On one particular blog writing day at my favorite bistro, I found myself sitting at a table next to two women in their late thirties. As I worked away, I must admit I had one ear on their conversation because they were complaining about their ex-husbands.
I understand that divorced people definitely need to vent about the exes now and again (trust me – I’m guilty of that) but it irked me that when they said their exes were deadbeats/do what you want to do at dad’s and one said to the other “Aren’t all divorced fathers that way?” I could not remain silent. I looked over and said. “No, not ALL divorced fathers are that way!”.
When I would usually not say a word, I proceeded to dump my story on them of how I pay child and spousal support faithfully, how my three children have chores and responsibilities, how I tear up every time they leave to go back to my ex’s even though it’s been four years, and a few other things. I’m sure they thought ‘who is this guy and why is he telling us this?’ They were apologetic to say the least but I also felt bad because it made me understand why stereotypical generalities are made about single fathers.
My hope is to debunk the top 4 single father myths that I have heard in hopes that it helps someone out there – someone who might not have the other side of a story.
#1 – They are deadbeats – This is probably one of the most common one. Newsflash – none of the single fathers I know are “deadbeat” dads. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Many are financially stretched beyond imagination due to their divorce situation. But, they do the right thing for the benefit of their children. I’m in that category.
#2 – When the kids aren’t with their father, he doesn’t think about them – Wrong. Now that my oldest has a phone, it’s daily contact. I call at least every other day just to hear their voices. With a fifteen-year-old girl, I have had (and continue to have) sleepless nights as she continues to grow and become her own person. Just because our kids aren’t with us does not mean our minds don’t constantly fret about their welfare. Never doubt this. So many of my single father friends suffer silently when their kids aren’t around. The house is empty and silent. Whether they show it or not, you can trust that most have a heart that is partially empty without their kids.
#3 – Dads are not sentimental – I know so many fathers that do everything from writing their children letters, journals, cards, emails, texts, attend sporting events, recitals, and ceremonies, just to see their children one more time. Trust me when I tell you, our hearts swell with pride whenever our children do anything of growth, something that makes them happy. Personally, I have had so many special experiences with my girls. I’ve also had some amazing moments with my son. I soak it in. As many other fathers do, we love and cherish those moments.
#4 – It’s all fun and games at Dad’s house – Heavens No! As much as I think my kids wished this, it is simply not the case. Like many single fathers I know, we provide our children responsibilities to help them learn and grow. My oldest cleans the kitchen and vacuums. My middle child loves to clean the bathrooms (God love her). And, the eight year old boy does the garbage and dusts. I also impose time restrictions with TV, iPads, and phones. But, even with all of that we still have fun. It is critical to have that balance and that’s what I aim for.
Single parenting is never easy. I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments. I’ve had to step more outside my comfort zone more than I thought I would have too. However, it’s been good thus far. My kids are happy and healthy, as am I. I can only hope I can continue to improve as a father and never become one that people speak badly about. Next time you hear someone speak badly about fathers in general, speak up…because one shouldn’t judge all fathers the same.