For the longest time, mothers have been seen as nurturers. Just like women have been excluded from conversations outside the home, men have also been asked to step away from what has traditionally been considered a woman’s job – that of raising a child.
So this week on Father’s Day we decided to highlight a section of society that has always been around but not acknowledged often – that of single dads. This week on Kool Kanya, we feature Chetan Shah, a single dad who has raised his 9-year old daughter after his divorce. In this blog, he shares the 5 lessons he learnt as a single dad.
After I separated from my wife, and was left to look after my child alone, I thought things would only get worse… It began to seem like the end of the road …
But in no time, it dawned on me that nothing really ends in life…
What happens instead is that you get an opportunity to grow and evolve… To come out of the cyclical patterns of your current existence, and acquire new survival hacks. Most of these survival hacks are not taught to you by anyone…not your parents or your education, nor is it stuff you pick up at work…
These are hacks you learn by yourself, by rolling up your sleeves and getting down to the task at hand…
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By not shirking responsibilities, but embracing them wholeheartedly, and allowing them to redefine your life and personality. The less you resist what life has thrown at you, the more beautiful your life will become.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get the responsibility of taking care of my daughter alone… Through raising her, I have begun to know life once again…
But more than anything, I have come to know myself better — the different strengths and flaws in me, what I need to work on, and what I need to let go of.
The lessons I’ve learned, have strengthened me, and made me a better person — more complete, tolerant, and accepting of what life has to offer.
Sometimes I think, all it took was an attitudinal shift — to look at life differently and positively, and to solve its problems in new creative ways…
Find below some life hacks that have worked for me as a solo dad
1. Survival is the primary task
Most of life’s actions are targeted — consciously or unconsciously — toward survival and growth…because life is precious and we need to preserve it. As parents, our primary responsibility is to nurture the life we have brought into this world, and do everything for the child’s well-being.
We are given a bunch of tools to understand life, from emotions, to the conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the intellect, which together help us handle a variety of situations. It is up to us how we use these tools and adapt to situations and people. Problems take place when we avoid using these tools for our well-being, and use them instead for frivolous purposes. When our approach toward any problem is more selfless and giving, our children too, follow the same example.
2. Get involved with everything around you
Only when you completely immerse yourself in life, will you enjoy life… Don’t hesitate to try new things with your child; don’t shy away from being a child yourself at times… Show excitement and any other emotion openly.
Also, involve yourself in all your child’s activities, and don’t worry about the outcome…just enjoy the time spent together with your child. Every activity needn’t yield results… Parents tend to worry too much about children, but life has its own way of teaching us… When I had to bring up my child alone, my mother was worried about me. But when I realised life had thrown me a situation for a reason, I simply got completely involved with it — the upbringing of my daughter — and she has turned out to be a beautiful child so far!
3. Happiness and peace matter the most
Do what brings you peace, both at home and at work. Use tools and opportunities around you to bring this awareness into your life. In the initial days, in the absence of my wife — memories of her — were too much to bear. They were like knives poking at me.
But with the help of spirituality, I quickly took control of my emotions, and brought joy back into my life. If I had not done that at the right time, I would be struggling with bringing up my daughter, and also juggling work and home would not be as easy as it is now.
4. Be responsible and act quickly
Responsibility is my ability to respond to the situation on hand. Life constantly throws new challenges our way…it is up to us how we respond to it. When my child was suddenly left with me alone, I had very little knowledge of bringing up a child hands-on. But my survival instincts kicked in… I realised that for life to move smoothly one needs to take timely action to control the situation. Only if steps are not taken on time, does the situation turn into a problem.
How you decide to respond to a situation is also important, because that’s what leads to you becoming who you are. You can either wallow in self-pity, or kick-start your life into action, and work toward the well-being of yourself and those around you.
5. Live in the present, the future is unknown
The past is over and the future is unknown. All you can focus on is today… Hence, it’s best to focus on the present moment, to accept the current situation, and work with it in the best possible way you can.
Spirituality came as a big aid in my life, and helped me deal better with uncertainty and ambiguity. With the help of spirituality, I became ready to take on any eventuality, and juggle many life roles with ease. Once I was comfortable in my own skin, I realised that people too came to my aid more easily.
Spirituality also makes you realize that you are not alone, and you begin to appreciate more the friends, family and support system you have. Spirituality made me grateful for what I already had, and I began to dwell less on what I had lost. By being joyous in the present moment, I also helped secure my child’s well-being.
Life has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride in the past few years. But I’ve realised that if you are true to yourself, and don’t gloss over your life situation, the universe will give you a helping hand… in many ways — through friends, family, your masters, guides and angels…
All you need to do, is be aware and receptive to the signs coming your way, and push yourself to continue on the path set out for you!
Soul Dads is a platform for solo dads to share their experiences. To know more about the blog, write to [email protected], or visit www.souldads.com for more details.
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