What It’s Like To Be A Single Dad To An 8-Year-Old Daughter
by Jennifer O’Neill, Yahoo Parenting
Full-custody single dads are a growing group, with 24 percent of single-parent homes headed up by fathers — a ninefold increase since 1960,according to the Pew Research Center. But living that reality can still feel pretty lonely for the man managing everything for his family solo.
To find out what it’s like to be a single dad, the folks at Yahoo Parenting sat down with 42-year-old Ian. He has been raising daughter Lana, 8, on his own in Los Angeles for the past five years — dealing with everything from awkward all-mother playdates to his own dating (or lack thereof).
“When people find out I have full custody of my daughter, it’s like I’m from Mars,” says Ian, who preferred not to share his last name, during his on-camera interview with Yahoo Parenting. “But when it happens, you just kind of do a gut check: Saddle up, I’m all in. Easier said than done, but [she’s] my priority, and so that’s what I do.”
Lana, now in third grade, was just 3 when Ian and Lana’s mother split after seven years together. A year later, the dad was granted full custody. “She’s got a bond with her mom that nothing will ever break up,” he insists of his little girl, who has weekly daytime visits with her mother. Yet for all intents and purposes, the TV industry professional is raising Lana, with the help of a nanny.
One of the biggest learning curves he’s experienced through raising a girl has been “the realization that she is sensitive or emotional in ways that I would not have expected.” Not a naturally gentle communicator, he explains, “I really had to take notice … that my tone matters more than anything when I speak to her.” Then there’s her gravitation toward “girly girl” toys and activities.
He doesn’t share her passion for shopping, either, but when it comes to styling his daughter’s hair, this dad embraces every opportunity. “It’s a moment where you get to be close,” he says. “She can focus on something else, but I’m still getting what I consider intimate time with her. We talk about how to do this, or if there’s a better way, or can she do this better? I kind of like it.”
The duo has been bra shopping together, yet Ian admits, “I’m not looking forward to tampons or maxi pads. My strategy with that — I think I’ve got a year? — is that I’m going to buy a variety pack.”