parenting relationship should be feasible. Civility and respect both go a long way. Demonstrate calmness, even if things start getting awry. It is so healthy for children when dad holds himself consistently accountable for showing respect to mom—especially when the kids are within earshot.
Be on-time, honest, and don’t cause any undue stress.
Old & New Traditions
Before we separated from their mom, our family may have cherished certain traditions. Single dads may feel compelled to continue practicing some or all of these. With a clean slate and a fresh outlook, we can also be creative and lead the family with new and exciting traditions to celebrate together.
No one is perfect. When we are wrong, admit it sincerely, quickly, and emphatically. The bigger the transgression, the more heartfelt should be the apology. Every parent makes mistakes; strive to learn from them. Endeavor to not make the same mistake more than once. If we are truly doing our best, it’s cool to show ourselves grace as we learn from our mistakes and work towards being the best father we can be.
Master Active Listening
When dad embraces the active listening process, children feel more comfortable sharing experiences, hopes, and fears—and are more likely to ask for advice. When we truly listen, the dynamic of the relationship between father and child develops great power. Children who know that dad is listening will have confidence in being heard, appreciated, and understood.
Single fathers must remember that any new flame will be a major change in everyone’s world. If children meet a new “friend” every other month, this can be very confusing.
Introducing a New Partner
If we are confident that a new partner will be a positive role model and have staying power, consider introducing them to our children. When the time comes, aspire for a seamless transition as our new partner joins us and our children as an integral part of our cohesive family unit. Communicate with our new partner that the children are our top priority, while also reassuring the children that they will always come first.
By paying attention to our children, accommodating their needs, and designing healthy, predictable routines, our broken family can first heal, and then, thrive. With a positive attitude and unyielding commitment, so many loving, steadfast, nurturing protectors raise great kids—without having to put our own lives on hold.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” —Isaiah 40:31 NLT
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.