Becoming a single dad.
Topics that you have personally experienced are always easier to write about. When I was suggested this topic, I thought it would be easy.
However, when you experience certain things, the memories don’t always equate to positive ones. Memories of being a single parent are all positive for me. How I became a single parent is much less positive.
In previous blogs of mine, I went through the challenges of living with an alcoholic. An alcoholic parent is very dysfunctional, unstable and a handful to manage on top of two children. Being divorced and having one less dependent so to speak was a blessing.
What it takes to be a single parent.
At the time I was handed the role of being a single dad. I would not have been able to go through a list of qualifications. It was not a checklist that I could go through and give myself a certificate of completion/qualifications.
Besides, the training part I had been through for years. As my ex’s drinking got worse and worse, the more I had to pick up the pieces. I was already giving the kids their baths, clipping their nails, cleaning their ears and putting them to bed.
I did some of the laundry and while their mom was locked away in the home office, the kids and I did kid stuff. Lego, movies, reading, homework and general goofing around inside or outside with the dogs.
There is no true outline of what it takes. Much like reading a dozen books on parenting before having a baby. It is useless until you experience it. Practice vs theory, cannot learn to play football from a book.
What the challenges are.
This question alone could be a complete book and not a short blog entry. The challenges depend on the individuals, the kids and the upbringing of the kids.
My kids were good, that is a fact and to this day I cannot complain. Were they good because even in a slightly dysfunctional family they were raised well? I could pat myself on the shoulder and claim all the credit. I do not believe that one hundred percent. I give the kids credit… Kids learn by example and all I can claim credit for was that I set a good example for them. They learned by gauging the situation and understood that things were not as they should be.
How to stay sane.
My daughter was 13 and my son was 8 when I became a single dad. By then I had confided in my daughter and she knew the situation. My son and daughter were not ignorant of the fact that their mom was unwell.
This greatly helped me to stay sane and continue raising the children. At the point of divorce, I was terrified that if I lost custody of the children, they would be taken care of by an addict. A smoking, alcoholic that couldn’t function as a “normal” person. Before you ask, I have a whole series of blogs on how we as a family dealt with an alcoholic mom and the struggles we went through before we got to this point. In short, the kids helped me by being understanding, caring and good.
What the future holds.
If you were to ask me at that particular time, how I would manage to be a single dad I would never have been able to answer you. When my ex was issued a restraining order and I spent the first night completely alone with the kids I felt relief.
It is the only way I could describe this weight being lifted off my shoulder. I felt lighter, I felt happiness. Not because I was alone with the kids, not because my drunken wife/ex was out of my life. But because I had one less person to babysit. No arguments before bed and the kids and I were free!
Conclusion: Being a single parent isn’t easy but with the right mindset it is manageable.
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