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Because family life matters

Being a single parent dad – Am I a failure?

Meet Jon, one of our single parent support group dads.

He recently agreed to share a little of his story about being a single parent and some of the emotions that, as a father, he struggled with the most.

“My name is Jon, I’m a plasterer and I was a single parent for 8 years. I was the primary caregiver to my four boys aged between 7 and 12. We had no help. My mother had Multiple Sclerosis and wasn’t capable of helping and my father had passed away. I coped by encouraging the boys to do their bit. I explained to them that I couldn’t work and be ‘Mum’ without help and if I stopped working we would have nothing. So they did their bit and have all grown into fine young men who can all cook and clean.

The problems I faced are the same as a single mother’s- the burden of running the household, times of boredom, loneliness, or missing adult interaction.  However, I think men and women are very different! Women can have a great capacity to love, but some men can find it hard to express love.  When a relationship falls apart one of the main feelings for a man is a sense of failure and with that, a loss of respect. He feels that he hasn’t the ability to keep the family together and worries about what the world around him thinks. Has he lost the respect of his parents, friends, workmates, church and even his children? Of course, there are other emotions and insecurities too, but this feeling is the one I would highlight.”

Jon’s emotions and reactions in becoming a single parent are common. One of our biggest tips to help combat some of these negative thoughts and emotions for single parents is to recognise your needs, consider them important, and find ways to fulfil them. Don’t be afraid to admit your feelings, especially when you’re feeling low, and don’t be afraid to keep reaching out to friends and family even if it may be difficult. One single dad shared with us that one of his mates used to come over once a week and just watch TV with him.  They actually hardly ever spoke, but just having the company of a friend made such a difference to him.

Being a single dad is not easy.

You may have a gruelling schedule where you are juggling work and home life.  You may be tired and the kids may be acting up, or you may be desperately trying to keep a relationship going with your children from a distance after a break up when you no longer live with them, but don’t give up. There is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s important to remember that your children think the world of you even if you do not see the fruit of your labour straight away. One man said, “My dad is amazing, he is my hero and someone I look up to.  He raised us totally on his own. Now that I am a parent, I really appreciate and understand how much he did for us when we were growing up.”

Despite feeling like it, Jon is most certainly not alone, and neither are you. As you read this article, you are joining with thousands of other single parents around the country. Care for the Family is also here for you and we hope that the support we can offer can help ease the burdens you may be carrying. For all the dads out there, we want to cheer you on and encourage you keep doing what you’re doing, because you are doing a great job!

If you are a single parent dad and would like to share more about your experiences or want to get in touch, we would love to hear from you. Please email Kat.Seney@cff.org.uk.