If you have been a single father for a while or whether it’s a recent transition, researchers have identified the following struggles which single fathers may experience:

  • Overwhelmed, stressed and arguments with partners
  • Isolation, loneliness and dating
  • Lifestyle choices

Overwhelmed, stressed and arguments with partners

Due to the transition of having a change to the structure of the family, this can leave the parent feeling overwhelmed. This feeling comes about due to the fact that the father would need to fulfill a role which includes providing for himself and his children whilst also looking after their day to day needs. Balancing these two responsibilities might make it  difficult to keep up with everything. In fact, researchers contend that single fathers tend to experience stress much more than single mothers who do the same tasks. Arguments with ex-partners is another contributor to a single fathers stress especially when the relationship did not end well, or when there is a lot of unfinished business.

Isolation, loneliness and Dating

Being a single father can become a lonely endeavour as one might not find the time to try and spend it with others. It might even be the case that the individual does not want to actively take steps to include new people in their lives. There is research that indicates that loneliness leads to both physical and psychological consequences such as; muscle tension, digestive problems, depression and anxiety amongst others!

Therefore it is important to keep in contact with one or two friends in order to have individuals to connect with. As humans we have a natural urge to connect with others, and once this need stops being met the body reacts by presenting the former consequences. If one starts to withdraw from others, it may be an important sign to indicate that there may be issues which need to be explored by a mental health professional.

Dating can be a tedious endeavour which may increase the chances of one isolating himself due to unresolved emotional injuries during other relationships which perhaps did not end well. Also other issues present themselves such as how and when should the children be told about the new partner? It’s true all of this sounds challenging, however it is also worth noting that most of these questions don’t have a concrete solution until you try it out yourself. Keep in mind to try as much as possible to be respectful, keep an open dialogue, be transparent and prepare to get challenged.

Lifestyle choices

Due to all the above some fathers find it difficult to cope and may live an unhealthy lifestyle in which they may not take care of themselves. This can occur on multiple levels:

  • Turn towards unhealthy coping mechanisms such as; alcohol and both illegal or prescription drugs.
  • Do not seek medical assistance when sick.
  • Unhealthy diet.

It is important to note that even though it might seem admirable to look after others first. The reality is that we cannot sustainably care for anyone else until we take care of ourselves first. It would be beneficial if one notices oneself feeling low, if something abnormal is being experienced in your body, or if you seem to feel out of control, seek the opinion of a health care professional who will guide you in a stepwise manner regarding the possible solutions to your problems.


Chiu, M., Rahman, F., Vigod, S., Lau, C., Cairney, J., & Kurdyak, P. (2018). Mortality in single fathers comapred with single mothers and partnered parents: a population-based-cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 3(3). doi:10.1016/s2468-2667(18)30003-3

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.