Dan Okwiri is a single father of two, a boy and a girl, and has been separated from his wife for 7 years now. His wife left him when the last born, a boy named after his dad Joe was barely 3 years and his daughter Tamara was 7 years.
“My son is 10 years old now and my daughter is a teenager, and I can barely tell how I have maneuvered being both a dad and a mom to them,” he says
Dan, as he is popularly known, adds that single fatherhood is not easy but with determination and focus everything falls into place despite the challenges.
Dan is one among many single dads who have embraced single fatherhood and as he says, for a man, transitioning to a single dad at home without their mothers is demanding.
As per Dan’s testimony, single dads struggle and have no idea where to begin or end. This is corroborated by Jacob Kamau’s testimony, a high-flying executive with a multinational and a single dad of two. Jacob’s case is intriguing, his kids have different mothers and he has never lived with any of them. “My situation is special as raising two kids from different mothers is like a taboo.” He smiles
Challenges facing single dads
One of the challenges facing single fathers is the lack of know-how on how to raise a girl when you have no idea how to handle the female gender. Unlike boys, girls are difficult to manage, their needs are different and as a man, you may not know how to deal with them.
However, the biggest challenge is the ridicule that comes with being a single dad. As Dan attests, “Ï will once in a while hear unpleasant comments from strangers on how raising a kid as a man is not good and how I should just go and dump them at their grandmothers. Many assume I have failed as a man and therefore I cannot be a good father”, he says. For Jacob, it’s even harder, with two baby mamas, he says he has heard the worst on how he went around impregnating two women and he is now paying for his sins.
Jacob adds that another challenge that single dads have to put up with is the emotional impact of the separation of father and mother among the kids. While the kids may not ask the hard questions, they are left wondering what happened to their mum and if she will ever come back.
The anxiety that comes with what kind of relationship one should establish with in-laws whose daughter you have already separated with is another hard nut to crack. As Dan explains, “I am living with their grandkids so how is the relationship between us supposed to be? It can be awkward” isn’t it?
With his busy schedule, Jacobs says that juggling personal and work-related responsibilities have been his greatest headache. “I travel outside the country frequently, and therefore I have to manage who takes care of my kids while I am away. Whereas I have a house manager, I cannot leave them with her for all the days I am away, I have to look for my cousin or a very close relative to monitor, you know blood is thicker than water” He smiles
Culturally, men are known to be social beings and will often spend time with their friends on social events however, that ends once one becomes a single dad. You have no time for friends, you become preoccupied with your kids. Social events become rare but the love of raising your kids gives keeps one going.
But it’s not all gloomy as it sounds, there is satisfaction in raising your kids as it is a fulfilling responsibility.
How do you manage as a single dad?
There are single dads support clubs, where men meet and exchange notes, give moral support and give advice. Some clubs even invite women to come and give advice from a woman’s point of view.
Having a support system at home is another way one can walk this journey with ease. Support from family members is key, like the African adage says, the child belongs to the community, you can’t raise him/her alone.
You can also embrace technology and make your life easier. Some easy tasks like shopping for day-to-day items can be accomplished at the touch of your phone. For items like drugs, beauty products, and other home necessities for your kids and yourself can be ordered at MYDAWA and delivered the same day.
In conclusion, it is not a crime to be a single dad. Single dads have been celebrated across the globe for embracing this role. Remember you are first a parent before you are a single dad. Take the title with pride.0