Single Parent Series: Am I a Good Enough Father?
This is our fourth story from the Single Parent Series. This single dad reflects on the importance of help, and his own capabilities as a father.
1. How old are you?
2. How long have you been out of your relationship? Were you dating or married?
It's been 17 years since that relationship ended. She isn't Hmong and her parents did not "force marry" us.
3. How long have you been a single parent?
I've been a single parent since my son was 5 months old, so essentially 17 years.
4. How many kids do you have? How old are they? Does their age make it easier or harder?
I have one son and he is 17. Him being a teenager makes many things easier. The manual labor is less, but the mental labor is much more. I don't have to worry about him eating a leggo and I don't have to wash him myself, but I do have to teach him how to be a man (everyday), for example.
5. Do you live close to family? Does that help?
I didn't originally live close to the family that I do now. Now that I do, it's so much easier. He has family around his age that he can be with. Everyone is loving and it makes us both happy. That sounds like an obvious thing that doesn't need to be said, but if you've ever come from somewhere where you didn't have that originally, you'd feel it much more.
6. Who helps you watch your kids if you're working?
He's old enough to be home alone now, but before, I had a younger adult brother that was home with him. Finding a babysitter is much easier when you have family near by.
7. What type of schedule do you have your kids on so you don't go crazy?
I actually schedule around my son's. I have to work 3rd shift. I slept in the morning for a few hours while he was at school, then I woke up to make lunch/dinner and stayed up with him for a bit, then had to go back to sleep before work. The schedule is still similar regardless of COVID-19 quarantine, just more lax on the timing. After his high school, I'd definitely consider 1st or 2nd shift.
8. What are some things you would do if you did not have to worry about being a single parent?
Early in my single parenting life, I would have pursued higher education and chased dreams. I was a single parent early on at 21 so I didn't get to do any of that. It's totally possible, many have done it, but the responsibilities and lack of support made it really difficult.
9. What are some struggles you have gone through being a single parent?
Today, I'm financially comfortable, but in the beginning, managing money was not easy when you barely made enough to get by yourself. Sleep time was also a struggle when you couldn't take turns with anyone. It didn't help that I didn't get financial help from the mother either.
Today, the struggle is more mental. I'm always questioning myself if I'm a good enough father. Do I be more affectionate or do I remain stern? I'm always questioning my capabilities as a father.
10. Any tips you can offer to other single parents?
Please do not bash on your child/children's other parent in front of them. No child wants to hear about how bad their parents are. It will negatively affect their life.
11. How do you feel about making a commitment to someone who does not have children? Why?
There's something to be said about committing to someone with a child as they have experienced the same struggles you have. There is a connection that only they can make with you, but I don't mind committing to a childless person as long as they are caring and know what they're getting into. I guess, you just have to trust in your ability to choose a good person.
12. Are you currently dating? What is it like to date as a single parent?
I'm not currently dating. Finding a babysitter was a common issue. Also, I tried to avoid bringing anyone around my son until the relationship got a bit more serious.
13. What did your family think when you became a single parent?
Not much feedback from my family. I wasn't living with them until a few years later when I moved closer to them.
14. What's the best part of being a single parent?
I really can't think of something that a single parent can do that both can't do better, together. I guess, back when he slept with me, there was more room on the bed mattress, lol.
15. What's the worst part of being a single parent?
The worst part for me was not getting any support, of any kind, from the mother.
16 What do you want people to know and understand what's it's like to be a single parent?
It's really difficult parenting alone. There are a lot of sacrifices that you're going to give up, all by yourself. No partner to share the responsibilities or struggles with. Some of this is relieved if you have supportive friends and family. It's not always a dark tunnel though. Your child will be your light and help keep you sane. Persist and endure, it'll be okay.
To read the additional stories in this Series, click on the links below:
If you are a single parent, and would like to share your story, please email us at kaolee @ thestoryclothshop.com. Thank you for reading along!
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