Wednesday, 1 June 2016

I am a Single Dad, Not an Absent Father

I have been ruthless and have axed a few people on my personal Facebook page.

I’m a believer in the fact that if there is something you don’t repeatedly like seeing then don’t jump on your soapbox but realise that it is your choice to see it and you can easily remove that person.
One of my biggest pet-peeves on Facebook is the meme dad hate. You will see a lot of these flying around where it berates and belittles the role of a dad in comparison to a mum; however, the ones that target Single Dads are the ones that irritate me the most.


In addition to my Facebook clean I experienced, yet again, another out-dated view last week.
We attended the library where we bumped into a single mum friend of the boys mum. The 3 boys were playing nicely when they started discussing when they would see each other next and this was based around the access change over.

The mum then said “Oh, we were discussing this yesterday. How I only let him see his dad every other weekend but you have them during the week. I hope you say thank you to her for it?”
Erm, what?

The meme’s, as well as ignorant minded people, assume that single dads, "deadbeat dads" and absent fathers all equate as one person; I am a Single Dad and not an Absent Father and definitely not a "deadbeat dad" so why would I need to say thank you, they are my children too?
Statistics from ONS (Office for National Statistics) and Gingerbread suggest that there are around 2 million single parents in the UK of which there are around 90 -93% (1.8 million) single mothers.

These same statistics show that 8 % are single dads and 13% of UK families are headed by lone fathers.
There is some distinction that needs to be clarified:

8% of single dads are the lone parent (A lone parent is someone who has sole responsibility for raising a child/ren) and 13% of UK households are headed by a lone parent fathers. The difference here is that 5% of these dads, like me, head a household as a lone parent but have equal access to their children yet still work within a co-parent set-up.
Furthermore, 4% of the lone fathers are in this situation due to being widowed.

In comparison you will find that there are an estimated 24-33% of lone parent mothers that have no interaction with their child’s father.
This is a real grey area however and difficult to truly quantify as there are murky areas such as those fathers who turn up sporadically or pay some maintenance ever time Halleys comet can be seen.

Either way, there are around 500,000 absent fathers in the UK.
The problem is that you hear all these stories through media of fathers walking out. The ones that are constantly being chased for maintenance or, alternatively, decide to sit on their bum, claim benefits, waste their days away just to spite their ex; where actually it is the child that loses out.

I am NOT this person and I hate to be in the same category as them.
Yes, there are lots of different set-ups for co-parenting. You could be a dad who sees their child every other weekend, every weekend and one day during the week, special occasions or, like me, has 50/50 access.

The difference here is that they are REAL fathers and many of which have fought, and at times lost, to have the time that they want with their children. Just how the men that are not biologically a child’s father becomes a REAL dad by setting a template of how a man can be an active father.
Of course there will be the one, or more, that are the exception but those situations and experiences should not automatically cast a shadow over the ones who try their hardest.

I wanted to write something here to break some of that down as well as put the fact that I am called a deadbeat single dad, by some, aside.
I am much more because I am a Father and a Dad:

I am the person that my sons come to when they are sad and want a cuddle.
I am the one who kisses and cuddles them when they have hurt themselves.

I educate and entrust them with knowledge.
I play, fight, laugh and cry with them even when they scream that they hate me.

I cook, clean and take care of them emotionally, physically and financially.
I am here now and always will be there for them in every way.

Single parents come in many shapes and sizes. We don’t all categorise single mums as Vicky Pollards so I think we need to stop the fact that all single dads do the bare minimum with their children. I am sorry for those fabulous Mums who cope and survive, brilliantly might I add, with the ones that do but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are all the same.

I love being a father, more than anything, it just so happens that I am also a single dad.

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