I was a single dad through most of my children’s life. It was a choice - not a consequence. I learned early on that there were many differences having children with two parents in partnership and two parents not in partnership. Since both my children were boys and the amicable divorce from their mother occurred at mid-young ages (7 & 9), it seemed natural that the boys should live with me. Their mother agreed and so it was. I embarked on a journey that not only bonded me permanently with each boy but provided me an extraordinary opportunity to learn how to build a relationship from the beginning. At first the thought of going it alone was a bit scary and filled with uncertainty, not all that different from when we began as a partnership 8 years previous. However, the trepidation this time was different.
I was aware that the consequences of my daily decisions and choices were going to be mine and only mine to manage. I was not going to have another ‘equal’ party in the decision process. This started out as a bug, not a feature, and ended up being a feature. The feature was not having to get ‘buy in’ on all decisions. True, this may have limited my perspective, and certainly diminished the possibilities of a better direction lacking the combined resources of two parents. But it created a more simple daily life situation and allowed me to get more accomplished and more tasks completed. It is not to say that it was the best, it was just more efficient.
Another aspect of being a single parent was the setting of rules. With only one authority, it was significantly more challenging for the boys to try and manipulate the situation to fit their interests. It kept life a bit more simpler and allowed me to maintain a consistent pattern, particularly with regard to discipline and behavior. Without a different opinion on correct behavior, which is very often a point of disagreement and contention among partners, the three of us could move through behavioral issues more clearly. In the end this was much more readily acceptable by the boys because it was simply not confusing (and the little squirts could not make it confusing!). The boys, not being able to play one off the other, was indeed an advantage.