The Pocket Guide for Single Dads of Infants
I am so pleased to publish another guest post by Daniel Sherwin. Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.
Being a single father to an infant is a rewarding experience but one that’s full of challenges. From diaper changes, to midnight feedings, to your choice in clothing, there will be naysayers who say you can’t do it. They’re wrong. Here are a few of the most common challenges solo dads with infants face and how you can single-handedly squash the social stigma associated with being a single father.
Nurturing an infant. Traditional gender roles dictate that women nurture and men protect. When you’re a single father, you must learn to do both. The National Fatherhood Initiative explains that nurturing is not simply an act confined to emotions. As a father, you can nurture your baby through laughter, exploration, and physical activity. There may be times when it is difficult, but you can and will learn how to respond to your baby’s cries and react when he or she simply needs to be comforted or shown affection.
Providing stability. Many people strongly believe that a child needs two parents to enjoy stability. This isn’t necessarily true, but it does take work on your part to ensure that your child’s emotional, social, and physical needs are met each and every day. As a single father, you are both caretaker and provider. Chances are, you’re going to have to rely on a friend, family member, or community childcare provider in order to get everything done. And that’s okay. Many dual-parent households also seek childcare during the day or at night to ensure their children’s needs are satisfied.
Living with no sleep. When there are two parents in the home, you have someone else to share midnight diaper duty with. When you don’t have that luxury, you’re going to have to learn to handle sleep deprivation. Today’s Parent offers a number of tips on how to sneak in a little extra sleep, including foregoing late-night television and sleep training. While many suggestions are geared toward a two-parent home, you can adapt many of these recommendations to suit your and your baby’s needs and personality. Many single parents claim that room sharing—not co-sleeping—can actually help you and your baby get the best rest possible. A freestanding bassinet can keep your son or daughter close so you can react to his or her needs without leaving your bedroom.
Staving off stress. Stress and single parenting go hand in hand. But finding ways to manage that stress is paramount to your effectiveness as a father. Believe it or not, your baby can pick up on your emotions. When you are stressed, he or she will likely cry more and sleep less, which will only amplify the issue. Behavioral Wellness & Recovery explains, “It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.”
There are going to be days when you feel like you’re failing your child. And as downhearted as this can make you feel, it’s also one of the best signs that you’re not going to. It shows that you recognize that, like all parents, you have flaws and limits to your abilities. Each time you feel like you’re falling short is a new opportunity to reevaluate your parenting style. Being a parent is a learning process and one that doesn’t end until your baby becomes an adult.
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