Ways single and gay dads can play a bigger role in their children's lives

On Aug. 17 U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announced they are adopting a child and will become parents. “The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us,” Buttigieg, 39, wrote on Twitter. “We can’t wait to share more soon.”

Then, on Sep. 4, Pete Buttigieg posted to his social media accounts along with a black and white photo of himself and Chasten holding their newborns: “Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we’re becoming parents. We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family.”

While Pete and Chasten are happily married and are embarking on the parenting journey together as a couple, many queer men and women find themselves raising children alone, either setting out to become a parent by themselves, or taking care of kids from a previous relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of children living with a single parent has been steadily rising for decades. Today, nearly a quarter of all children in the country live with just one of their parents, which is more than three times more than other children around the world. A lot of focus on single parents goes to the moms, leaving single dads forgotten and overlooked. Most dads do want to play a larger role in the lives of their children, but they are not sure how to make it happen. The good news is that there are things that can be done to help make it possible.

“More than any other project or cause that society needs to work on, we must work with passion and urgency to eliminate the systemic barriers to single-father involvement in the lives of our children,” explains Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder of Dads’ Resource Center. “We must make the time to educate everyone about the overwhelming evidence - backed up by thousands of years of anecdotal evidence and numerous studies over recent decades - that shows children develop much better when both of their parents are actively involved in their lives.”

Dr. Myers, a father of eight, founded Dads’ Resource Center to help combat the issues associated with children growing up without their fathers in the home. At its heart, the center is a child advocacy organization that aims to ensure that each child has the appropriate involvement and contributions from both parents. 

The American Psychological Association reports that single-parent families have more stressors, resulting from visitation and custody problems, conflicts between the parents, less opportunity for children to spend time with their parents and disruptions in extended family relationships, among other issues. Dads getting more time with their children can help to address some of these issues. 

Here are four things fathers can do to play a bigger role in the lives of their children:

Make Their Children Their Primary Focus – Whatever complications or challenges may exist, the safety, health, happiness and well-being of their children should be any parent’s primary concern. This should be displayed not only in words but consistently through actions.

Respectfully Coparent – Separated parents should always communicate with one a other in a polite and courteous manner at all times. They should make every effort to accommodate reasonable adaptations to parenting plans, never knowingly portray the other parent in a negative light and do their best to support the relationship between their ex and their children. 

Ensure the Basic Needs of Their Children – Every parent’s number one priority is guaranteeing the safety and welfare of their children. This means making sure that their financial, medical, educational, and developmental needs are always being met. 

Commit to Being the Best Father Possible – All parents should continuously work to spend quality time interacting with their children. They should role model and be a positive influence for their sons and daughters. They should mentor and teach them and strive to be the best person possible in order to model for them. 

The Dads’ Resource Center believes that any parent that fulfills these core responsibilities deserves equal standing in all decisions regarding the rights and custody of their children and that any standards of consideration regarding the rights and custody of children should be applied equally to both parents. 

“Parenting is a two-person job,” added Jeff Steiner, executive director of the Dads’ Resource Center. “Mothers and fathers give different, but equally important things to their sons and daughters, who have the best chance at success in life when both parents are actively involved in their upbringing. It is a grave disservice to children when a parent is unnecessarily kept out of their lives.”

Dads’ Resource Center has been established to benefit children of separated or divorced parents by advocating the importance of fathers having adequate opportunities to fulfill their role of fatherhood. The group helps get information regarding the issues out to the public and work with fathers to help make improvements. To get more information, visit the site at: https://dadsrc.org.

About Dads’ Resource Center

The Dads’ Resource Center is committed to providing education, resources and advocacy for dads who are separated or divorced and are determined to uphold their sacred responsibility as fathers. The Dads’ Resource Center was founded by Dr. Joel N. Myers, who is the founder and CEO of AccuWeather. To get more information, visit the site at: https://dadsrc.org.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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