The importance of fatherhood cannot be overstated. Never, in all your life, will you be able to do something as important, meaningful, fulfilling, and world-changing as raising good kids.
Consider the following statistics (U.S. Census Bureau) and their implications:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
- 85% of youth in prison come from fatherless homes
The list goes on and on.
Pair these three stats with the fact that 33% of children in the U.S. live in a home without a father, and it becomes clear that, as a nation, we are caught up in an epidemic of vast proportions.
In fact, according to 72% of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the biggest family and social problem facing the country today.
I mention these statistics not to frighten you away or leave you hopeless, but to congratulate and motivate you–to reveal to you just how wonderful it is that you’re still around and to open your eyes to just how weighty a burden you bear and how crucial it is that you bear it well.
The world, and indeed your children, are counting on you. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Raising a child (or children) is difficult enough for two parents, let alone one. You have every right to feel exhausted.
Sometimes it feels like there’s no way you can keep going alone–as if one more dirty diaper, one more trip to the daycare, one more sleepless night will be the end of it for you. You feel like curling up in a little ball and disappearing.
But you’re a father, and fathers can’t just disappear.
That’s why single dad support groups can be instrumental in your battle against the odds. This burden you bear does not need to be born alone. There are other single dads out there just like you and it’s time you lean on one another for emotional support.
Throughout my ten-plus years as a men’s coach, I’ve seen that meeting up with people going through similar situations works wonders. Regardless of whether or not your practical situation improves, being able to share your pain, forge new friendships, and face challenges together is life-changing.
What is a Single Dad Support Group?
A single dad support group is a gathering of single dads who come together under the banner of a shared life situation: single fatherhood.
They provide support for each other, discuss the issues they face, and tend to each other’s well-being.
Different from other sorts of men’s groups, single-father support groups are meant to address only the needs of single dads. While most men’s support groups appeal to 36% of the population (men over 18), single-dad support groups are made for the less than half of a percent of the population who are single fathers.
These groups address difficult topics that are rarely addressed in the various other forums of life: things like child custody, child support, and financial stability.
While the specifics of each support group will vary by group, most groups are made up of between three and ten dads–enough for it to be a group, but not too many that the members won’t have a chance to know each and every other group member.
Most groups meet once a week or once every other week depending on the wishes of the members.
Some groups meet for social events, some are online support groups, but most prefer to meet in the comfort of one of their homes. Once again, each group will be different depending on the goals and wishes of the members.
How Single Dad Support Groups Will Change Your Life as a Single Dad?
Now that you have an idea of what single dad support groups are, I’d like to get into what they can do for you and how single dads all around the country have been changing their lives through support groups.
What is it about this small gathering of men that can benefit you so much?
The following five are some of the biggest benefits of joining a support group.
1. You’ll find shelter and support from men facing similar pain
The fact that you are embracing single fatherhood shows that you are in the upper percent of men.
In a country where 80% of single-parent households are run by single mothers, it’s clear that fathers have drastically failed.
While it would be strange to pat yourself on the back for not being irresponsible, it is important for you to recognize that you are already bearing a burden that most men would refuse.
But what is it that makes single fatherhood so difficult? Why is it that so many men run?
It’s simple. Raising a child (or children) alone is insanely challenging. Between work, keeping up the home, and raising your kid(s), there’s no time for you–no time for your mental health, no time for self-care, no time to focus on your own well-being.
Joining a support group for single dads helps you find valuable shelter and support as a member of a largely-unsupported group of men. They help you become the man you want to be for your children.
Support groups give you the chance to form a stable community, learn from other single dads, and talk about the problems you are facing in a safe space of open ears.
2. You’ll form lifelong bonds with a band of brothers
Why does warfare forge such great friendships? Where did the term “brothers in arms” come from?
Difficult times make true friends.
In today’s soft world, it’s hard to know who will be by your side in tough times. When someone jumps in front of a bullet for you or throws themselves over a grenade, it gets much easier.
Throwing yourself into the foxhole of common life difficulties with other single-dads forges lasting friendships.
You may go for help or counseling, but I promise you, if you stick around, you’ll leave with friends of the highest quality.
Men with shared life experiences and a mutual understanding of one another’s struggles tend to become friends.
Oftentimes a few months of weekly heartfelt connection with other single fathers in your situation will make you feel closer to them than people you have known for years.
What may start as biweekly meetings could turn into getting together on the weekends to watch the game, setting up playdates for your kids, and eventually, a lifelong friendship.
3. You are given an outlet for your pain
It’s no secret that the world of men is facing unprecedented times. The modern man is depressed, unhealthy both mentally and physically, and worst of all, alone.
I would go so far as to assert that men of the Western world are caught up in a loneliness epidemic.
In a society where you are viewed as either assertive and intimidating or passive and submissive, men choose a third option. We choose to be silent. We choose to keep our pain within us.
We choose to become immovable and indifferent to the world around us–losing, in the process, our ability to outlet pain in a healthy manner.
A support group is an outlet for your pain. It’s a place where you can learn how to open up as a man. A place where you can share how you actually feel and receive valuable insight and advice from other men.
Being a single dad is one of the hardest jobs on the planet and it’s not only important, but imperative that you have somewhere where you can release your pain.
When a man loses his partner, whether this be due to death, divorce, or separation of another kind, he loses his helper in life and someone to open up to.
Facing the stormy seas that the world has sent your way without the help of another is difficult, but having people to open up to can make it a heck of a lot easier.
Oftentimes single dads are too busy to maintain close relationships. Because of this, when things get tough, they have no one to open their heart to. Support groups create this environment where men can open up.
4. You receive advice specific to your situation
Raising children as a single parent is not the same as raising children as a couple.
You have less time, fewer pairs of hands for diaper changing, and most of all, less patience to be able to handle the wild ride that parenting is.
That’s why it’s crucial that you as a single parent understand that you are going to have to make certain adjustments–perhaps you could even call them compromises.
If you are working a full-time job, your children may have to spend more time at child care or with a grandparent than you would ideally like.
You are likely facing more financial strain than a couple raising a child together, so you may even be working multiple jobs.
You may not be able to give as much time to your children as you had dreamed of when you first started envisioning fatherhood. Finding ways to express your love for your child despite your inability to be with them as you would wish is a crucial part of being a single parent.
Single-dad support groups provide advice specific to your life circumstances. Many groups include parenting classes that teach parenting skills and give you access to resources and knowledge that will meet your unique needs.
They offer resources for single parents going through divorce, custody issues, instances involving child abuse, domestic violence, and all manner of other community resources relating to parenting support.
The life of a single father is difficult, but joining a group that offers advice and guidance specific to your situation can make it a whole lot easier.
5. The ultimate prize: you help create well-rounded children
Now to the most important piece.
Single-dad support groups are about refuge from the storms of life–they are about forming lifelong friendships and having a healthy outlet for your pain. They are about you and about opening up and about finding healthy ways to approach the tough circumstances you find yourself in.
But as much as they are about you, they are about your children. The goal of a single-dad support group is to support you so you can be the best father to your children.
If you aren’t in a support group of this nature with one of the primary focuses being your children, then you should do some work on your mindset. These groups are for single fathers who want to be the best they can be as men for their children–men who want to see themselves thrive so their kids can flourish as a result.
Raising a child without a mother is an extremely difficult task, but with the help of other single fathers, it is not an impossible task.
The goal of any good father is to be there for their child–and not just to be there, but to be active and present in their development, the establishment of their values, and the unfolding of every part of their life.
The best feeling in the world for a father is seeing your child thrive in the world because of the foundation you gave them and the support you constantly provide them.
As a single father, though, the struggle to be a good father can feel like an uphill battle. Carrying the full responsibilities and financial burden of your household while maintaining a healthy relationship with your kid(s) and without the help of another person can feel impossible.
That’s why men need support from other men. Men need single-dad support groups where they can meet single fathers just like themselves and work through things together.
Single-father support groups not only provide men with invaluable resources and guidance pertaining to all things “single-fatherhood”, but much-needed emotional support, a place to open up, and a chance to meet lifelong friends.
Often single dads are so caught up in their hectic life that they underestimate the need of and undervalue the life-changing abilities of a single dad support group.
“If I had time for something like that, I would,” they say. In reality, time spent at a single-father support group could be the most valuable investment you’ll ever make.
If you are looking for a group like this or support of this kind, I have news for you. Here at knowledge for men, we have put together a team of the best men’s coaches in the world–a special forces unit to help you take down whatever giant you are up against in life.
We have programs and support groups full of high-quality, life-embracing men who, like you, are looking for help from other men. Men who are tired of facing their giants alone–men who are tired of shutting their eyes to the pain of the world and muffling their cries with their hand–men who know there is more out there and are willing to risk comfort to get it.