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The Strange Benefit of Single Parenting


This is going to sound strange. It certainly feels strange to have it come off my fingers onto the page.

There are days being a single parent is easier.

Now, wait, wait . . . I hear you saying it already. “But Dave, you write this column talking all the time about how hard it is! You don’t have that woman’s touch! You don’t have the softness, you had to learn to listen for god’s sake! You’re a guy! Guy’s don’t listen!”

All that is true.

I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone, don’t get me wrong. My wife passed away at the age of 40 in 2011. The last thing I said to her as the life was leaving her body in the hospital was that I just couldn’t do this without her. At the time, in my heart, I thought this to be an absolute certainty. I didn’t wash the clothes, didn’t know when our daughter should consider seeing an OB/GYN, none of that. I had little boys that had a parent that thought, at best, he’d now be okay at being a dad, and if he’s lucky, mediocre at best at being a mom. 

I made my mistakes, sure. Things were hard, and harder still since you’re dealing with kids who remember having a mom and now don’t. I get that. Therapy was involved. Indulgence in some ways as well. We found a way through, though, and it’s not perfect: my kids don’t have as many friends over or tend to want to hang out at the house; my job and commute have my weekdays being longer than most. Still, I don’t think things are too horrible.

I am around, though, other single parents, some of them single parents due to divorce.  These parents either face the prospect of seeing their kids only occasionally, parenting with the ex-husband/wife on a 50/50 basis, or worse yet . . . co-parenting with an ex from what was at best a volatile divorce and even more volatile . . . well, divorce.

So, how could there possibly be advantages of one over another?

Related: Single Mom Slice of Life: Into the Gym, Out of My Head

I said therapy was involved. I took my son to a therapist. I had no one to challenge that decision. No one to tell me they don’t like therapy, that the therapist I chose was wrong, it just was. 

When it comes to discipline? My house isn’t a democracy, it’s a dictatorship . . . and I’m dictator for 18 years. Maybe more. When my child raises their voice at me, I can yell back that they need to show me more respect, even if I’m wrong. There’s no “mommy shopping” on punishments. What I say goes. When you know you could totally mess things up by doing that, it’s hard to not have someone to bounce decisions off to make sure you’re right. But when you come to accept it . . . it’s kind of freeing, actually.

I have my kids 24/7. Period. When I started dating, the line was that our kids came first, no exceptions. But here’s the thing . . . I have my kids 24/7! I don’t share custody. I have to balance the amount of time I spend away from the kids, but since I see them all the time, it’s easier for me to say “I’m going out” as long as there’s nobody with other plans or having a sleepover.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend I or any single parent has it easy. There are detriments to having kids 24/7 too. But when you’re parenting by yourself, so to speak, you take the wins when you can get them.

What about you? Do you have benefits or detriments with your situation?