Christmas as a Single Dad

The best thing in the world to experience is seeing the smiles on the faces of your children on Christmas morning. It doesn’t matter if they are excited about a video game or a convertible car. It is a sense of satisfaction that gets realized as a dad. You have provided. You have done your job.

Unfortunately, single dads often get treated as an afterthought at Christmas. If they are fortunate enough to experience the day with their kids, there is still a ticking clock in the background of the experience, counting down until the kids go back to their mom’s home.

With that in mind, Christmas can be a time of anxiety for dads who are no longer married to the other parent. Regardless of the reason for the dissolution of the family unit, dads often get the short end of the stick. At a time of year when dads want nothing more than to be with their families and provide them a Christmas to remember, many dads are left alone on Christmas day, trying to figure out how they got to where they are.

With the holidays come emotions and questions about life, and knowing how to deal with those emotions and questions is important. Navigating the holidays with the right attitude and outlook is instrumental in teaching your kids the right attitudes to have in life while keeping your well-being in a positive space. Buying them the popular gifts that everyone else may be receiving is certainly appreciated, but being there for them with the right attitude is always remembered.

It’s About the Kids

Christmas has its roots in religious observance, as it should, but a powerful side benefit of the Christmas holiday is spending time with those who you love and thus love you in return. For parents, kids are the primary focus of the Christmas holidays. Presents under the tree may garner the most attention, but it is the joy seen on the faces of children that parents yearn for.

A part of providing that joy in a split-family experience is ensuring that the holiday stays focused on the positives and not on the splitting of the family. The age of the children shouldn’t matter. As much as we would like to think that young kids don’t remember, and older kids tend to forget, all kids carry forward the memories of these special times and it helps develop their own expectations for when they grow into adults. What matters to kids is that their time is spent with an attitude of positivity and not negativity. As dads, our role is to provide that positivity, regardless of any internal or external strife. 

Time Well Spent

Single dads are generally ill-equipped to compete with the marvels of modern technology and streamlined marketing through advertisements and content. They must use their wits to outsmart the bells and whistles of the modern attention-grabbers of kids. That primarily means they must aim to have the most impact possible with a limited time to spend with their kids. How does one achieve this?

Creativity is the secret weapon that dads can wield in their battle to win their children’s focus. To be effective with your creativity, you must know what your kids are interested in. Know what they most enjoy during the holidays. This is done through talking and being there for the children.

Some kids like nothing more than Christmas movies, pajamas, and a crackling fire made by their dads. Other kids want to make Christmas cookies and drink hot cocoa. Yet others might want to go out in the shop and build something or tinker around. By focusing on the real opportunities for quality time with their kids, dads can be the heroes of their children and still make their Christmas time together a warm memory that will be appreciated and yearned for. The greatest present is presence. 

Time Apart

There will undoubtedly be some time during the holidays when single dads will be without their children, and those times can be rough. The time alone will most likely cause thoughts to drift and moods to darken. That is when dads need to be prepared to reach out to others to talk. Spending time reaching out to others will lighten the mental load and help to realize that there can be positives from any negative situation.

The key to using this time without your kids for its best possible benefit is knowing that this is a time of giving and charity. Reaching out to help those who may be less fortunate serves others and your own needs by allowing you to bring something good into the world instead of dwelling on what you are missing at the moment. Soup kitchens, veterans groups, elderly outreach, and children’s programs are all examples of ways for you to contribute and feel the satisfaction of giving joy to others (if you ever want to help, Operation Gentleman always needs contributors and volunteers). Joy is contagious. Helping spread joy to others will help you find joy as well.

Being a single dad during Christmas can be sad, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking advantage of the time that you do have with your kids, making those moments count, and helping others are all ways to find happiness at Christmas. Being thankful for what you do have and how you can help others is the best way to spend your time, with or without your kids.

Photo by cottonbro studio.

44700cookie-checkChristmas as a Single Dad

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