If a single dad I know named Jon didn’t have a single father support group, “I wouldn’t have a place to go,” he said. In 1960, approximately 300,000 single fathers lived in the United States. Today, there are more than 2.6 million. Personally, I consider a single father to be any man who has full or primary custody of his children, is a non-custodial parent, or has children but is currently unable to see them. With this many families in need of community, it is vital to keep establishing single father support groups across the nation.
I became a single dad in 2006 and quickly realized just how few resources were out there for guys like me. So in 2008, I formed a small group out of my living room. Eventually, it grew into a national organization. What I know about single father groups is based on a decade’s worth of my personal experiences leading one. Here’s why you need to be part of a single father group.
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They are a refuge.
Several years back, I surveyed our attendees at a single-parent conference. I asked both single moms and single dads what their greatest need is. The options included both tangible and intangible needs. Want to take a guess at what topped the list? It was not financial stability, stable housing, or reliable transportation. The number two answer was a strong and stable community. Number one? Emotional support. A single father support group can provide both of these. In doing so, the dads are able to do life with others in similar situations. A good group leader can help cultivate emotional support. And though they may feel alone, single dads discover they are not—and that brings a lot of hope.
They help you form new friendships.
About half the guys in our group were divorced and the other half had never been married. One gentleman was a widower. The common bond was all our lives had changed. As our group grew and morphed over the years, many of us built bonds that have lasted. The guys started hanging out with each other outside of group time. For many, they were coming from a couple’s world and now found themselves the odd man out among their married friends. Others had friends who were still single but did not have any kids. Those friends had schedules that allowed them more freedom in a way that was not compatible with that of a single parent. These small groups are so important because forming new friendships in a time of crisis can really help someone get through it.
They meet needs specific to single dads.
“A single father group may not be therapy, but it can be therapeutic.”