Despite the rising numbers of single-dad households in the country, they continue to face and silently battle these seemingly simple, everyday challenges.
More often than not, fathers are involuntarily relegated by family courts to the role of “accessory parents,” instead of active caregivers. — Edward Kruk Ph.D.
A 2013 Pew Research Center survey showed these results:
- The percentage of US households with minor kids headed by single fathers rose up from just 1% in 1960 to 8% in 2013.
- The country’s single-parent households headed by dads in 1960 were only 14%, but it went up to 24% in 2013, a ten-percent difference.
The data exhibited a fact that should have been long established – that single-dad households are real and are existing. However, despite these numbers and proofs, many single fathers face challenges that most single mothers don’t and are, at times, stigmatized.
We did a little survey of our own and gathered the many challenges single dads face in their everyday lives. These are the five most common ones.
- The Child’s General Appearance
Most people would assume that if the father’s in charge of the house, the child will most likely come out “badly” dressed. Moms are the perfect ideals for clothing color coordination and impeccable hair grooming while dads are stereotyped as the ones who don’t have an eye for fashion and would let kids get away with anything. This problem isn’t something only a single father faces but is one shared even with dads in two-parent households.
“My child’s preschool teacher would have this certain look in her eye when she sees me dropping my daughter at school. She’d smile patronizingly at me, run her eyes through my kid then would almost look like she’s apologetic or something,” one father shared. “I might not have the same fashion sense as my wife, but that’s my very best there, in the clothes my daughter wears. It’s annoying sometimes when people don’t recognize that and just judge you outright.”
- “Babysitting” The Kids
Many single dads lament the fact that the public sees them as just “babysitting” their kids and not actually parenting them.
The assumption is—and has been—that mothers matter more than fathers to a child’s health and development. As a result, the image of fathers and their contributions to their children’s lives is more negative than positive, more myth and stereotype than fact. — Susan Newman Ph.D.
As one single dad wrote online, “The western world has done all it can to tell us fathers that we can’t be successful parents – all the bullying, the culture shaming, even the insensitive images of masculinity. But fatherhood has evolved since the 50s. We’re not just breadwinners now. We’re also capable of taking care of our kids as much as mothers do and as best as we can. Don’t put us in the masculinity box this culture made for us.”
This same single dad went on to write how fathers struggle in parenting because they were not raised to be loving, to show emotions and even to be nurturing.
This problem isn’t limited to single-parent households either as many stay-at-home, and even working dads in two-parent homes say people get incredulous looks when they speak about being hands-on in childcare.
- Proper Public Restroom Protocol
When moms are with their little boys who want to pee, they bring their kids into the woman’s bathroom and have them pee there without getting as much as a look from anyone. Not so with daddies of little girls. Single fathers are left troubled when their daughters want to pee as bringing the child to either sex’s public restroom present problems (exposure in the men’s and putting one’s self at risk of being labeled as a maniac in the women’s).
A family therapist answered this particular dilemma in a newspaper column by giving these solutions:
Find a family restroom first, but if there isn’t any,
The last resort is to bring the child to the toilet designated for women
In light of this restroom problem, Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher even went as far as launching an online petition addressing the shortage of changing tables in the men’s room in 2015. The appeal was a success with the targeted supermarkets responding positively to it.
Sleepovers might seem like a small problem to some, but for single fathers who have daughters who want to do the activity at their house; it can be a significant dilemma. Many single dads shared online how they kept on apologizing to their daughters about not sleepovers due to the lack of a mother’s presence in their homes.
As one single dad said, “Most parents equate mothers in the house as safer grounds for sleepovers. It’s not that I make them uncomfortable, I’m friends with these parents, and we get along well. The reason they give me is that because I’m a man.”
I’m sure you never imagined being a single dad. When you fantasized about becoming a father, your hopes and dreams reflected having an cohesive family unit and being in your child’s life full time. — Andra Brosh, PhD
- Asking For Help Or Assistance
While the numbers of single dads in the country are rising, it isn’t exactly the norm, unlike single motherhood. And because of this, dads are left to navigate the unknown on their own, afraid to ask the assistance of any form lest they are turned down or snubbed.
“Everyone seems eager to help a struggling single mom, but single dads who reach out for assistance has to go through a lot of questioning and such to get that same aid,” one single father bluntly said.
“Besides, we’re wired, modeled to show strength, be masculine, and help ourselves. That’s why it could be embarrassing to admit to ourselves that we’re stressed and harassed and in dire need of help,” the single father added.