Single dads finding strength through hardship
The challenges of being a single dad can provide valuable experiences, says Marlon Abrahams.
A certain Presidential Portrait stole the headlines this week and I happened to be at the eTV studios when they “miraculously” managed to catch the defacing of the painting on camera. Representatives of other networks were wondering (on Facebook) if the whole thing was staged… Anyway so there I was in the waiting room at eTV together with Joey Rasdien (SA stand-up comedian, actor and ace single dad), Spencer Kleyn (single dad and author), Gary da Silva (spokesman for Fathers 4 Justice), Mbuyiselo Botha (Sonke Gender Justice Network) and Dr Adele Romanis (a shrink who specialises in communication skills between couples). We were all there to shed light on the good work we’re doing in the area of Single Dad parenting. We all shared our perspectives and half-way into it I thought to myself, isn’t this getting a bit old now? Sounds like a bit of old hat doesn’t it? Well I’m glad I went there to get a kick up the backside. It soon became apparent that not enough is being done to create awareness of the plight of single dads.
Not all single dads are coping
That same day I received this email:
I am so happy to have reconnected with you. In fact only a few weeks ago I went through the article you had written. The last two years have been hectic but I never lost focus on what was important – my son David*. His mother has been extremely selfish but I never let her get to me. I always made sure I saw David when I was scheduled to see him and I always made sure I had fun with him. He is now two years and four months and we have a great relationship. In fact, I could not have asked for a better relationship with him. As soon as I accepted my current position in Durban his mother decided not to move. You will remember that initially she was the one who suggested we move. But I took it in my stride and travelled for eight months every alternative weekend to Johannesburg to see David. About a year ago she finally made a decision to move to Durban. Thanks to the Office of the Family Advocate and the courts, I see David every Wednesday from 1pm and take time off from work to spend with him. I also see him every alternative weekend. There were times when things did seem rather bleak but I’m glad I stuck it out and kept the focus on David. Like you, I have also found out that being a single dad is possible and highly rewarding. Thank you for all the encouragement you gave me. You were a beacon of hope in a very dark time.”
*Names have been changed for privacy.
Single dads, persevering and giving hope
I wanted to share this with all of you because from my discussions with my fellow guests on eTV’s Great Expectations it is very clear that there are many, many men who are battling with being single parents. The issues they have to deal with range from self-inflicted guilt, perceived inadequacies as a man in relation to parental duties, emotional baggage from the relationship with the ex and many more.
The kids come first, always
Those of us, on the show, have pretty much slayed our demons in those areas and are now in a position to share and provide hope to other men who have a real interest in raising their kids. I came upon a website called www.section35.co.za. Please go have a look at it, it has the scariest statistics about the effects of kids who grow up without fathers.
The blame game is over: The practice of ex-partners using their kids as pawns is deplorable and manipulative. The interest of the kid has to come first and we need to create more and more awareness and provide more and more assistance to fathers who really want to be there for their kids.
Read more by Marlon Abrahams
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What parenting lessons have you learned after going through difficult times?