Problems with dating a single parent
Shortly after Sam's first birthday, his mum went on holiday, leaving Sam with his dad, 27-year-old William Mc Granaghan. She said she'd only be gone a week, but a week turned to two, and as the weeks became months, it became clear she wasn't coming back.Though he embraced his new role as a single parent, William was out of his depth: "I didn't know where to go; I lost my job and then my flat.It was just so difficult to be a full-time dad and to make ends meet," he recalls.Further down the line, William managed to borrow enough money to start his own business – the only way for him to bring in an income and remain flexible enough to keep up with the school run, the doctor and dentist appointments, and whatever else needed doing at a moment's notice. But worse than the financial struggle, he says, was not having male friends in the same situation to talk to.With this in mind, in February last year William set up the charity Dad's House.As well as offering single fathers the practical advice and the emotional back-up he'd lacked, with free cookery classes, life-coaching and counselling, Dad's House aims to create a social network for fathers across the UK. Just a year since its launch, the organisation now has roughly 1,400 members.
One of the most common complaints about life as a single dad has been how isolating it can be.Nick Michaelides, who has been raising his two children alone since their mother, Bella, died three years ago, notes that mums tend to cluster together at the school gates to arrange get-togethers; as a man, he says it's easy to find yourself excluded from key social events.Fathers simply don't cultivate the same parental networks.Part of the problem seems to be that dads in two-parent relationships don't understand the struggle faced by single fathers, as most don't have a clue about what's actually involved in raising a child.The single dads I spoke to say it's predominantly their friends' wives and girlfriends who handle the day-to-day things like washing, helping with homework and giving a hug when it's needed – and they are quick to admit that it was only in becoming a single parent themselves that they've realised quite how much work is involved.
Acknowledging the differences between being a single mum and being a single dad, William believes, is crucial.