As a female and a single parent to a hyperactive six-year-old son, I am often left at my wit’s end trying to be both mother and father to my son. It’s definitely not a walk in the park; I have to juggle being the family’s sole breadwinner and full-time mother. It’s like having two full-time jobs at the same time–no, make that three or four because everyone knows being a full-time mother doesn’t begin at 9 a.m and end at 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
Whenever he gets sick and I’m there beside him keeping watch–not only to make sure that he gets his medication as scheduled but also because I can’t sleep anyway–I often wonder how things would be like if I were a man instead, a single dad. Nurturing comes more naturally for women than for men. Despite what some feminists say, I believe that a woman’s primary role is to care for the home and children while the man works to provide food on the table. Now, with single parenthood, one has to do both. And I wonder, how can a single dad cope as effectively as a single mom given the fact that he is not wired to be a prime nurturer in the first place?
I keep thinking, how, for example, would a single dad handle things like his daughter menstruating for the first time? Or maybe the daughter is at an age when she’s beginning to take interest in the opposite sex, getting her heart broken and having crying spells–all those things that guys find somewhat corny and melodramatic? How would he react to being bombarded with questions about fashion and cosmetics?
I asked a man I know, John, who has been a single dad since his wife died of cervical cancer when their twin daughters were five years old. The girls are now 21 and looking happy and well. He had a hard time being a single dad at first, he confided. As a medical representative, he was often assigned to other cities and his job kept him away from home for long periods of time. When his wife died, he was able to look for a job closer to home but he felt saddled with the responsibility of raising two daughters. It was especially tough at feeding and sleeping times when the girls would both throw tantrums and cry at the same time.
To make them calm down, he would speak to them softly and gently coax them to eat their food. He avoided raising his voice to them as much as possible because the first time he did that he only succeeded in making the children more agitated. He learned to prepare healthy and delicious meals for them. At bedtime, he would sit by the bed and read them stories.
When it comes to disciplining children, consistency and leading by example is the key, he said. He used to curse like a sailor, but when he heard the girls imitating him he knew he had to ditch the habit.
John also said it was important to him that his two daughters grow up with access to the kind of emotional support he knew only those of the same sex could provide. Lucky for him, his two girls were close to their aunts, his sisters. It is with these women that the girls confided the first time they had their period, the puberty-related changes in their bodies, their problems with dating boys and beyond. And John? Well, he’s looking forward to getting married the second time around soon.
Single parenting is never easy, whether you’re a single mom or a single dad. Having the necessary support systems in place is one way to ensure that you survive the “ordeal” with your sanity intact.
[author] [author_info]About the Author
Tabitha Gordon works for an Australian online site, Hookmeup Online. Tabitha writes about a variety of topics relating to online dating sites, advice for single parents and online dating site reviews.[/author_info][/author]