Parenting is tough enough for couples, but try doing it alone.
For the past five years, Bill Gerding has been raising two daughters, ages 9 and 13, on his own.
“You think about the simple responsibilities of running a household,” said Gerding, a Southeast Christian Church member. “Cooking, cleaning, laundry, bath time, bedtime, breakfast time, getting them up, getting them ready for school, getting them home from school—all of those different things that are easier to do as a team, but now when my kids are with me, that’s my responsibility. Being a father comes first.”
“It’s all on you,” added Southeast member Paul Dillon, who is raising 12- and 15-year-old girls. “Getting to school. Getting your work done … I mean cleaning is crazy at my house. If you go two days without sweeping, there’s like a pile. So, no more shared responsibilities per se. We have our kids 90% of the time. We know it’s not the same for all the dudes out there.”
Gerding and Dillon, who are both divorced, are co-leaders of the Single Dads Huddle, a support group that meets in WC 238 at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus on the first and third Sundays of the month at 9 a.m.
The group welcomes all single dads, whether divorced, separated, widowed or never married.
It’s for single dads who have their kids the majority of the time or every other weekend.
“When we come together in that room, it’s like all the fronts that we have to put up on the outside world just come down,” Gerding said. “We’re honest, and we have some really great conversations about things we’re struggling with. Raising kids, regardless of whether you’re married, single, widowed, is challenging with all the stuff kids have today that we didn’t.”
The group’s goal is to connect single fathers and to equip them with a Biblically-based parenting model to raise up the next generation of Christ followers.
The Single Dads Huddle is currently reading through “Tough Stuff Parenting: Helping Your Kids Navigate Faith and Culture” by Paul Basden and Jim Johnson. The book discusses topics such as partying, divorce and suicide.
But, more than that, the group is a journey together in transparency.
“I told the guys from the get-go that I don’t want this to just be a class that they come to every other week,” Gerding said. “I want this to be community, fellowship, brotherhood. I want us to do life together. We’ve built a solid core of guys. I remember at one point I told the guys, ‘You know the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, I’m not a village. I just want us to all do life together.’”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 2 million U.S. households are headed by a single father.
“The job of being a parent was not meant to be a one-person job … it was meant to be done as a team and community,” Gerding said. “We’re in a situation where we don’t have the spouse to be a team or another adult in the household to help us with the tough stuff like discipline or when we have to sit our kids down and have a tough conversation with them. But we have each other, where we can prepare each other and process through, ‘OK, how are we best going to handle this and keep this tough situation Christ-centered?’”
Gerding, who also leads Southeast’s Divorce Support Group, said the Single Dads Huddle was born out of necessity.
“Through that Divorce Support Group, we steer a lot of women to the single moms groups,” he said. “They get a ton of support, which they deserve, but there were so many times the guys would ask, ‘Well, what about us single dads?’”
Dillon, who has been a single dad for about three years, said they want guys to know they don’t have to go it alone.
“I want them to know that the enemy is trying his hardest to isolate them and keep them from getting in community with like-minded dudes,” Dillon added.
For more information, contact Gerding at (502) 243-7647 or email@example.com.