1. You’re more valuable than ever.

It’s so easy to fall into the “poor me, I’m just a single dad” attitude. Everything around us promotes the stereotype. What words and phrases come to people’s minds when they think of single dads? “Mr. Mom”, “Absentee father,” or “Deadbeat dad.” You never saw yourself this way before you were a single dad, so what makes you any less valuable now? Nothing does. If anything, you’re more valuable now—you’re a stabilizing factor more necessary in your kids’ lives than you ever were.

2. Your time with the kids is valuable.

Oh time. When we were younger, we were always told “you have plenty of time”. At that moment, that statement was right. Time felt very slow as a youth. Though as you get older, time then goes by super-fast. I decided I could either spend the rest of my life feeling down and out or I could do what’s best for me and the kids during the time I have with them.

My time with the kids became the most valuable asset I had for my mental health. I needed to provide for them, I needed to be part of their support team, I needed to be there for them. Never make the excuse “I work too much”. While yes, you must work to provide for your kids, but also make it a priority to spend the time you have with them and make those memories. Those memories will always be what my girls remember, not how much money daddy makes. No career, friends or anything could replace the time spent with your kids.

3. You don’t have to be like mom.

Somehow, single dads are expected to raise kids like their moms do. Do what mom does, but what happens? We fail miserably because it’s not the same. As a single father, raising kids should feel natural, the same as it was when you were together. I will admit, I have taken some similar parenting tips from their mom but also procured my own. Sure, moms have a set way of raising kids, but dads do too as well. Neither way is wrong, just make your way function for the best.

4. Keep your emotions in check.

Whether you have just landed into a new life as a single dad through separation, divorce or bereavement, it happens at a time when you’re least able to cope. You’ve lost the support you once had with that person and the companionship of your partner.

It’s hard to hold it all together. And it’s tough for the kids too.

Of course, it helps to express and share your emotions with them at certain times. But watching you weep every morning probably won’t help them. Depending on their age, you may need to adjust your approach on how you show your emotions. Emotions are a part of being human. You don’t have to necessarily hide them but be cautious.

Try to stay calm in front of your children for the day to day. It can keep everyone happy. Once you are alone, you can then let your emotional river run freely. Just remember, there are always stages to this. Once your past them, you can start to rebuild yourself for a better you which in turn makes you a better parent. Seeking some sort of therapy can be a lifesaver.

5. Never badmouth their mom.

Your children love their mom just as they love you. You might be angry with something she’s said or done but they don’t need to hear those negative words even if she does in front of them. Unfortunately, there have been a few times their mom and I got into an argument in their presence or bad mouthed each other. Again, this plays heavily on how you express your emotions. We aren’t perfect but we try to minimize those arguments as best as we can. Be co-parents in front of them, not David and Goliath. If you are upset about something with their mom, do it in private.

6. Keep being Dad.

No matter what, you are their dad. Be the best one you can be. Teach them about the important things in life. Share what you love. Get to know their friends and be involved. Always ask about how school was (even if they ramble and the story goes on and on and on). My girls love reading books, ask them how the book is. Dance embarrassingly. Scoop them up into big bear hug. Play with them. Be there for them always, because that’s what dads do. To me, my biggest accomplishment is being a dad. I love it and would never trade it for anything.

You got this!