LIMESTONE — Men who are taking on the single-parent role is increasing.
More than 2.5 million households are managed by a single father, a significant increase from 1960 when that number was fewer than 300,000, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center analysis.
This means that males now manage about a quarter of all single-parent families.
These figures are no surprise to Limestone’s Matt Swick, who last year left the mother of his child and decided to take on the majority of the parenting duties by taking his then 3-year-old daughter Alyvia with him.
“Things simply changed in the relationship I had with Alyvia’s mother after Alyvia was born, and I didn’t want my daughter growing up with two parents who would fight all the time,” Swick said, “I have cared for Alyvia since the day she was born, so I feel that I did what was best for Alyvia. Everything that I do, I think of Alyvia first.”
He admits that choosing to move out of the apartment he shared with his Alyvia’s mother, and deciding to raise his daughter on his own were difficult decisions to make.
“Those decisions presented a lot of tough-to-swallow changes in our lives,” Swick said, noting his daughter had never gone a day without spending time with both of her parents before his split from Alyvia’s mother.
“It was very hard on me when the day after we left Alyvia asked why she wasn’t going to see her mommy every day anymore. She just didn’t understand what had happened,” he said while attempting not to become too choked up. “From that moment, I made it my mission to make it so Alyvia wouldn’t become too sad over what was such a confusing situation for her.”
To help with the extreme adjustment to his daughter’s daily life, Swick switched his college degree focus from becoming a doctor to training for a career as a phlebotomist.
“This isn’t how I envisioned life for Alyvia to be, but I’m going to make the best of it,” he said. “I needed to do something so I could make a decent amount of money quickly, so I can give Alyvia the best of everything. I grew up with practically nothing, so I want to give her as much as possible.”
Once established in the phlebotomy field, Swick managed to design a work schedule that allows him to spend as much time as humanly possible — five to six evenings a week — with his little girl.
“We have our date nights where we will dress each other in fancy clothing and go to dinner and/or a movie,” he continued. “Sometimes, I’ll let her paint my nails — well, not my fingers nails. It’s so much fun, and she’s doing great. She knows what she can get away with and what she can’t do.”
The alterations Swick has had to make in his life to provide for his daughter are minor compared to the challenges he faces with trying to raise a child of the opposite sex, he said.
“Clotheswise, I don’t know what to buy her half of the time. She’s only four, and I don’t know whether or not a bikini underwear is appropriate,” he said with a laugh. “Trying to fit her for the clothing that I want to buy for her, teaching her how to use the potty and how to take a bath or a shower are a couple of the challenges. I don’t want to leave her alone in a bathroom or dressing room. Who know’s what kind of trouble she might get into. She is a great kid, though, so she might be OK in those situations.”
Swick seems to think his daughter will be OK doing a lot on her own. She’s extremely intelligent and is already doing a lot of activities independently, he said, but he wants to be there whenever he can to provide a helping hand.
“My father — he was an alcoholic — was rarely around for me when I was a child, and my mother was always working so she could put food on the table,” he said. “I give my mom a lot of credit for doing what she did. She had to.
“I tried to build a relationship with my dad when I got older, but he disappointed me so many times,” Swick continued. “Well, I don’t want my daughter to ever feel the sadness I felt when my father let me down. I will be there for her always.”
Swick encourages Alyvia’s mother — she lives roughly five hours away from Limestone — to be there for their child, too.
“Even though I have Alyvia most of the time, and her mother and I aren’t together anymore, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a relationship with her mother,” he said. “Yes, it was tough in the beginning for her mother and I to get along after we broke up. We were both upset, but we’re working on it.”
The pair have joint custody Alyvia and are working towards co-parenting so Alyvia knows both her parents care about her.
“There is no sense in fighting, because it may have a negative impact on Alyvia,” he said. “So, I just try to go with the flow, and do my best to deal with things.”
During the times Alyvia is visiting her mother, Swick tries to keep busy by hanging out with friends or working, but even after a year of having time to adjust to the visitation schedule, it’s still hard for him to be away from his daughter, he said.
“I miss Alyvia so much when she is away. I haven’t been away from her for more than four days at a time since she was born,” he said. “But, when she comes home and I see her running towards me — her curly, blonde hair bouncing around — I still tear up. I’m just so happy. She’s my whole world.”
For Father’s Day, Swick reminds all dads to make their kids a priority, always put their child’s needs and wants before their own, ask for assistance when times get tough while raising the children and do as much as they can for their children.
“The best thing we can do for our children is provide them with a happy healthy home, so they will be happy and healthy,” he said. “That’s what I’m doing for Alyvia, and she’s a very happy little girl. I’m so lucky to have her in my life.”
(Contact reporter Darlene M. Donohue at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @DarleneMDono.)
Source: Single Parenting - Google News