Posted 17 May 2019
Gingerbread Fundraising Officer Daniel writes about his experience of growing up in a single parent family, and why he’s taking part in our Virtual Marathon as a tribute to the strength of his parents. On...
Posted 4 October 2017
Rob lives in London with his seven children aged three to 15. He’s been a single dad for almost two years after separating from his wife. He works full-time as a swimming teacher in a local school.
I never dreamt of doing it alone
I’ve been a single parent for nearly two years now, after I separated with my wife. She had got restless and decided to occupy herself by chatting to people online. The chatting soon turned into flirtation and then meeting up in person. When I discovered she had been intimate with a number of people she met online I realised that the relationship was over.
Becoming a single dad was a massive change for me. I’ve never dreamt of doing it alone, I was settled and happy, all I had ever wanted from when I was little was a family. I’d never imagined I’d have such a big family, but when I got married for the second time my partner really wanted children, I wasn’t going to deny her that. It’s been busy working full-time and caring for my children. When I first separated my eldest daughter helped out a lot, but she’s since moved on and so now I get support from an au pair, it’s the only affordable childcare option I have.
Childcare is a big concern
My main concerns when I became a single parent were childcare and money, making sure my kids are cared for properly is a big worry of mine. I have tried to leave my problems at home and not bring them into work, but work have been very sympathetic. My family have also been a big support and help out when they can, but my parents live in Ireland so can only help out now and again. They’ve been here recently for a communion in the family so have been helping with childcare, and they sometimes cover the times between au pairs which is great as it can be stressful. I find it hard to know what help I could get as a single dad. The information is really complicated which makes it really hard to understand.
I don’t get much help from my ex-partner. She provides very little financial support and I don’t always agree with her parenting style. She has now re-partnered and I do have worries about my kids spending time with a man even she doesn’t know that well. He even texts them which I find very odd.
People assume I’m not as capable as a woman
In terms of stigma I’ve faced as a single dad, a lot of people seem to naturally assume it should be the woman who cares for the children. But that is not the case, I’m capable and sometimes it’s better for the children this way. My ex had a lot of difficulties, a problem with alcohol being one. She struggled to organise the kids at times, and I think it was too much for her. I think a father can do just as good a job of raising children as long as your heart in the right place. I’ve had a lot of people say I’m doing well which is encouraging.
It’s not easy though and I have to be the disciplinarian, while their mum gets to be the fun one. That can be hard and sometimes I wonder if it means they prefer spending time with her. But someone has to look after the day-to-day tasks.
Enjoying the here and now
It’s now almost two years since I separated and I do now feel more settled and confident as a single dad. Meeting a new partner isn’t really an option as I share my room with two of my children. But it’s also not the be all and end all. My focus now is to be there for my kids and enjoy their younger years. Life passes you by so quickly so I’m just trying to enjoy the here and now.
My advice to other single dads who are new to it would be to try and be strong and organised! Try and put a brave face on and be strong for your kids, feeling sorry for yourself won’t help. And remember things do get easier, as they say time is the best healer.