Single Mom: Why Include Dad in your Child’s Life?
Are you a single mom and think the biological father of your baby isn’t worthy to be a part of your child’s life? He isn’t responsible, has a bad lifestyle or maybe he cheated on you? Maybe the dad isn’t stepping up to the plate as a parent, or perhaps you are just plain mad at him for how he treated you when you were together. No matter what you think of your little one’s father, research shows that unless Dad is abusive or dangerous, he has an important role to play in the life of your son or daughter.
A relationship with Dad is essential for your child’s self-esteem
A father is very important to his children. Have you ever listened to small children at a park or during recess? Their conversations often includes bragging about how amazing their dads are, and the kids even make up obvious lies about how amazing their dads are.
Child 1: “My Daddy is a policeman. He fights bad guys.”
Child 2: “Well, my Daddy is a fireman. He gets to drive a big fire-truck!”
Child 1: “My Dad gets to drive a police car super fast, and he gets to shoot people!”
Child 2: “My Dad just saved ten hundred million people from a giant fire, and the fire didn’t even hurt him!”
Child 3 (doesn’t know who his dad is): “My Daddy is the strongest ever. He could beat all your dads up!”
Children instinctively find self-esteem and pride from having a dad. Even the wise king Solomon from the Bible observed this when he said, “…the glory of children is their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6. Kids without involved fathers have a hole where that pride and sense of identity from their father should be.
Kids without dads often engage in risky behaviors and make poor choices.
The statistics are shocking. According to Fathers in the Field, a mentoring program for fatherless boys, children without fathers account for:
- 63% of youth suicides
- 71% of pregnant teens
- 90% of runaway or homeless kids
- 85% of youth in prisons
- 71% of high school dropouts
- 75% of teens in drug treatment programs.
Check out The Fatherless Generation website for more statistics about fatherless children.
Kid’s with an involved dad have a higher sense of well-being.
Fathers play a huge role (check out this research) in the financial security of the family and in the cognitive, social, and emotional development of their children. According to Ronald Rohner, the director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut, “Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers.”
While Dad may not physically live in the home, he can visit, call, write, and play an active role in parenting his child. Children who know their father loves them do better in all areas of life.
Make an Effort to Include Dad
Some dads are excited and take the initiative to see and interact with their kids. Many, however, struggle for a number of reasons. Here are some reasons Dad may not be involved and some tips for moms:
He may be angry with you: Breakups are hard, often leading to hurt feelings and anger. Be sure to let him know this isn’t about the two of you, this is about the children. Let him know you want to enable him to have a great relationship with his kids. Try to keep the conversations free of accusations and harsh words. Focus on setting up a parenting plan for the best interests of the children.
He may have doubts that the child is his: You may know he is the dad (or maybe you don’t), however a man needs to know for certain the child is his. A paternity test can help ease his mind and erase any lingering doubts. There are several labs and test brands available (Here is one brand that you can buy at Walmart). Some tests need to be done in a special way for legal purposes, so if the results are needed for court, check with the company prior to testing to have it done correctly.
He might feel inadequate as a parent: Encourage him to spend time with his child. Let him hold the baby and change the diapers. Don’t grab baby back as soon as he or she cries. Dad needs to know he can be a good parent. Allow him to spend time alone with the kids. Communicate schedules and routines, but don’t nag about his parenting style. Let him develop his own unique relationship with the kids. This isn’t a competition so you don’t have to one-up him in your parenting abilities. If he feels competent as a Dad, he will want to spend more time with his kids.
He may think he is not needed or wanted: Show him the statistics about fatherless children. He needs to know he is vital for the growth and development of his kids. The relationships he develops with his children do make a difference for their entire future.
He may be angry at the intrusion of children in his life and want nothing to do with his kids: You can’t force him to be a good dad. You can’t make him visit his children. Don’t give up on him…he may mature in the future and be able to take an active role. Be sure to get a child custody and support order. Both parents are required by law to help support the children. Find a male mentor or role model to spend time with your children if dad won’t or can’t participate in their lives. Family members like grandpas or uncles can help if Dad is absent. Programs like Big Brothers and Father’s in the Field can help provide a caring male role model.
This Father’s Day
Father’s Day is coming this Sunday, and it is a great reminder to include Dad in your children’s lives. Let the kids enjoy the day with their dad. And, if that’s not possible, allow them to spend time with grandparents, friends, or others who can speak positively into lives of your kids. Remember the male role model plays an important part in a child’s development, so help your kids become the best they can be with good, positive men in their lives.