10 Tips For Effective Single Parenting For Dads

Today I'm happy to introduce guest blogger Ben Klempner, LMSW, founder and editor of Effective Family
.  On his blog, Ben provides up-to-date, reliable
information and resources to help strengthen and improve relationships and
overall well-being. Inspired by my article For Divorced Dads: Seven Useful Links, Ben generously contributed this guest post…

Too often the first question that comes to mind when someone meets a divorced dad is whether or not he's meeting his alimony payments. Divorced or separated fathers who are dedicated to their children are in tremendous pain (whether they show it or not) wanting nothing more than to provide for the physical, emotional, and mental needs of their children. 

The following ten tips provide single dads with some guidance and ideas to maximize the effectiveness and influence of their parenting:

  • Never to bad mouth your children's mother in their presence.
  • Ask your children how their day was and listen attentively to the answer.
  • Help your children with their homework.
  • Know the names of all your children's teachers and the subjects they teach.
  • Know the names of your children's friends and a little something about them (the more you know the better).
  • Have meaningful and instructive experiences with your children that provide a sense of continuity and a sense of routine from visit to visit (like karate or yoga lessons).
  • Know how your children are doing in their school studies and extracurricular activities.
  • Compliment your children on their successes.
  • Keep open lines of communication with your children's other primary caregivers if at all possible.
  • Savor each moment spent with your children.

Do you have more tips? Leave them in the comments below!

Visit Ben Klempner's blog EffectiveFamilyCommunication.com and follow him on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Wisdoc via Flickr


  • I’ve been a Stay At Home Dad for 9 1/2 years. Here are a few things I would suggest.
    1) Don’t cuss around your kids.
    2) Know the name of your kids teachers.
    3) Obey the traffic laws.
    4) Attend your kids events (Student of the Month, Assemblies, Spelling Bee’s)
    5) Coach, Assistant Coach, Team Parent your kids sports teams.
    6) Volunteer in your child’s classroom.
    7) Watch TV with your kid.
    8) Play board games with your kids
    9) Laugh with your kid.
    10) Tell your kid that you love him/her and that you are proud of them.

  • Steve– All great points!!! The last two really jumped out at me the most. Something about sharing a laugh and letting your children know you love them, and are proud of them, leave the longest and most profound lasting impressions.

  • Ben,
    Thanks for the feedback. One of the things I think about is what will my kids remember from their childhood? They may or may not remember individual events (birthday parties, trips to Disneyland,etc) but I know my kids will remember that their Dad told them that he loved them every day, and that he often shared a good laugh with them. Hopefully its the parenting lesson that they pass on to their kids.

  • Treasuring our kids is not giving all he wants but some of it only and giving him what he needs. Let him learn what Daddy’s learn from the life we encountered. I salute all the single father’s out there.

  • Linda Klempner

    Ben, I really appreciate opening up this conversation with your Top 10 List for Single Dads. The urge to disagree, around children’s schedules, activities, etc, with an ex may be unavoidable at times. As another therapist, my suggestion is to stick to email if the kids will end up listening to phone conversations which end in bickering. While kids may not be blind to parental tensions,in the long run it’s so much healthier for them not to be exposed (or learn by example)angry or disrespectful conversation. Effective family communication–whether a single parent, divorced or married–a daily challenge, isn’t it!

  • Medical Advice– I wholeheartedly agree. Certainly one of the most meaningful and instructive experiences a parent is capable of giving a child is, as you say, “not giving all he wants but some of it only and giving him what he needs.” Real life makes for the best classroom.

  • Mom– You bring up a great point that family communication doesn’t end with divorce; if anything, parental communication just gets more complex. Regardless of the marriage situation, effective family communication is a daily challenge for all parents.

  • Dear Ben,
    What you say about “Divorced or separated fathers who are dedicated to their children are in tremendous pain…” couldn’t be more true. What we want these dads to know is that the importance of their role as father does not diminish when their marriage ends. They are just as vital to their kids’ healthy development as they ever were.
    Thanks again for this thoughtful post!

  • Gerred

    As I read your list I thought to myself, this is a great list of any father, not just single ones. For those of us who are fortunate enough to still be married I would take your first one a step further. The most important gift we can give your kids is to love your spouse and treat her with the respect she deserves.
    I spoke to a good friend this weekend who is a single dad. I complimented him on many of the points you made. He has done a great job of putting his daughter first.

  • Dear Gerred,
    Great point!
    For those of us fortunate to still be in our marriages, demonstrating a loving and communicative marriage is certainly the greatest gift we can give to our children.
    P.S. More power to you for complimenting your friend!!!


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