7 Wins for the Hyper-Focused Single Parent

WHOLE-driving

This direct approach to parenting, as a single parent, gives you additional motivation to do it right.

There are some things about parenting after divorce that are easier and more focused. When my kids are with me, on my nights and weekends, I let every other priority drop from my life. My connection and caring of them are my priority. And perhaps this is why I haven’t been in heavy pursuit of a relationship since my divorce, four years ago. I’d like one, but I’m not willing to trade-off any of the focus on my time with my son and daughter.

There are a number of benefits to single parenting, from the relationship standpoint.

  1. The time you do get is more intentional (even though you don’t get as much time)
  2. When you are the ON parent every item of their lives, every request they have, comes to you
  3. You are always excited to see them, and as long as things are copacetic, they are excited to see you as well (there is no complacency or cynicism in our lives)
  4. By having the responsibility for 100% of the parenting there are very few distractions or opportunities for goofing off
  5. You don’t have to negotiate any of the parenting decisions
  6. Under your influence you can see how they thrive under a more-positive approach to life
  7. In the OFF times you think of things you want to share with them (absence makes the heart grow more focused)

So while my kids are with me, like this weekend, I thrive on doing the errands and chores of their daily lives. When I was married, it was often a negotiation. “You take them to Michael’s for their school project stuff, while I make dinner.” When you don’t have that other parent around, things are much more simple. Kids need something, you provide it.

I am a happy single dad. At some point, I might be a happy dad-in-a-relationship as well, but for now, my kids are enough.

It is this direct approach to parenting, as a single parent, that gives you additional motivation to do it right. Even as I am driving my daughter one place for a movie, and one hour later, taking my son for lunch and browsing possible birthday presents for him (build-your-own-computer) I am aware of how lucky I am to have them with me.

I don’t resent or complain (internally) about a single thing. Sure, I razz my daughter about the songs she selects on the radio as we’re driving around (Um… Iggy, no!) but she knows our connection is solid. And she also knows that if she needs something (not just wants it – like a new Lululemon top) I will get it.

As a single parent you have to deal with misses as well. Most weekends we have to drop by their mom’s house at least once for something they left behind. And sometimes as a threesome we have a hard time deciding where to go for dinner, or what to cook, or who gets to sit in the front seat of the car. But the general mode of life with dad is positive and happy. I am *so* happy to have them on the days and nights I am afforded, that there is little room for complaints or nagging.

Of course, there are some down sides as well. This afternoon, I’ve heard the same CD three times over today as I’ve been shuffling my kids back and forth. And I’ve still got one last trip to go. But my approach and attitude is rooted in an unwavering enthusiasm. I am a happy single dad. At some point, I might be a happy dad-in-a-relationship as well, but for now, my kids are enough. And my time with them is undivided by any other requirement or request.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

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image: drive, kyle may, creative commons usage

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