NEW YORK (MainStreet) According to a Pew Research demographic study, approximately 24% of single-parent households are now headed by single fathers, which, if that number isn't surprising enough, is a dramatic difference from the 14% in 1960. In light of Father's Day 2014, it's about time we shed some light on the dads that do it all themselves. While most of the publicity surrounding single-parent households is geared towards single moms, the amount of single dads running the show has been increasing substantially in recent years -- presenting a distinct set of financial challenges.
Also See: How to Keep Your Father's Day Spending Low and Loving
When it comes to poverty and financial troubles in single-parent households, numbers show that single dads have a lower poverty percentage when compared to single moms. While that can be chalked up to the fact that many women, especially those that are younger and less educated, make lower overall salaries than their male counterparts, it is obvious that single parents all around have a higher chance of poverty than married couples because they simply have one income to support themselves and their child or children.
However, while demographics and percentages are definitely eye-opening, they don't exactly explain what single fathers go through in order to be good parents. What are some of the biggest difficulties that single dads face? Have they handled their lives thus far in a way that allows for a sense of accomplishment? These are some of the real questions that we want to know the answers to, and thanks to a few single dads, we have them!
While the poverty percentage for single dads may be lower than that for single moms, this does not mean to say that single fathers have it any easier. Many single fathers feel that our judicial system seems to emotionally support single mothers more than it does single fathers. Brenden Dilley, a 32-year-old life and relationship coach and author of Still Breathin': The Wisdom & Teachings of a Perfectly Flawed Man, explains that he has experienced first-hand how fathers are largely treated as a bonus in a child's life as opposed to a necessity. Being raised by a single mother himself, Dilley does not blame the mothers in the situations at all, but rather the way that the courts and hearings are structured.
"When I was in front of the judge for my daughters' child custody hearing, I was spoken to and treated like a common criminal," Dilley explains. With no criminal history whatsoever, Dilley explains that it was quite disheartening to feel that, for whatever reason, the odds are automatically stacked against single fathers. Dilley notes that he spent most of his late 20s and early 30s financially and emotionally waging this battle, but through the struggle, the outcome was worth it. He now aims to help thousands of men and women around the globe to persevere through their own anguish and setbacks to be the best person they can be, and in his case, to be the best father he can be to his kids.
Another single dad took it upon himself to completely change his life's planned direction upon having a child at a young age. Devin Gage's daughter, now three years old, was born the night before his college graduation. Now a 25-year-old single dad, he went to school with the hopes of having a career in law enforcement afterwards. Upon graduation, Gage realized that he was going to need a career that provided him with more flexibility since he was going to be the primary caregiver for his daughter. Always having a passion for fitness, Gage had previous experience working as a strength trainer through college. He decided to use this experience in opening his own gym.
Beginning with next to nothing dumbbells, tires, and other homemade equipment in a dirty old warehouse Gage explains that starting up was tough. He recalls bringing his daughter to his early morning training sessions, sometimes holding her throughout the entire session so that she wouldn't cry. While the business was still getting off the ground, he also worked a full-time job at a shipping warehouse. He was lucky enough to have his mother living within a 40-minute commute to care for his daughter while he was at work, but for the most part, Gage lived with only himself and his daughter in his one-bedroom apartment. When asked about his biggest accomplishment, he explained that he has turned that "homemade gym" in that old warehouse into a successful, profitable business in a 4,000 square foot facility, all while living life as a single dad and being a good role model and inspiration for his daughter.
When one parent is responsible for running the whole show, having enough time to build a relationship with the child or children while also singlehandedly building a life for all involved is overall the biggest challenge. Evan Stein is a 47-year old single dad of three young girls, ages seven, six, and three. He is also the president and owner of CMIT Solutions of Wall Street and Grand Central, an information technology service provider for the small- and medium-sized business communities. Stein explains that he is fortunate enough that his job allows for flexible hours and enables him to experience all that a father wants to experience with his kids, such as school concerts, class trips and various after-school activities. While being able to do all of these parental activities in addition to running a business sounds like a dream come true, Stein explains that, as with everything, the combined life comes with its fair share of challenges. When asked his biggest obstacle, Stein responded with trying to successfully balance all of the commitments in his life. While his business is based in New York City, he resides in Vermont, and also has a serious girlfriend who lives in New York as well. He admits that balancing the three main aspects of his lifework, home, and personalis difficult and choices need to be made at times that may be necessary for one part but hinder the other.
As a single parent, he tries to be as open and honest as possible with his daughters so they understand that his attention is required by different people in his life. "They're never happy when I need to answer a call or send an email while we're together," Stein explains. "But they know that the clients are important because I made a promise to keep their computers working, and we don't break our promises."
Most single dads do not have the life of Danny Tanner in the popular sitcom "Full House." The dads pictured here are proof of that, as are all of the others that fall within the 24% running single-parent households. The life of a single parent is a struggle, but as the dads above explain, it is definitely a rewarding one.
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet