As a father’s rights advocate and someone who has been through divorce and now is flying solo raising my kids as a single dad, I end up talking with a lot of men who are going through similar experiences, suddenly finding themselves not just being the father but without the benefit of an often more experienced mom in the picture to help.
It’s daunting. We live in a culture that, like most cultures before us, focuses the nurturing enculturalization on females, so while us boys are playing cowboys and indians, soldiers, ninjas and hunters, girls are learning how to do more domestic tasks with dolls, doll houses, dress up and tea. I believe it’s a nature/nurture thing, actually, and that while it may be politically incorrect, I absolutely see these traits in my children too, with my girls more gentle and sympathetic and my son and his peers ready to rumble but often forgetting that other people are worthy of respect and the benefit of the doubt.
Zoom forward 20, 30 or even 40 years later and it can be quite a shock for a man who has spent much of his adult energy building a career to provide for his family, while his wife has been more focused on the daily needs of their children, to suddenly be flying solo without a safety net. It’s no wonder so many dads flame out in those initial weeks and months of single fatherhood: where the heck are they supposed to have gotten the experience to know how to deal with a colicky baby, a cranky toddler, a sarcastic teen and a belligerent, exhausted tween?
That’s why it’s terrific to see organizations like Denver-based Families First offer classes aimed at helping men learn how to be fathers to their children now that the sometimes huge safety net of mom has been pulled out from under them. No need to shout, no need to hit, no need to be mean to try and create cooperative children. Really, no kidding.
Just check out their Parenting Classes Schedule and you’ll see classes like “Constructive Parenting”, “Parenting with Confidence”, “Appreciating Your Adolescent” and “ABC’s of Parenting”. Dig a bit deeper and they also host a Circle of Parents group entitled “Parenting Tools for Dads” (and another one “Grandparents who fill a parenting role”, and I know of at least one child whose grandparents are raising her in our community)
Families First isn’t unique, and its focus on supporting both English and Spanish speaking parents isn’t unique either. But if you’re just waking up to the reality of being a single parent — and in particular a single father — then a few classes, a book, and a few buddies who can listen to you vent about your %$)%&(& kids driving you crazy then offer a few suggestions can not only save your sanity, but dramatically improve your children’s experience with you and lead to a far better dad/child relationship as they grow up.
And what father doesn’t want a great relationship with their smart, funny, loving children?