Even though father’s day is a few months away, we ought to celebrate and support our dads all-year-round, especially those that are raising kids alone. Statistics have it that the single daddy’s population is growing steadily all over the world. Among these numbers are those that are parenting kids with mental illness.
Bringing up children with ill mental wellbeing is challenging. As a single dad, it is tougher because you have to juggle between being the perfect parent and the sole breadwinner.
Fathers with kids on the spectrum and other mental health issues have talked about some of the difficulties they face.
If you have a mentally ill child or know someone who does, here are some of the challenges you may encounter and how to manage them.
1. Feeling Alone As a Parent
It is already hard enough trying to figure out where to get resources. So, when someone picks you up for not raising your child properly because of something they did in public, it might take a toll on you. Children with mental illnesses tend to behave aggressively.
Unfortunately, not all onlookers are aware of the kid’s condition. Most parents with differently enabled kids had an instance when strangers called them out for not raising their children properly. It results in a feeling of loneliness and seclusion.
2. Inadequate Knowhow or Proper Treatments
The earlier you start treatment, the easier it is for both the parent and the child. Unfortunately, many single dads don’t know what therapies their kids require to help manage the condition. Eventually, it takes months to figure out the correct remedy that works which delays treatment.
3. The “Dumb” Dad
Society has made it seem like all dads should be dumb, whether married or not. There is almost no sitcom movie that doesn’t portray fathers as people who do not grasp things quickly. People expect fathers to be incompetent. Therefore, you will realize that they are scrutinized more than women when it comes to raising children. Single dads raising babies with mental illnesses often end up feeling self-critical and guilty. They might also face self-doubt.
4. It takes an emotional toll
Nothing concerning mental illness is simple. It’s not until you embrace it and find coping mechanisms to ease your life that you will find happiness. Even when you do, the meltdowns don’t go away.
Sometimes you will watch your little one withering in pain, and all you can do is to wait for it to end. Parents want to be there for their young ones through thick and thin. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can fix. That is why single dads with mentally ill children end up stressed and often depressed.
5. Guilt and Anger
Feeling like you are at fault may arise when you feel like you aren’t doing things right when you lose your temper or of you blame yourself wrongly for the disorder. Anger may occur when fathers feel like they aren’t getting help from their families, support groups, and friends. They become angry with the child’s behavior, themselves, and everyone around them.
6. Money and Work
Whether you became a single parent after a divorce or after the passing of the mother, there is an immediate loss of income. You are no longer surviving on two salaries like you were previously, and this can be a huge stressor. Many single dads end up downsizing houses so that they have enough money for the treatments. Relocating to a humble dwelling might make a depressive environment initially, but with time it gets better.
7. The Health Factor
A recent study revealed that single dads are vulnerable to poor mental health. The study was carried out by the University of Toronto, and they found out that one out of ten fathers raising kids alone had been diagnosed with an anxiety or mood disorder. Compared to their single mother counterparts, single dads are likelier to be overweight and binge drinkers. Therefore, learning to cope with single parenthood is essential.
How Can Single Dads Raise Kids With Mental Illness Cope?
Get a Diagnosis
How can you start a journey if you don’t know where you are headed? Knowing your child’s diagnosis is critical. The knowledge can help you discover coping mechanisms.
Learn all you can. Look up resources on children with mental illnesses and read on how you to manage the situation. Consult nonprofit and governmental organizations to find out how to get through.
Care for Yourself, Too
You cannot underestimate the importance of self-care. You might want to laugh at the idea of sparing time for yourself because you don’t know how to do it, but it is critical. Whether you choose walking, driving alone, gardening, painting, or writing, make sure it is something that makes you feel alive.
Build a Support System
Raising a whole human being on your own isn’t an easy feat. Look for local groups and parenting networks that support single parents with mentally ill children. Over time you will realize you aren’t alone in this!