A Single Dad’s Guide to Fatherhood
I am a full-fledged single dad. I have two daughters, a teaching career and a wife who is in the United States trying her luck to land a decent job and with a new boyfriend. I am still hoping that she’d come back to us, and if you are reading this me and our kids will wait for you.
Karma dealt a huge blow to me. Mistakes and bad decisions caused damage that can take a thousand years to repair. Hurt was inevitable and I cried a thousand buckets before I got back up. Up until now it stings a little bit, but hey, what’s done is done. If you are a single parent and a father for that matter, you are not alone. Remember that whatever mistakes you have made there is always forgiveness. Regardless of who made the error, learn how to forgive.
She may not come back but hell; she is not the only person in the world. If you have your kids with you, focus on them. They are your world now. Here are a few tips on how you can deal with life living as a single dad.
Leave your kids out of your problem.
Spare your kids the trauma. Four, five and six year olds can feel that there is something wrong in the family. Shield them from the trauma.
Do not lie to your kids.
They can also sense if you are lying to them. Tell them anything that is truthful. Try to dig for something that is actually true and which they can digest. Do not tell them anything about your problems.
Let them talk to their mom.
No matter how painful it is to you having to let your kids talk to their mom, we need not to deprive them of that “maternal” love. Nothing beats a mother’s care and love, and it’s their mom’s right to give that love. I used to deprive my wife of those small talks to my kids until I realized that what I am doing was destructive to our children.
Have fun with your kids.
Bond with them, go to parks, concerts, basketball games, and video game arcades, cook together, attend PTA meetings and their school gatherings, do role plays. I have two daughters and we often play kings and princesses. Remember the McDonald’s TV advertisement? Been there, done that!. Do anything fun with them. Make lasting memories because they will cherish those memories even after you’re six feet under and when they have families of their own.
You are their mom and their dad.
Learn how to cook, wash and iron clothes, go to the pediatrician, shop for groceries, shop toddler and kids’ clothes and underpants and other necessities.
Realize that your social life will decrease.
Put your social life aside for the meantime. Your friends will understand and keep in mind that when your kids reach their teen years they will not want you tagging along with them. If possible go get extra hours of work, but be mindful that you have to give more time to your kids. So put that ice cold bottle of Pilsen down and start shaking those baby bottles. Your kids need you.
Teach them to put family first.
Your marital status may not be in good standing but nevertheless teach your kids to value family. Teach them to respect their grandparents, teach them how to love their siblings, teach them how to love you. Be a good role model to them.
Teach them to pray.
It doesn’t matter what your religion is. Teach them to pray. Tell them someone high and mighty is there to protect you and them. Tell them to pray for their mom. You as well should be heard by your kids praying for your wife. Prayer builds hope and praying builds respect to other people’s beliefs.
Be independent. Face it. Your wife is gone. You’re alone. Learn how to go around things. Be a man. Man up or else pupulutin sa kang-kungan mga anak mo! Be brave and learn how to open up to your own dad. Learn to cry like a little boy. It is actually forgivable if you go back to your momma and tell her that you’re hurting. You are only human. Crying makes us men stronger. You need to be strong because you will use that strength to protect your kids.
Be hopeful that in time everything will be ok. It is alright to hope that your wife will comeback but also expect the possibility that she won’t. Be hopeful that in the near future your kids will become doctors, lawyers, senators or even the first Filipino astronaut. Dream and dream big.
Are you a single dad? What are the lessons you can share to other single fathers out there?
Jonathan Espiritu is a college professor and a registered nutritionist-dietitian by profession. He is a dad to two little princesses and a tattoo enthusiast. He is also a fan of John Lloyd Cruz.
[Photo credit: The Weinstein Company]