Ask Amy: Single dad of toddlers seeks grown-ups

July 27, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am a 39-year-old divorced father of 3-year-old twins. I have them 50 percent of the time.

I cherish being a parent. But I struggle with finding time for me. My family lives 10 hours away, and the friends I had in my current city are at a different point in their lives.

Basically I feel really alone. I don’t work in a traditional office, and the weeks I don’t have my boys, I am on the road doing my best to provide for our future.

I am in sales, so I don’t have any issues with talking to and meeting new people, but I’m challenged to translate this into my life as a single dad.

I work from my house, so I don’t have an office to interact with other adults. I’ve been told that it will be easy to meet a woman at the park, library and (if you can believe it) at the grocery store, but how does one wrangle toddlers and meet somebody new? I’m not even sure that’s appropriate behavior, and when I have my kids, it’s 100 percent about them.

I don’t want to go on a dating site. I miss having that person I can call to talk about my day. I have tremendously rewarding experiences with my boys, and it would be nice to share those with somebody else.

It seems as if all my old friends have these great families, and I constantly see pictures of their intact families doing wonderful things. I know it’s selfish, but it makes me feel more alone. How do I break this cycle? -- Rudderless Father

DEAR FATHER: My prescription is that before you find a woman, you should have more dads in your life.

According to census data, in 2010 an estimated 20 percent of fathers with children under the age of 5 took care of the kids at home. Job losses account for some of this statistic, but so does personal choice.

Search for listings for father’s groups in your area or use your sales and marketing skills to try to form one (check out the site athomedads.org). Having a supportive group of friends (or even one friend) will take the edge off your loneliness.

Also reassess where you live. I assume you need to live close to the kids’ mother, but even switching neighborhoods could bring you in proximity to more at-home parents, which translates into more encounters, more conversations and more friendships.

Enroll the kids in preschool this fall. The moms at school will be thrilled to find a devoted single dad in their midst. They’ll hook you up with other dads — and dates.

DEAR AMY: We recently lost a parent after a long illness.

The visitation and funeral service were on a Saturday morning. We invited all in attendance to a luncheon at a local restaurant (as is our custom). When I examined the itemized bill, I was upset to find a bar tab of more than $150. Further inspection showed that $100 of it came from three couples alone.

Amy, there were 32 people at the luncheon. Am I wrong to find this inappropriate and inconsiderate behavior? After all, this was a funeral luncheon, not a night on the town. -- Old-Fashioned

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: I agree that six people accounting for two-thirds of the cost of alcohol at your lunch sounds excessive, but — honestly — this amount could be spent by each person in this group consuming 11 / 2 glasses of wine.

For a long lunch on a Saturday, this does not seem too outrageous.

It would have been most considerate for this particular group to realize their consumption and quietly pick up the tab for their drinks.

DEAR AMY: The letter from “Sad Dad” could have been written by me.

Sad married a woman who didn’t want to have anything to do with his kids. He thought she would change. Of course, she didn’t.

Unfortunately, this father is going to learn the same lesson I learned: He shouldn’t have married her. -- Also a Sad Dad

DEAR ALSO: Marrying someone thinking she will change her attitude about something so basic is a very risky proposition.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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