Households headed by single fathers are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States, and now according to Pew (the people who interpreted the Census Bureau data), nearly one fourth of single parent households are headed by men. In 2011, there were 2.6 million households headed by a single father. Pew surmises that the changes in both law and policy have made this phenomena what it is.
Single fathers very often lack the support structure or social acceptance of single moms. Mothers are “expected” to take care of the kids. Often that doesn’t work out. Single fathers are usually under much more financial pressure than their female counterparts. The percentage of single fathers who receive any form of financial support from mom is also laughably low. I know a large number of single fathers, but don’t know any that receive financial support. In a lot of cases, you’re own your own with a kid. While much is made of “deadbeat dads,” the latest Census Bureau information shows that only about 30% of non-custodial mothers are ever ordered to pay support.
It took a few years for my son’s doctor to get used to the idea that I was going to be the one bringing him to his appointments. I quit two jobs because my bosses couldn’t understand why I had to take time off work to care for my child. I am now self-employed, and until my son turns 18, that’s about the only option for me.
The problem that single dads have is the lack of a guidebook. When I started out many years ago with my son, I had to figure things out for myself. I have no family in the area, and did not have the resources to take much needed breaks. I didn’t use babysitters – didn’t trust them. This was a mistake. Whatever the reasons, you have to find time for yourself occasionally. Find constructive hobbies you enjoy. Spend time with friends. Eat healthy food. Get rest. Work out. Really – go to a gym and lift stuff. You need to stay in shape no matter what. Most gyms have child care areas. Make the time. Do it.
As a friend of mine said recently, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone else.”
When you’re feeling tired, sore and miserable, remember that it may be because you have a crap diet, don’t exercise and all you do is work and take care of a kid. Keeping taking care of the kid, but change the rest. You’ll feel better and so will your kids.