March 21st is Single Parents Day! To celebrate, we checked in with some single gay men in our community to sound off on what life is like while parenting solo — the good, the challening and everything in between.
Daniel, Los Angeles California
A skill every single parent should have is humility, says Daniel, a single gay dad, through open adoption, who lives in Los Angeles. "Nothing ever goes quite as planned and life is ever changing — We have a responsibility to our kid(s) to teach them to roll with the punches with a smile."
The best advice he's received since he's become a parent? "Enjoy every moment," Daniel said, adding that it "takes a village" to raise children, so it's also important to have a support system.
As for one misconception about single parents, Daniel said he just wished others understood how much more work it can be at times. "From laundry and house chores to work to all the school memos and homework and concerts/sports etc," he said. "It's just a LOT!"
Despite the effort, fatherhood was clearly just part of his destiny, he said. "Dad jokes just come naturally!"
Adam, Dallas, Texas
"You've got to leave plenty of room for grace w'hen the going gets tough," said Adam, who became a father via former straight relationship, and lives in Dallas, Texas. If you love your kids and are kind to yourself everything else falls into place."
One of his greatest strengths he's developed as a single dad, he said, is his ability to really listen to his boys. "I making them feel like they are important because they are," he said. "Kids can get excited about even the smallest things and I like to celebrate their curiosity. If you listen to your kids they'll teach you everything you need to know. I love their perspective and know I'm better off from all the conversations I have with them."
For others interested in single fatherhood, Adam had this by way of advice to share: "Being their boss and being their best friend doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. I want my boys to think I'm a ton of fun and for us to laugh together every day but I also know kids need rules and structure. I thought that you had to be either a strict parent or a fun parent but the truth is single parents have to be both."
The best advice he's received personally is to enjoy every single moment of parenthood, the good bad and the ugly. "They grow up really fast so enjoy every moment, even the days where bedtime can't come soon enough."
Romayne, Chicago, Illinois
"It really takes a special person to be a single dad," said Romayne, who lives with his son in Chicago, Illinois. "I started out as a foster dad and had to deal with birth parents, birth grandparents, social workers and the inevitable questions of where was my wife!"
To other gay men considering embarking on fatherhood solo, "Don't ever be afraid to ask for help." Romayne receives a lot of that support, he said, from Nanu. "My son's name for my mom," he explained. It's also important to prioritize yourself, he said. "Always find time for self-care, whether it be speaking with a therapist, retail therapy, volunteering, sneak out for a drink or all of the above. I find that I tend to center everything round my son and seeing as he came to me later in life, I don't have much of a social life. Now, I'm perfectly fine with that, but I do need the occasional stimulation of a conversation not centered on Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies and Monster Jam!"
Lastly, Romayne said he wished more men would set their fear aside and become dads if it's something they really want out of life. "In a perfect world we would all have partners/ husbands to go along with our children, house, dog and cat," he said. "But in actuality four out of five ain't bad. Also, you have the unconditional love of someone that thinks you are their entire universe."
The best piece of advice Santiago about parenting as a single man was this: "Block out lots of advice," he said. "It can be overwhelming!" The most important thing to do, he said, is "take care of you so you can take care of your baby."
Santiago, who became a dad via surrogacy and lives with his son, Santino, in Guadalajara, Mexico, said he has a pretty good handle on parenting as a single man, but he also doesn't pretend to know everything. He simply tries to "be open to learning day by day and not judge myself in the process."
Also? He tries to have as much fun with fatherhood as possible. "Someone once told me a happy parent equals a happy baby," he said.
Similar to other single dads, he also stressed the importance of building a solid support system to help you in times of need. "It takes a village to raise and take care of a baby, so surround yourself with friends and family," he said. "It is ok to ask for help."
The best advice David received about single parenthood, he said, was to make sure you don't go through all the hassle of becoming a parent, only to miss special moments. "Another gay dad encouraged me to take off work to join my kids on their school field trips," David said, for example. "It totally opened me up to their world and they are so so happy when I get to chaperone."
David become a dad while married to a woman who sadly died of cancer when his kids were just 1 and 3 years old. "I've been solo parenting ever since and came out to them last year. "Today, his kids are 9 and 11, and they live together in San Diego, California.
As for the best advice he has to give to other single parents: "Treat yo self!" David said. "Ya gotta have that ice cream or special treat that you know you love and need after a long day of single parenting."
On what it's like to parent solo, David said, "I wish more people knew that being a single dad means my kids miss out on twice the love, twice the snuggles, twice the band aid giving, twice the smiles and laughs, and twice of everything that comes with a two parent household or dual parenting situation cuz there's just one of me."
"You need to be a master of time management," said Diego, on life as a single dad. "Try establishing a routine as much as possible — wake up time, breakfast, playtime, bedtime." He clarified that this doesn't mean that you can adapt through the days, "but it makes it easier when your kids know what to expect — kind of."
The strongest parenting quality he's developed as a single dad, he said, is striking the right balance between being a friend and a father. "He knows that I love him to the moon and he is the most important person for me," Diego said. "But I also put limits."
For other single gay men considering parenthood, Diego stressed the importance of taking time for yourself. "It's not selfish and there is no need to feel guilty about it," he said. "You need to take care of yourself: go to the gym, spend some time with your friends. Having this time is important for you and your family - plus, you deserve it!"
The biggest misconception of single parenthood, he said, is that people think it's miserable. "Being a single dad is fun!" Diego said. "Yes, it's hard but all the positives that come with it are much better. I can tell you that as a single dad you create such an amazing bond with your kid! Every person is different but personally, I'm sure becoming a single dad was the BEST decision for me."