Figuring it out on his own
Even though single dad of four Jason VandeVoorde didn't want to be married to his kids' mother anymore, he never wanted to stop being a dad. He says, "I think in general, society views a single dad as a parent who really is not involved and doesn't care about the children as much as the other parent."
But he is disproving that stereotype every day. Jason says, "I rush, rush, rush in the morning to make sure everyone is dressed and fed, lunches are made, homework is in the backpacks and we are out the door to be at school on time."
The rewards of his hard work come in the form of love from his kids, however. He adds, "I'm a very active parent. I tell my kids I love them many, many times a day, I play with my kids every day they are with me, I listen to them, I parent them — and they tell me how much they love me every day as well."
Leading the charge
Back in 1975, it was practically unheard of for the father to gain custody of his child when a marriage split, but that was the case for Dr. Bob Zaslavsky and his daughter Cordelia. He believes that "single fathers are — even today — an invisible minority."
When he was raising his daughter, now an adult with two children of her own, Bob says, "I did find unexpected reactions to my status." When his daughter was in middle school, Bob says, "I fought with mixed success to have her school change the title "Homeroom Mother" to "Homeroom Parent," eventually taking my case all the way up to the superintendent of schools."
However, Bob doesn't necessarily feel that fathers or mothers for that matter get the credit they deserve. He asks, "Should any parent receive credit for being a parent?" We think so, Bob!
Times are a-changin'
David Bakke, editor at Money Crashers Personal Finance, and single dad of one, says, "For a long time, people have looked at single fathers as though they just couldn't live up to the demands of marriage and fatherhood. What isn't considered is that many men become single dads for reasons out of their control, such as the infidelity of their partner. As more dads are raising kids on their own (numbers have risen more than 60 percent in just the last 10 years), society is becoming more accepting of single fathers who demonstrate that they can effectively raise children."
He adds that facts prove that deadbeat dads are becoming a thing of the past, saying, "As more and more fathers are choosing to be involved in their kids' lives (the percentage of deadbeat dads decreased from 37 percent to 29 percent from 1976 to 2002), I think that now single dads are getting the credit they deserve."
Despite the fact that the mother of his child has primary custody, David ensures that he plays a major role in his son's life and that his son stays with him at least three nights a week. A few years ago, he even quit his day job to start his own business so he can spend more time with his son. Swoon!
Dads need emotional support, too!
In 1984, Ralph Press lost his wife to two aneurysms when their son was less than two years old. Though it's been almost 30 years, he doesn't feel that much has changed when it comes to society's views on single dads.
He says, "Certain elements of society always seemed to be against the concept of a single father or single parent in general while others were more sympathetic." He adds, I don't see a lot being reported on single dads so I would have to say that they do not receive the credit they deserve. There seems to be an overemphasis on single moms but not single dads."
Ralph feels that some things have changed however — he says, "Today I would say there are many more avenues of emotional support for single fathers."
When single dad and actor Domiziano Arcangeli welcomed his twin boys Sky and Thor-Lyndon into the world, he felt he had to "prove himself" to the nannies he hired to help care for his sons. He says, "I had to learn the hard way that both women and men have prejudices about a single dad, especially a single dad who has chosen [to be] so. They just don't think you can be a good dad at the end."
However, he is less concerned about what others think and is just so proud to have the opportunity to raise his sons. He says, "I am privileged, because I got to raise them from the get go, and, I am everything to them as much as they are everything to me. There's [nothing like] being a dad! There's hope for a better environment and acceptance — my beautiful mother, for example, is now the most excited of all grandmothers, all of a sudden."
Single dads need a little love
Rich Holt became a single dad when his ex-wife went to prison for child abuse. He's worked hard to raise his daughter, now 10, and son, 7, taking extra time to do his daughter's hair just right only to have someone comment, "Your mother did a great job with your hair."
Rich says, "Society expects women, not men, to care for children. And in the face of something different, people just ignore the facts and continue on with their ridiculous idea that the man in front of them is so incompetent and stupid that he couldn't possibly be responsible for anything good the kids have from braided hair to yellow belts in Kung Fu."
This single dad has worked so hard to be an upstanding parent that he landed himself in the hospital for five days. He explains, "What I had to do was realize that to take good care of the kids, I had to take good care of myself."
^ When I set out to write this article, I could have never imagined the heartfelt and heart wrenching stories and raw emotions I'd receive from such hardworking single dads. As much respect as single moms get, I think society needs to show our single dads some much-deserved love, too!