The Best Newly Divorced advice only on SingleDad.com. The Face of the Single Parent Community is changing with more Single Dads involved in the everyday lives of their children. So why are the attitudes and perceptions towards single fathers slow to change?
“Ah, she must be a single Mom. Daily life must be so hard on her; let’s give her the help and attention she surely deserves.” How many times has the single father heard this, similar, or felt these ‘vibes’? It is true single fathers simply do not get a fair shake within the community services, schools, and in general in society. What more men feel is: “Oh! A single father! How did he get the kid(s)? What did he do to trick the court into giving him the kids?” And then there is the, “He’s a guy, he doesn’t/shouldn’t need financial/food/shelter assistance.” Oh, and let us not forget the comments or looks single fathers of girls receive: “That is just wrong for a man to be bringing up a girl all by himself! He must be a pervert or something!”
Whether you like it or not, the social services of most communities, State and County, are run by women, and with this comes an attitude to help those ‘like’ themselves: single mothers, sometimes post-abused women, often times women not receiving child support, or having to continue to fight in court for the child[ren]. So, when a woman walks into an agency, she is determined just by mere fact of having children and being at the agency doors, she is in need, and shall receive some assistance.
For men, it is drastically different. First off, men have a natural compulsion to not reach out for help from anyone but their family. Men have been raised, generally, to take care of things, to make the money for the family, to handle whatever comes their way, while still being the strong shoulder to lean or cry on. Further, when a man walks into an agency for assistance, he is immediately assaulted with ‘looks’ which ask, “What are you doing here?” Fathers have reported this negative attitude in State and community agencies, in school functions and PTA conferences, and within the neighborhood in which they live. Fathers find women are quite open to watching another single mother’s children, but will shun the single father.
Bottom line: Single fathers need the same help single mothers need, but often do not receive it. In many instances, the cost of parenting for the single father (physically, emotionally, financially, and psychologically) can be so taxing; the single father will let the child go back to a home where he knows the best interests of the child are not being served, and often fears the child will suffer at the hands of a step-father/boyfriend[s], a mother on drugs, or simply an unstable mother.
Here are some suggestions from single fathers who have been through these challenges, and have survived them, without giving up:
1. Accept the fact you need assistance: whatever the need is, you need it for the best interest of the child and for you, as the parent. This acceptance does not show the world, or even communicate to anyone who is healthy in mind; you are weak, unable, or lazy. There are many places which offer assistance: walk into these places, with all the paper-work required (much of the time this can be determined by investigating the agencies requirements online before actually going to the agency) and shoulders back. Remember this though, most women in these places have an innate fear of men who raise their voice, or show any anger: it is not logical, but true, so try to keep your emotions in check, so you are not escorted out by security and told not to come back!
In Clark County, Nevada, for instance, the Social Services application is available on line: it has to be filled out by hand, but included on this site is a suggestion of all the documents you may need before a determination of need can be made. One of the documents which would seem obvious, but should not be missed, is a Certified copy of the latest Custody document from the court. Most agencies ask for the copy which has the raised seal on the first or last page.
Remember, food stamps, and many other financial aid offerings are now put on a debit card, so there is not the embarrassing waiting in line while the cashier counts out the food stamps. And, per chance, your area is not this up to date on debit cards, so what! You are buying food for you and your child[ren], what is wrong with that?
2. Be pro-active in getting attention, whether in a school situation, community meeting (e.g. PTA, single partners groups, etc.). Walk in like you belong, because you do. Many men reported after attending a few meetings in many situations, one woman would be the investigator for the group, and come and ask him questions about raising boys. Oh, what can be gleaned from these conversations! It takes perseverance and determination. You are no better than these women; you are no less than any one of them; YOU ARE A SINGLE PARENT!
3. Be seen with your child[ren] often throughout the neighborhood. Do whatever activity is appropriate with your kids (for one man it has changed over the years from simply riding bikes with his daughter, to now going to church with her, and taking her on hikes with other single parents).
4. Start conversations with other single parents: men or women. When you start a conversation with a woman, make sure you don’t act like you are trying to ‘come on’ to her; just be casual. Example for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday: “How are you? Hey, just a question: at what age do kids stop passing the silly box of Valentine cards in class?” Then say thanks and leave it at that! You have asked a valid question about raising a child with regard to a particular function, and basically accepted the offered advice, and walked away. Result: worst case scenario, she is not interested in you as anything more than a neighbor, but you can share a wave and a smile in the morning at the bus stop. If the woman turns a cold shoulder to you, move on: there are lots and lots of single mothers, and even mothers who still stay at home, who would be willing to offer advice. Then there are women who have been burned and just want to stay away from anything that even resembles fire starting equipment!
5. Lastly, get on with your life, even if you have your child[ren] for a day a month, or all the time. The divorce is over, you two didn’t make it together the first time, and statistics are stacked greatly against you in a re-marriage to the same person. Think of the child[ren]. They grow up so fast, so enjoy life with them. Relish in their small joys at school and with playing with friends; wipe away their tears when they fall, or get hurt; and make new friends for you with them by your side, not behind you, but showing the world they are a part of you, your life, and the package that is you.
Admittedly, some of these steps are harder for some than others, and having an unstable custody arrangement is also a challenge. Further, many women are not forced, as men are, to pay child-support. Another avenue you might want to investigate, if you have the time and the inclination, is getting involved in legal or proactive groups for equal rights for single fathers. There are many groups available on the Internet, but remember, above all, don’t get bogged down into the negative of the situation, rise above it, in any way possible, and you and your child[ren] will always benefit from your efforts.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”