When your child was born, your main concern was their happiness. When you and your partner broke up, your main concern was your child’s happiness. Now that you are officially a single dad the most important thing to you is their happiness. So how do you achieve their happiness while still being an all around awesome dad? Here are big Dos and Don’ts for a happy single dad and a happy child.
DO Let Your Child Choose Playtime
For single dads, there is a lot of pressure to make every moment together with their child a precious moment. A lot of dads go out of their way to plan every second with their child. If you aren’t taking them to a movie, you’re off to the amusement park, or the pool or shilling out the big bucks to go to a baseball game. As much as these activities are, it doesn’t give you a chance to talk to your child in length or provide them with any opportunity to pick out what they would like to do.
Try instead, waking up one day with a completely blank slate. Ask your child what they want for breakfast. Even if they suggest ice cream, you can work with their suggestions. Work together in the kitchen to make and some pancakes. Then (for a treat) throw on a dollop of ice cream. Once breakfast, ask your children what they would like to play. By “play” we mean without technology. Turn off your phone (or at least put it away where it won’t be a distraction); turn off the TV and I-pad. Even if it’s for five minutes, completely organic, uninterrupted play time with your child with teach you so much more about who they are and what they care about. Chances are, they’ll remember the time you talked and played over the time you spent planning out the day.
DON’T Shield Your Child from Pain
A happy child does not necessarily mean a child who has never been unhappy. In order to be fully well rounded, reasonable people, they must understand what it is to be truly glad for the right reasons and deeply miserable. Disappointment and failure will put success into perspective. We’re not saying throw them into the lions den to fend for themselves. Start off slow. For instance, if your child doesn’t like their teacher or classmates, let them try to handle it themselves. The fact is the world is full of people they will love and full of people they won’t. You can show them you care but you don’t want to hover above them ready to solve all their problems. Let them fail, pick them up, dust them off and send them back to try again.
As a single parent, there is a lot of guilt and concern that you may not be enough. While you would like to be everything for your child, accept that you’re only one person. The more you listen to your child, the better off you will be.