By: Detra Davis
“Mama said there’d be days like this,” are strikingly honest lyrics that should be the introduction to the single dad’s national anthem. What mama didn’t say is that the days would sometimes go on, and on, and on, and on. It’s no secret that being a single parent is a tough job, and being a single mom is next to impossible, but being a single dad, now that is a death defying feat.
Single dads are not supposed to exists, it’s a sort of oxymoron; like marital bliss. Fortunately, any dad who takes on the role of single parent “by choice” should receive an Oscar; okay at least a Golden Globe. The knowledge that comes naturally to women does not exist in the pronominal character of a man.
There is however, basic knowledge that fathers should know if they find themselves under the category of single father.
Note: This list is not all inclusive and you are welcome to add your own words of wisdom, just remember like all families, single or not, your children reflect the type of home they come from, so take pride dad, take pride!
1. Babies are a lot tougher than you think, so be gentle.
2. Toddlers will not listen to you, pick your battles.
3. When feeding children 0 to 6 years of age, keep it simple, real simple.
4. Little children have accidents, get over it, learn to clean it up and wait on the next oops…it will happen.
5. Never leave the house without sending everyone to the bathroom first.
6. Always have a first aid kit. Keep one in the house, in the car and at your place of employment.
7. Childproof your home, every inch.
8. Never leave small children alone in the bath tub.
9. Never leave older children to supervise small children alone in the bath tub.
10. When tending to your children, allow the phone or cell phone to ring, the voice mail will pick up the call. Who ever it is, they can wait. Your children are a priority.
11. Play with your children.
12. Sing with your children. (Sing anyway)
13. Entertain your children. Act silly, tell jokes, have fun with your children.
14. Take pride in how your children look. Clean, well fitting, color coordinated clothing is key. Keep it simple. (Gently used is okay…honest)
15. Teach your children that cleanliness is next to….well, you know….BATHE from head to toe.
16. Some small children need to use deodorant.
17. Talk to your mother, female friend, or female physician about female hygiene concerns.
18. Talk to your children about sex, drugs, video games, porn sites and all other issues covered in the newspaper and on television, before they hear it or learn of it outside their home.
19. Keep a family photo album.
20. Take photos of special events and everyday activities.
21. Watch your children play, study, and interact with one another, learn about their personality.
22. Don’t ever, ever be afraid to tell your children “NO”…Just say “NO” (Give a short explanation, but don’t renege).
23. Organize your family life, a lack of structure is stressful to you and your children (it’s okay to have a schedule…up at 7 a.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. lights out at 8 p.m.) You know.
24. Show and tell your children how to behave, set the example.
25. “I hate you,” and “I wish you were dead” are common expressions used by all children and teens at least once in their life, expect to hear it
26. Your children are human, they will get angry. Allow a cool down period and then talk, listen, talk, listen, talk, listen, listen, listen.
27. Tweens (children 10-14) are all knowing; always go behind them and check everything they say and do.
28. Teenagers are all knowing and all doing, always go behind them, under them, around, them and through them, checking everything they say and do.
29. Give your children chores; there are no free lunches in life.
30. Insist your teenagers work; it builds character and prepares them for the reality of life.
31. Never buy your child a car or any expensive item; they will care for it better if they have invested in it 100%.
32. Never get your child a cell phone unless they can pay for it themselves. If you must, use a phone that allows limited calling i.e. a Firefly (I am not plugging this, it’s just an example) if you must provide a method of communicating with your child.
33. Do not buy your child anything they want, they will not respect you or appreciate the purchase.
34. Tell your daughters the truth about how boys really think.
35. Encourage your children to celebrate life and be happy.
36. Encourage your children to understand the mind/body connection and take care of both.
37. Eat healthy foods.
38. Plant a garden with your children.
39. Provide opportunities for your children to succeed in sports, board games, cooking.
40. Praise your children for being good, loving, caring people when they display those behaviors.
41. Expose your children to the possibilities in life, encourage them to dream big dreams.
42. Never be jealous of your children.
43. Love your children unconditionally, there will be times when this is difficult, or seem next to impossible; just do it.
44. Learn to let go of your children and let them fail, it really does build character.
45. Learn to wait before helping your children out of financial difficulty. Allow them to figure out the solution for themselves.
46. Know that children are particularly emotionally dependent on single parents.
47. Know that single parents are particularly emotionally dependent on their children.
48. Learn to live and love apart.
49. Appreciate all the ups and downs of raising your children and know you did the best you could and that was alright.
50. Celebrate a job well done!
About the author
Detra D. Davis is a certified Parent Educator with the North Carolina Parent Network and has been a writer for over 25 years.