Single Dads

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Single Dads and Health Insurance.

5 Reasons It's Better To Be A Single Parent
Dad Still Matters - Even When He's a Little Late to the Game
Less Health Insurance In Single-Dad Homes

5 Reasons It's Better To Be A Single Parent

Although the gold standard in child rearing has traditionally been a dual family unit, being a single parent has a myriad of benefits. Rather than navigating the treacherous territory of constant parental compromise, you can independently make choices for your children that you feel is best. Eleven years ago, when my former husband and I split, I saw my divorce as a glorious opportunity to parent solo. No more discussing the finer points of gymnastics vs. volleyball. I didn't have to debate dessert after dinner vs. never ever letting sugar touch lips. And there was no longer a lengthy discussion over the reason my daughters needed braces.

While the state of rock-steady marital bliss in this country continues to falter, more and more adults are joining the ranks of contented uncoupled family units. In fact, based on the latest Census Bureau statistics, there are over 14 million single parent households with children under the age of 18. That is a lot of people and a good reason to celebrate. Which is why, March 21 has been designated as National Single Parent's Day. A time to honor all those tenacious individuals who do what they do, day in and day out, to support, nurture and care for their kids.

As a single mom advisor and author of It Takes All 5, I would like to honor the day and offer you five solid reasons why it's better to be a single mom or dad than half of a parenting pair.

1. No Negotiations Necessary: While your married counterparts continue to disagree on the state of their children's welfare, you get to make unilateral choices, which in the long run is better for your offspring's well-being. A child's behavior can be negatively affected by adult arguing. It will either leave them crying their eyes out or running for cover. With no one else in the house to challenge your choices, you may continue to be the cozy constant security blanket your children need. Granted, there is a financial price to pay when you are the sole provider, but children need to learn that sometimes we can't give them everything they want. And oftentimes what they thought was a "must-have," really isn't. Ultimately if it is that important, you will find a way. Payment plans were designed for the single parent!

2. Stellar Independent Role Model: One of the best gifts I was able to give my two daughters was the knowledge that they can make it on their own. Change a light bulb without a dad in the house -- snap Mom. Swoop a stylish up-do for your teen with no mom in sight -- yeah Dad. You embody the the idea that it's better to "want" to be in a relationship because there is a loving bond rather than you "need" to be in a relationship because there is stuff to be done or procured. When your child sees you as a completely whole and independent adult, they will learn to emulate your healthy behaviors.

3. Relationship Options May Vary: Our society is shifting away from the bonds of matrimony. A recent Pew study revealed that just over half of adult Americans are married, the lowest rate in decades. Children will be enlightened and possibly relieved that they are no longer tied to that traditional lifestyle. Marriage is optional and sometimes not applicable. Long-term relationships without wedding bands can be stronger. My idols in this arena are Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn; they've been together for nearly 30 years. These lessons are particularly important for girls, who were raised on the fictitious belief that Prince Charming would sweep them of their feet to live happily ever after, only to become enormously disappointed when their fairytale ending turns into a hardcore courtroom reality.

4. Bed Sharing Not Required: Married couples may have more sex, but it isn't nearly as much fun. While they constantly have to "spice it up" in the bedroom, the nature of being single and switching partners does all the cooking for us. We tease, experiment and explore the bawdy awareness of every new lover. Researchers at the University of Pisa found that testosterone levels, in both men and women, make the sex hotter during the first two years of a relationship. My favorite part of becoming single again was the choice to have, or not to have, a mate in my bed. The National Sleep Foundation reported that sleeping two to a bed could cause you to lose 49 minutes of sleep per night. That's a lot! On the nights when no one is next to me to snuggle with, I lay diagonally across the mattress, relishing the cool crisp sheets on "his side."

5. Building a Better Body: Marriages are like your freshman year in college. You have the tendency to pack on the pounds. One study found that women could gain five to eight pounds in the first few years of their wedded bliss and a whopping 54 pounds by the ten-year mark, while their single counterparts stay slim. Most of us have an overriding desire to want to be attractive to prospective mates of the opposite sex. The result of a divorce? A slimmer, trimmer you -- aka the Divorce Diet. Take a look at Tom Cruise who reportedly lost 15 pounds after splitting with Katie. Jennie Garth lost 20 and Demi Moore has been stick thin since the departure of her sweetheart, Ashton Kutcher.

(Editorial comment. This article was written by a woman and she leaves out one very important fact that is the downfall for many single mothers. As a single father, there was not conflict in our household about discipline or tough love. Statistics show that single mother households suffer, in general, from lack of discipline - higher drug use, teen pregnancies, truancy, lower graduation levels, and generally more problems with authority. Those households fail to establish strong boundaries. The father is usually the one responsible for that area. And, no longer does he come home to hear that his wife has announced the the kids "Wait til your father gets home." He sets the tone for discipline and doesn't get undermined or set up as the bad guy in a complete household. As a single father, he is the guiding light for his children.)

Many reports will tell you that being a single parent is stressful. It is. But no more stressful than being a married parent. Ultimately, we all want to step into our own with confidence and take every curveball life throws us with our independent spirit intact. The best way to handle the inevitable life shifts is to stay positive, reach out for support from your friends and family, relish the time you spend with your children and most importantly, create a daily space for some much deserved me-time.

Happy National Single Parents Day to you!

Dad Still Matters - Even When He's a Little Late to the Game

Dads and moms aren't perfect. But, if mom understands the importance of involving dad, she will understand that she herself - is a vital factor in connecting father to child. The following story reveals exactly this...

Jamal recently emailed me with his story of becoming a father overnight...

It’s been eight years since my daughter has come into my life. I say “come into,” because I was not present when she was born. In fact, I didn’t even know that I had a child. Let me explain. I dated my daughter’s mother the spring/summer of 2005 and the relationship ended in the fall of 2005. We did not speak or communicate for months after the break up. During this period of time, I decided to focus on improving my life, so I re-enrolled myself in college to complete my degree. I picked a temp-to hire position with a company with the hopes of working there full time after completing my education. I lived at home with my mother, made very little money, and the only responsibility I had was to myself.

The summer of 2006 rolls around and I’m continuing to stay focused on my goals working during the day and going to school at night. One night, I saw a news report which mentioned my ex's name and connected her in some way to an abandoned baby. Feeling a sense of urgency to see if my ex was okay, I immediately called her and we spoke briefly. In my mind I started to count back the months that she and I had been intimate, and it had been almost exactly nine months. So I asked her if the abandoned baby was my child. I was told no, and to stay out of it.

I just knew I had to know the truth for me.

After hanging up the phone, you would think I would feel relief, but I did not. My heart was heavy and I could not shake the fact that this abandoned child could indeed be my child. Up to this day, I don’t know what compelled me to investigate further to find the truth. I just knew I had to know the truth for me. I contacted detectives working the case and was given instructions to contact a local children’s organization to take a DNA test. The test was taken on July 17th. I waited for about a week for the results, and the wait seemed like an eternity. Finally the day had come. It was July 21st. I was at work sitting at my desk. An email appeared from children’s of youth organization, with subject line titled paternity test. I opened the email and it turned out I was the father.

My life had changed overnight. I was a father to a precious little girl.

In that moment I felt a whirlwind of feelings: anger, confusion, fear, happiness, excitement, anxiousness - probably ever emotion imaginable. My phone had been ringing off the hook but I could not speak to anyone. I cried at my desk and sat still. My life had changed overnight. I was a father to a precious little girl. Not too long after, I received a follow up call from the children's organization and they only had one question: ”Do you want custody of your daughter?” Without hesitation, I said "Yes." After going through the process and a series of legal events, I was granted custody of my daughter and was given the right to name her. On that day of August 1st, I held my daughter for the first time. I knew then, that everything that I was had to change, and it was step up time for sure.

It has been 8 years now.

It’s been 8 years now and we are still going strong. Being immersed in the joys and responsibility of fatherhood, I had not opened up publicly about my side of this experience. I now feel an obligation to come forward and talk about my experience with the hopes to inspire others, not just in the arena of parenting but in life to go for what you believe in, even when the odds are stacked against you. If my daughter ever gets a chance to read this, I want her to know that I never gave up on her and never will. I hope my belief in my daughter will inspire her to go forward and believe in her own self and dreams. Becoming a father has taught me so much about life and myself. My daughter has been a teacher to me as I am to her. While I am blessed and proud to be her father, I realize that the victory and glory is not mine, but God’s, as it was his divine plan in the beginning.

Becoming a father has taught meso much about life and myself.

While this situation isn't easy; sadly, it's not unique. Marriage is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Having a baby is a uniquely difficult time in the life of mom and dad. But, we must remember that it is vital to the baby, that both mom AND dad be involved before and after pregnancy. We know from research that a dad's involvement is vital to a child's well-being.

We at NFI spend a lot of our time creating tip cards, brochures, and pocket guides to help dads and moms understand these very facts - and as I read Jamal's story, I saw the pieces falling into place. There are so many benefits for everyone involved when mom helps to ensure dad is involved from the start:

Think Baby:

Your child benefits from Dad's involvement the moment he or she is born and the benefits continue through adulthood.

Healthy Development: A child with an involved dad has been shown to do better on tests of emotional, social, and mental development. Involved dads have been shown to increase weight gain in preterm infants (preemies) and increase the change that mom will breastfeed.

Success in School: a child of an involved dad does better in school, on average, than a child who grows up without an involved dad. They're more likely to get A's, behave well, and less likely to drop out of school.

Good Physical Health: Involved dads who are active and have a healthy weight are more likely to have a child who is active and have a healthy weight which is vital to avoiding many diseases such as diabetes.

Good Behavior: a child with an involved dad is less likely to smoke, use drugs, become or get someone pregnant as a teen, or engage in violent and other risky behavior.

Well-Being and Success as an Adult: a child with an involved dad is more likely ot have higher self-esteem.

Think Mom:

Mom benefits from dad's involvement from the moment mom becomes pregnant. Really!

Good pregnancy: when dad is involved in moms' pregnancy, mom is more likely to attend pre-natal visits. Mom is less likely to have health problems while pregnant, such as anemia and high blood pressure.

Less Stress for Her: an involved dad reduces moms' stress. It's easier to talk with an involved dad about ways to help reduce stress.

Better Family Finances: an involved dad is more likely to work harder and earn more money.

Better Marriage/Relationship: When both parents share the load of raising a child, it reduces the stress on both parents. Less stress leads to a better marriage and relationship.

Think Dad:

Dad benefits from his involvement from the moment mom becomes pregnant. These benefits include some of the sames ones that mom receives, includingbetter family finances and a better marriage relationship.

Early Bonding With Child: When dad prepares to be a dad while mom is pregnant, he is better able to bond with his child and more likely to be involved as his child ages. Studies show that when dad is involved leading up to and during the birth of his child, his oxytocin or "bonding hormone" rises while his testosterone or "wandering hormone" declines.

Better Health and Well-Being for Him: An involved dad is more healthy emotionally and physically. He is more likely to go to the doctor when sick and for regular check-ups.

More Giving: Being a dad can help dad be more giving to family and the community. The involved dad is more likely to be social, volunteer, and spend time doing things like attending church and helping the community.

Success at Work: The involved dad's child is more likely to succeed, to advance, and advance more quickly in his or her career. The skills dad develops while raising a child is the same skill that helps him succeed at work.

Let Jamal's story encourage and remind you that everyone wins when a child has an involved dad. Oh, and, it's never too late to start being involved.

Less Health Insurance In Single-Dad Homes

Children living in single-father households are more likely than those in homes headed by a single mother or a married couple to lack health insurance, a Census Bureau survey found.

The findings puzzled researchers, given that most socio-economic data shows single-mother homes are one of the most impoverished demographic groups. Census Bureau data for 2001 found the median income for a single-mother home is about $22,000, roughly $10,000 less than for single-father homes.

Genevieve Kenney, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, speculated that many poor single fathers may be unaware of public assistance programs or unwilling to apply for help.

"I'm wondering if single-dad households are just less plugged into public programs," Kenney said.

Specifically, the Census found that kids were uninsured for all of 2001 in just over 20 percent of the 1.5 million families where a single father raised one child, the report found. That compared with 17 percent of 4.5 million single-mother, single-child homes and 10 percent of the 10.3 million comparable married couple homes.

In the 1 million homes where a single father raised two or more children, 17 percent had all children uninsured, compared with 11 percent of the 5 million single-mother homes with two or more kids, and 7 percent of the 17.4 million comparable married couple homes.

The 2000 Census found the number of families led by a man living with one or more of his children, but without a wife, increased 62 percent from 1990, to nearly 2.2 million.

John R. Sims, Jr., president of the Pittsburgh-based Single and Custodial Fathers Network, said too few programs are targeted to those households.

"There is no support for single fathers, absolutely none," Sims said.

The data was part of a Census Bureau report that offered more detailed characteristics of children with and without health insurance in 2001. Findings were based on a national survey of 78,000 households conducted in March 2002.

The bureau previously reported that 9.2 million children, or 12.1 percent of all kids, lacked health coverage for the entire year. The rate had risen over the 1990s to 15.4 percent in 1998, but has declined steadily since then.

The National Center for Health Statistics found a similar decline in a survey it released last year, though it found a smaller number of uninsured kids -- 7.2 million without insurance between January and June of 2002.

Congressional Budget Office analysts in May said that Census Bureau estimates of the uninsured may be overstated because census respondents are asked to report their circumstances during the previous year, but often end up describing their current situation.

Regardless, experts largely attribute the insurance gains to a 1997 federal law that established the state Children's Health Insurance Program, which offers subsidized coverage to more than 5 million kids. The program targets mainly children whose families are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but either can't afford private insurance or work in jobs that don't offer health coverage.

Medicaid covers 30 million people in low-income families, including one in five U.S. children. While most beneficiaries are children and their parents, the bulk of the money is spent on the elderly and disabled.

Most states aren't cutting the number of kids in the CHIP program, though some have frozen enrollments or have eliminated optional coverages, such as for parents, said Leah Oliver, policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"States have been reluctant to cut CHIP," Kenney said. "They are politically very popular."

Another study released last month from the Urban Institute found that 2 million fewer children received health insurance from private insurers between 1999 and 2002, as more companies dropped benefits for workers and their families.

The economic downturn in 2002 and the state budget problems that accompanied it may level off the decline in uninsured children, Kenney said.

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