Here are some essential tips for new single dads from SingleDad founder RJ Jaramillo.
- Don’t be afraid to Ask for Help. Over the years, my own cell number became a “Universal 411” to many newly divorced and widowed men and it amazed me how many men waited so long to ask for help on many of their new family transition issues. I relate this to my own experience when I was married and feeling like I was responsible for being the “Answer Man” to all family decisions. Being divorced or newly widowed puts you in new, unfamiliar territory. You have to learn to ask for help and not worry about feeling weak or unprepared. The truth I found was that we all have an amazing network of family and friends that is just waiting to help out.
- Get your facts.
- Know your child’s social security number know their birthdates,
- Know your health insurance name and account number
- Store the doctors phone number on your cell.
- Assign an alternative Emergency Contact. This is someone other than you ex-spouse who can be reached as last minute “kid pick up”. Notify your kid’s daycare or school to have that person listed and authorized to pick up. Make sure to ask the contact first and supply them with the necessary information to pick up your kid (they will need ID and possibly an authorization code).
- Educate. Do your kids have your cell number memorized? Do they know who your Emergency Contact is? Explain what the Buddy System. Ensure them that you their safety covered.
- You Set the Emotional Environment Never argue in front of your children with your ex-spouse. Don’t get lured into any confrontation. It’s a very volatile situation and in most cases, you end up saying things that you later regret, (remember, your kids have ears too!) Find the courage and the strength to remind yourself to say, “Now is not a good time to discuss this, can we find some time today to discuss this alone and away from our children?” Make that appointment and keep it! In most cases the break will allow both of you to calm down and work on a resolution.
- Never bad mouth your ex-spouse in front of your children. Despite the injustice you may feel, your children should never be the “jury” to your ongoing challenges. Believe, just believe that there will be a day in the future where the challenges you are facing will work out and karma will be served.
- Make Life Happen…Again. I chose this statement as my company trademarks because it is so important in the life of a single parent. Life will go on and it is important for every single dad to know that they have the choice to create and shape their new life. Stay Healthy, Be Active. Avoid the common pitfalls of over eating, over drinking, physically abusing your body. There is a grieving process that we all go through and it is important to identify those feelings. Just remember, you can accelerate this process by finding a licensed therapist. I felt that the combination of staying physically and emotionally healthy made my process accelerate and I rediscovered my happiness and a new life that I love very much.
- Buy a New Bed and/or Change your Wardrobe. I think it is important to recognize these two areas. If you can’t afford a new bed, then buy new sheets and a new comforter. It’s okay to cherish those memories, but you got to move forward someday… And there is no “SOMEDAY” on any calendar! Same rule applies to the clothes you wear. You may not notice, but we sometimes hang onto some clothes like an old picture. Make the effort to transition your wardrobe and you will not only see a difference, you will feel a difference in yourself.
- Developing a New Social Life. Be aware of your emotional balance. Do you have a balance between your kid time, your career, your family and friends and time for yourself? Are you ready for dating? Be careful of the statistics that work against us and show that we remarry too soon. After his first divorce, the average man remarries within the first 14 months. Those who fall inside the 14 month window have a higher divorce rate than those who waited longer than 14 months. Why? Well, I think we forget to give ourselves permission to just date and make new friends and we forget that we do not have to re-marry right away. I am not condoning either choice; however, what I think every divorced father should practice is the development of emotional balance. The demands on both time and emotional energy can be demanding and your priorities change daily, hourly or to the moment. If you think about it, adding a new marriage brings a whole new set of complexities into the picture. Are you ready? And have you taken enough time to balance your current priorities?
- Know the difference between Alone and Lonely. This was a huge breakthrough for me because I used to think the two words meant the same thing. “You can feel lonely, but you are never alone”. There were times when I just felt so angry and afraid of a lot of life choices I made. This often caused guilt and anxiety and I struggled with being alone. I had the epiphany with my therapist when we were discussing these experiences and I found that I never was alone. I had my family and a huge network of friends that were always there for me at a moments notice. And once I realized it, I utilized it. I practiced better planning on my week and found time to visit friends and pick up activities that were healthy for me to stay busy and surround myself with positive people. I now appreciate my time when I am by myself at home and I am comfortable feeling lonely. I now know that I can pick up the phone at any time and know that I am not alone.
- Laugh, Smile, Re-discover Your Happiness! We often make this transition a long arduous task and forget that “Happiness knows no Boundaries”. We often think in our heads that misery knows no boundaries either! When was the last time you smiled or laughed? I made a commitment to myself and my family to have a home filled with laughter and joy and I knew if it was going to be, it was up to me! Life is too short. Believe that everything happens for a reason and you will rediscover your happiness. Become a “change expert”. Try something new and unfamiliar. Contribute to Singledad.com! Do one thing a day that scares you! Do or Say something funny once a day to your family or co-workers. Be positive. Do not be cynical, critical, condescending. Get active in your community. Read more, watch less TV. I assure you that all things work out in the end. If things are NOT currently working for you that just means you are NOT AT THE END YET!
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!”