I separated from my wife in early 2015 and we were divorced in 2019. Thankfully this was a very amicable situation and I am deeply indebted to my ex-wife for being a wonderful mum, caregiver and a good friend.
From the outset of our relationship break-up, we put our differences aside and decided to put our son first and foremost. We tried to keep his “new normal” as normal as possible. We committed to raising him jointly with any decisions pertaining to him being mutually discussed and agreed.
When he was younger he would spend every weekend with me and then as he got older it went to every second weekend – as he got more and more into sport and wanted to spend time with his friends. As he has turned into a fully fledged teenager, I now see him when his time permits. I have no issue with that as long as he is happy – I always focus on putting his needs ahead of my own.
In my eyes, my time with him is precious and I spend that time solely focused on us.
I was given very sage advice when I became a single parent and it was “never make a promise you know you cannot keep”. Thankfully I’ve stayed true to that and I think it’s formed the basis of our strong relationship.
We have gone on holidays, just the two of us and had a ball. The balance I found is to do something he likes, something I like and then something we enjoy together. At the end of the day he may be my son but it’s still a relationship with give and take and has to be worked on.
Introducing a new partner
I have always had a personal rule that I would not introduce him to a new partner unless she and I have been in a relationship for over 12 months. I don’t want people coming in and out of his life. It’s a very confusing time for kids as it is. I have introduced him to one former partner and it wasn’t as bad as I though. Initially, my son had reservations but once he realised he was still number one, he adjusted well.
Lessons in single parenting
The biggest lesson I have learned – and I am still learning throughout this whole process – is that children are way more perceptive and clued in than you might think. Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes, they will not thank you for it. Try and be as honest as possible with them, believe me they know more than you think.
For more advice and stories from single fathers like Tony, check out our article on introducing a new partner.