If parenthood is a roller coaster, going at it alone can make for one hell of a ride. To find out what it's really like being a single dad, we've asked our wonderful community of parents to share their unique experiences.
Here are 24 of their responses, revealing the hardships and rewards single fathers face.
1. "It's hard work and a real challenge [involving] anxiety and stress. A real respect to single mothers out there in the world."
2. "If I didn't spend a few years as a single dad, my son and I probably wouldn't be as close as we are now."
3. "[I] can make the bacon, fry it up, braid some hair and catch the football game. All at the same time. I'm superman because I have to be. And it's the highest honor of my life. I'm proud to be a single dad."
4. "I am always asked what was wrong with their mother."
“I can make the bacon, fry it up, braid some hair and catch the football game. I'm superman because I have to be.”
5. "It's tiring, humbling and inspiring. There's nothing else I'd rather do more."
6. "It's difficult at times ... Traveling recently with my 3-year-old daughter, we had a layover and I had to use the restroom. I was aware of the stigma of bringing her into the men's room but managed to get by."
7. "The main stressors being financial and not being able to give as much individual time to each as I would like. I find it funny how many people are shocked that a man takes care of four children. I wouldn't change it for anything."
8. "It made me into a better father. It made me more responsible."
9. "It is much like being a single mother, with all the same ups and downs. The experience deepened my empathy and understanding of what it is to be a man and a feminist."
10. "I never planned on being a widower much less a single father. But I have to make sure my daughter knows I love and support her every single day."
“The experience deepened my empathy and understanding of what it is to be a man and a feminist.”
11. "I feel like a disappointment when I can't balance work and quality time with my daughters."
12. "It can be tough because you want to give your daughter the universe. But you can't. My daughter asked me on numerous occasions if her mom and I could live together. I asked her why and she told me, 'I want us to be a family.' ... I knew that was the one thing I couldn't give her, no matter how hard I worked or how much money I made."
13. "I worry every day whether I am doing a good job or not."
14. "You don't get labeled as being the fun parent, the helping with homework parent, the one who lays down the law ... or anything that may be considered partial of the full job. You are the everything parent. You get all the tears, the joy, the tantrums, the hugs, the disappointments, and all that their life has to offer. You do it all, you love it all. You don't have to ask what your child likes, or what you should get. You know all there is to know about them."
15. "I feel empowered because often times raising kids is labeled 'the woman's job.'"
“You are the everything parent. You get all the tears, the joy, the tantrums, the hugs, the disappointments.”
16. "It's the hardest job I'll ever love ... The hard part is not being able to provide as much for them as their mom and stepfather. Although it is extremely difficult, and lonely at times, I wouldn't trade being their dad for anything in the world."
17. "I'm raising my 13-year-old daughter without much of a support system, but that's alright. Her and I are learning together. It's hard at times but when my daughter says 'I love you daddy,' I know everything will be alright."
18. "It's been the most challenging and by far the most rewarding experience of my life. [My 7-year-old daughter] has made me a much more well-rounded person and I'm trying to raise her the same. Keep up the great work, fellow single fathers."
19. "It isn't much different from single mothers ... Both fathers and mothers have the same goal: to teach their children essential skills to raise their own and continue future generations. In the end, single parents, whether you're a man or woman, are more focused than married parents."
20. "It's challenging when she sees other female friends with their moms and she can't help but break into tears asking why she doesn't have a mom, that it's not fair. I'm the dad who will take her to get a mani-pedi, do her hair, but I know those are things she'd like to experience with a mom."
“When your daughter sees other girls having mother-daughter time and she's wondering where hers is, it can break even the manliest men.”
21. "I have my son's back. I provide the soft place to land. He comes first in my life and he knows it. Being a Dad is the greatest privilege."
22. "I lost my wife two years ago. We had a 14-year-old daughter. I've had to get my sister to help, I just didn't have answers that she needed."
23. "It's challenging, lonely, but I love my child endlessly. When your daughter sees other girls having mother-daughter time and she's wondering where hers is, it can break even the manliest men. When I take her to birthday parties and such, all the moms gather and chat [and] I'm the father who's off to the side. Other than the difficulties, it's amazing to raise such a beautiful child through everything we've gone through. To see her grow, laugh, smile."
24. "It can be a perilous and lonely but rewarding journey. Friends, family and even total strangers question your ability, your commitment, your loyalty, your intentions and pretty much everything else that you do, not only for your children but for yourself ...
In terms of personal fulfillment I can say that raising my kids has, and continues to be, the toughest job that I've ever had. Children ground you. They challenge you and they grow you up because you're forced as a parent to look inward at yourself, see your faults and strengths, then have to figure out how to bring it all together so that you can bring your best game to the field everyday. I'd say that my idea of heaven would be being able to re-live every single day of raising my kids from infancy to adulthood.
They have been, without a doubt, the best thing that I've ever done with my life."
Some quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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