father and daughter

7 Best Things About Being Raised By My Single Dad

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Jon Willamson/Shutterstock

For most of my childhood, I was raised by my single dad. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great relationship with my mom and the best step mom a girl could ask for, but my dad was definitely the biggest influence on me growing up. Back in the day, single dads were a rare find. My dad was the only single father in our area, a fact that he takes pride in to this day. Basically, being raised by my single dad was the shiznit, and in honor of Father’s Day, here are the reasons why.

7. I was taught a lot of “guy stuff”

Nowadays things are different and the gender divide isn’t as pronounced. But growing up when and where I did (the mostly conservative Midwestern U.S.), girls were expected to be girls and boys were boys. It’s bullshit, but that’s how it was. But not for me. My dad saw no problem with teaching me how to change the oil in our car or fix a leaky toilet. The way he saw it, it was practical information that all people should know.

6. But he made sure I knew the stereotypical “girl stuff” too

No one hates sex and gender stereotypes as much as my dad, but this wasn’t always the case. Growing up in the 1960’s, my dad was raised to see men as men and women as ornamental servants and baby makers. But all this changed as he got older, and now he sees work that was traditionally “women’s work” as stuff everyone should know, just like changing oil or fixing leaks. And he had no problem learning how to cook and do laundry that didn’t come out all shrunk and pink, and teaching me to do the same.

5. We learned from each other

My dad wasn’t just a single dad, he was a young single dad with little experience with kids. He accidentally called himself “Uncle Kenny” for ages because he couldn’t get used to being someone’s DAD. In a lot of ways we grew up together and that worked out just fine for us.

4. He had to figure stuff out on the fly

Since my dad was so inexperienced, he basically had to figure out everything on the fly. From my first ballet classes to my first period (boy, that was awkward), he was on his own and not about to let me see him sweat. This fostered a spirit of independence for me that I carry with me to this day.

3. The judgement gave me a thick skin

For most of my childhood, until my step mom came in the picture and our family once again “looked right” to the average Nosy Nellie, we had to deal with concern trolls and their fake, bullshit “worries” for our unconventional family unit. Either this, or the faux-respect bordering on pity for my dad “doing it all on his own with no woman.” My dad never expected a pat on the shoulder for raising me. I am his kid and that’s his damn job. All the over-wrought kudos for doing the right thing rubs him the wrong way.

2. I was a priority and always felt worthy

My dad comes from a different era. Nowadays single fatherhood is less uncommon and stigmatized, but back in the day he was the only single dad around, and he took a lot of flack for it. Plenty of his buddies suggested sending me “home” aka to my grandmother’s house, so he could “move on” and find a new wife. But he didn’t want to be with any woman who would consider me baggage, and “home” as far as he considered it, was with him.

1. Life was always an adventure

Since it was just the two of us, and my dad never felt the need to conform to other people’s expectations of how our lives should be, we did a lot of adventuring when I was little. Four hundred mile “Sunday drive” to St. Louis? Why not? Buying random cheap plane tickets to Chicago just to say we’ve been there? Let’s get to it! It was us against the world and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

(Photo: Jon Willamson/Flickr)