Losing the mother of your children never gets easier, and the transition for any man to become a single dad is a huge challenge.
Many new single dads struggle to know where to start. What should be first on your list, how do you even begin to get your head around the rest?
As an adult, you’ve learnt a handful of coping mechanisms to help you deal with change. But children tend to be completely unprepared. They’ve lost their mother and now must get used to the idea of having their dad as their primary carer.
Before anything else, we want to put your mind at ease when it comes to the funeral. Start early, but don’t rush it. Each decision will trigger more decisions, so take your time. Although you may feel like you’re alone in this, you’re not. You have friends and family around to support you and we advise you find a funeral director that can help you with the practicalities. The right choice will make things a lot easier, taking some of the stress away.
One of the biggest challenges for a single dad is trying to establish new routines when there is no longer another adult at home. From finding different ways to do the food shop, how to plan meals more efficiently to keep on top of the housework – there is a lot of organising to do, even for the modern man who did his fair share of the household duties.
We suggest you create a family calendar, noting down bill due dates, school term times, family events, activity classes, birthdays and anything else that’s important. Be sure to look at it every night so you don’t forget anything. Your children will be finding things difficult, but keeping their routine the same will give them some familiarity in everyday life.
In a single family keeping the communication open can be difficult. While it’s tempting to bottle things up, it’s important to talk about your emotions to help children understand how to cope with their feelings. Talking this through won’t be easy – but giving children the chance to articulate their emotions when they are good and ready is essential.
Many dads are intimidated by the idea of having to raise a daughter without a mother. It’s a challenge, for sure, but doable if you focus on her specific needs. Don’t go at it alone, a grandmother, aunt, family friend or other family members can help to provide a female role model if this is something you struggle with. They can act as a mentor helping your daughter reconnect to the world. But, make sure you’re involved in her life, she needs to feel your support. Attend her school events, be around the house when she has friends over. Make opportunities to be together, and your relationship will grow.
Single fatherhood is going to be hard, but becoming a single dad as a result of the death of your spouse is emotionally charged and will face you with a series of challenges. Dealing with your own grief and helping your children is not easy. Learn how other widowed fathers have handled the transition.
But remember, you’re not expected to take all of this on alone and should never feel guilty about asking for help. Nobody is perfect, so try to keep the guilt at bay. Focus on setting up and organising your family to the best of your ability and provide security, stability and the comfort you all crave and deserve.