The internet is a brilliant place. Some corners of it are a little bit weird, but for every corner filled with pictures of cows in feather boas, there is another which is full of supportive people helping each other out.
Since becoming a single dad I’ve joined a number of communities online to help me through. Some have been a place to rant, to share the pain and to simply shout into the void. Other places have been a little more focused on the positives, on the joys of being a dad, single or not, and places for sharing ideas for all manner of things single parents need to know.
However, I’ve discovered a rather unhealthy aspect of some single dad groups which I’m sure are reflected perfectly in single mum groups. It’s entirely understandable considering that few of them will have actively chosen to be single dads, and many will be trying to feel better about their lives or their decisions, but too many single dads hate women.
Okay, perhaps hate is too strong a word, but few trust them. I’d say at least half of the posts, other than introductory posts, are of guys either slagging off their ex-partners or swearing off women altogether.
A few brave dads every now and then put their heads above the parapets and ask for advice when it comes to dating. How do other dads fit it in? When should they introduce their new partners to their kids? What are the risks? How do they make blended families work?
For sure, they do get some good advice, but all too many of my fellow single dads come back with variations on the following:
“I could never date – all women are cheating, lying bitches. Dating is just bullshit.”
“I’m parking dating until my kids are out of college. They’re three and five now, so it’ll be a while.”
“I’ve got no time nor interest in dating; my entire world is my children from now on. If you’re dating then you’re not focusing enough on them.”
While these aren’t exact quotes (to share quotes from private groups would be an invasion of privacy after all), they are indicative of the feelings many single dads have. The constant refrain is a version of “I was hurt by a woman before and therefore I’m not going to let any of them hurt me again”.
I can’t begin to say how sad that makes me for them. They rail against society thinking all men are poor dads and dickheads, while saying that all women must be the same as the worst examples of their gender. And worse, they warn other dads that dating is not only a bad idea but that it makes them worse dads for splitting their focus.
That viewpoint is abhorrent to me. I am no less a good dad merely due to the fact that I want to find an adult woman to enjoy my time with. I am a man who thrives as part of a couple, who simply feels better when he has someone else in his life and someone to do grown-up things with. To say that wanting more of that makes me less of a dad is not only wrong but offensive.
I have my children for half my time, but the other half is totally mine to do with as I please. I don’t intend to sit moping indoors by myself, counting down the minutes until my house gets filled with the noise of four kids making mess. Once my house is in an acceptably tidy state I want to go out, see people, fill my life and make some new memories with attractive, interesting women. And what’s wrong with that?!
Yes, some women are evil. Some are heartless, cheating, two-timing bitches who deserve the very worst that karma can do to them; but not all of them. Some might indeed hurt you; but not all of them. Some might not be able to handle you having kids; but not all of them.
If you choose to focus more on sex than your children then that is YOUR choice and not that of the woman you are seeing. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to manage a love life and being a single parent. Anyone who says otherwise is simply not in that place yet themselves.
By all means, own that status. Make that choice for you. Swear off women for the next decade or two and devote yourself to your little ones. But don’t put down those of us who think differently, and don’t dare lead those who are dipping their toes in the dating waters away from something which might bring them grown-up happiness. Your life isn’t their life. Support your fellow dads doing something positive and taking control of their lives.
Support your fellow single dads. Don’t make them feel guilty for wanting a cuddle.