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New ways to make parenting easier for single dads


By Lakshmi Singh

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics lone parent families make up about 15% of all families in Australia. Out of these lone parent families, 83% comprised of single mother families with dependants.

Therefore it is not surprising that there are plenty of resources aimed at single mothers to help make their job of parenting solo a bit easier.

But what about the minority of families where the only parent is a dad? Or where there is an arrangement of shared care? Does the father have enough resources to help him parent his children? And is this publicly acknowledged and discussed amongst single fathers?

Relationship counsellor Christina Spaccavento says that there are general resources out there aimed at both genders to help make parenting easier. However, there aren’t many programs aimed squarely at helping dads, solo or not.

And there is a need for fathers who are divorced or separated to have these skills as more of them are finding they are spending significant time with their children, she says.

Spaccavento decided to fill this hole and recently started a fathering skills course aimed at helping dads figure out what they want to achieve for themselves, their children and their families. She teaches confidence building and communication skills along with appropriate tools and techniques to manage their children’s behaviour.

“There’s a change in the trends now with many dads taking a more active role in parenting their children. In addition I think many single dads are out there are working just as hard and facing just as many challenges that we see a traditional single mum face,” she says.

“They are not just financial providers any more. They need to be there for their kids emotionally, support them at school, discipline them, be a role-model and instil them with a good sense of self-esteem. All while trying to manage a work-life balance and possibly even introduce new partners.”

When you see what a modern single dad has on his plate, Spaccavento believes that single dads deserve the same amount of sympathy and support that society traditionally offers to single mums.

Furthermore, when a single dad is better equipped in his parenting role there are often benefits for his former partner – freeing her more time to herself to pursue her other interests or even just take a break.

Kim Townsend, founder of Bucket List coaching and mother of three, says that she and her ex-husband have a shared care arrangement and the fact that he is so involved in the kids’ lives has made it easier for her.

“This means that I don’t have to worry about whether the kids are being appropriately looked after and this gives me peace of mind,” she says.

Townsend says the capable and responsible father her ex-husband is, has allowed her to go on a journey of self-discovery rather than feel like “just a mum”. She started her life coaching business helping women rediscover themselves, after her divorce and can rely on her ex-husband to take over the parenting role should she need to spend extra time on her work.

Townsend is also appreciative of the fact that her children have a father who wanted to be involved.

Regardless of whether their partners appreciate their effort or not, there is no doubt that fathers being involved in their children’s lives is very beneficial for them.

And the fact that fathers are readily embracing their parenting role means that this is good news for separated and divorced families everywhere.

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Lakshmi Singh - to view all of Lakshmi's blog post click here

Lakshmi Singh is a freelance writer and mother of two young children, attempting to live a sane life in Sydney, Australia. When she is not busy chasing small people around the house, she is typing away furiously, doing endless loads of laundry or dishes, and organizing the family's events like her life depended on it. You can learn more about her crazy life by following her on twitter.