Help for single dads

Some of the messages we receive most often are from single dads that are having a tough time figuring out this parenting thing without the help of a partner (as if it wasn’t hard enough with two people working on it — I can’t imagine doing it on my own and give enormous respect to both single dads and single moms). So for the next question in our Ask a Dad series, we asked our dads-only group:

What advice would you give to a single dad having a tough time (or to a single dad in general)?

I know that this group of guys is a phenomenal group, but I have to say that the answers this week are particularly good:

“Hey life can be hard either way, married or single; I have been married and am now a single dad. Yes it is difficult, but either way, in either situation, know that you still have to deal with some sort of difficulty. If you are a good dad and love your kids and want what is best for them no matter what — then it won’t and doesn’t matter how difficult things get; you will do what you need to and what you have to because of your love for them.”

“During a separation and through tough times, always remember that it’s the kids that are most important. Never talk bad about the other parent in front of the kids, no matter what you have been through. And remember — rough times don’t last forever.”

“Being a single dad with my kids every weekend doesn’t leave a lot of personal time, but that’s okay because the kids come first no matter what. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so stay positive — that is the best advice I can give”

“Being a single parent is not the easiest, but definitely not the hardest part of life. You get to a point where you work all week and then on the weekend you have your kids, so you start to feel like you have no time to yourself. But the truth is you do. If you need a break, you can take a day off work when you don’t have your children or get a relative to watch them for one day (just don’t over do it). As a single parent, I always recommend doing activities with your kids: going to the park, a day trip to the zoo, painting with watercolors. There are a few indoor amusement parks that have extra security to keep an eye on kids so you can feel more relaxed. My kids are small, so I know it’s a hassle, but once you’re having fun and see them so happy — well, it just takes all the frustration away. Also, don’t ever be afraid or embarrassed to have fun with your kids. I am 34 years old, and I go down the slide with my kids at the park, get on the swings, and play sand castle with them. Once your inner child comes out you will enjoy everything a lot more. And one last thing: find friends with kids the same age as yours; it will be a lot more fun hanging out and gives you a little extra break.” -Gus Arranaga

“I am not a single dad, but I watched my parents battle for 15 years. Both parents need to openly express love and respect for one another while the child is present. Maintain a positive influence and a calm attitude for the kids.”

“The biggest struggle I had was learning to co-parent. It took four years to build a stable partnership with my ex, but it’s been the best thing we’ve done for our kids yet. Keep each other updated, talk on a regular basis about the kids, and if you can get to a place where you can be around each other, then throw birthdays parties together. Let the kids know that mom AND dad will always be there. Just because you’re not together doesn’t mean that working as a team should stop. And be prepared to add other co-parents to the mix. My ex is married with another child now, and at first, I’ll admit, I didn’t like the guy. I thought he was an oddball, but my kids love him — he respects my position as a dad, and I respect his as a stepdad. He is just as much a part of the team because he is helping to raise them. The goal is that even though the places the kids lay their heads down at night may vary, the life they live is a stable one.” -Chris Turner

“It doesn’t matter how hard life is, how many struggles you’re going through, how much stress you are under; the number one thing to remember is that if life is a struggle now, it’s only pushing you to be better in the future. Always remember to keep your head up and don’t let the opinions of other sailors sink your own ship. There is nothing wrong with being a single parent — sometimes good things fall apart so greater things can come together. Remember that it doesn’t matter what car you drive, what your house looks like, how much money you make; your children love you for the person you are in your heart and will love you no matter what situation life may throw at you. So it’s important to handle those situations with strength and grace.”

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Ethan Ruzzano Written by:

Ethan is a former musician and artist who is in love with being a dad. He balances his time between family, work and his other passions. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Casie and daughter, Olivia.


  1. Avatar
    August 18

    I am new to this site. I actually found out about it by reading a Facebook post that a single mother I know had made. I’m a single father to two beautiful daughters ages 6 and 8. I’ve been a single parent for just over 4 years now, and almost a year ago my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer.
    Single parenting is hard enough. Then to embark on a 3 year chemotherapy plan with nobody standing behind you except your healthy kindergartener has been a real life changing event. We as a family are getting through, but some days I feel all hope is lost. I’m very excited to have found this site and hope to contribute as well as take something away.

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