Meet my friend, Ididia Serfaty, a young man with impressive skills. He can build, fix, repair or design almost anything. He has his pilot’s license and flies his own plane. He is ambitious, hard working and diverse in his interests. But what impresses me most is the dedication with which he is raising his seven-year-old son, Roman, alone.
Single moms are often given applause and admiration for the job of rearing their children by themselves. And rightly so. It’s not an easy task even with two parents involved but tackling the sometimes overwhelming assignment alone is even more daunting. They deserve every bit of attention and affirmation given them.
And so do single dads. The Pew Research Center reports that men are making up a growing number of single parent householders. In 1960, about 14% of single households were headed by fathers. Today almost one quarter (24%) are.
Men are making up a growing number of single parent householders.
Some experts suggest that changes in the legal system have aided fathers in gaining at least partial and sometimes full custody of children in cases of divorce. There has also been somewhat of an evolution in the role of dads in the past few decades. They are no longer seen primarily as an income provider or disciplinarian but have become more hands on caregivers beginning even in a child’s infancy.
Whatever the circumstances leading to the arrangement, single dads who are doing a great job raising their kids have my utmost respect. Ididia Serfaty is one of those dads. Because I’ve had the chance to observe his fathering up close, I felt comfortable approaching him with a few questions about the inner workings of his household.
One of my first questions was regarding the sheer logistics of it all. Because there is no other adult helper in the house, Dad does it all. From the homework to the laundry to the grocery shopping to the bedtime routine, all while simultaneously striving to achieve and succeed in his own professional life as well.
This particular dad describes himself as a conductor who feels that God has supplied him with an orchestra for raising his son. Teachers, coaches (Roman has studied Brazilian jujitsu for the past two years), tutors and grandparents are all part of that orchestra who help make beautiful music of his son’s life.
Although it has its challenges, Ididia tries to capitalize on the positives of their lifestyle. He says there is an ebb and flow in their daily activities which feels natural for them but would be considered out of the ordinary for others. For example, their schedule may be more flexible than some households because it is just the two of them. The dinner hour changes to meet their needs and it’s not uncommon for them to play soccer in the living room, something Ididia laughingly says he knows certain moms would not allow.
“I want my wake to be positive”.
Discipline too is his sole responsibility. Rarely using physical discipline, Ididia prefers to focus on the natural consequences of positive or negative behaviors. The most common outcome of negative behavior is losing privileges. Sometimes scolding is necessary as well, but always with the goal of it being a teaching moment for his son. When his temper flares, as Ididia admits it sometimes does, he is quick to apologize to his son for his own shortcomings. Naturally, he doesn’t want his bad habits to be inherited and, as he puts it, “I want my wake to be positive”.
Being a highly ambitious young man, he admits that his biggest challenge is sometimes being too busy and leaving his son, Roman, behind. As with any parent, it’s a balancing act of wanting to set a good example of being successful and victorious in life and yet slowing down enough to truly connect. For him, those times of connection come when he and his son work on projects together, play chess, watch movies, do homework together or just cuddle at bedtime.
As with any parent, it’s a balancing act of wanting to set a good example of being successful and victorious in life and yet slowing down enough to truly connect.
Nurturing Roman’s spiritual growth is a priority as well. Again, the way this plays out may appear less structured but is definitely a part of the ebb and flow that is their normal. Prayer in the car on the way to school, singing Christian songs together and taking advantage of teachable moments are all part of Roman’s spiritual training.
Ididia’s perspective is that although he is Roman’s earthly father, he will “lose the office of Dad in heaven” and at that point they will both be brothers in Christ. He tries to raise his son with that eternal awareness in mind.
Focusing on his own characteristics is important as well, with teachability and integrity being his top core values. “You can only speak truth if you know truth, and I’m aware that everything I do has a trickle down effect.” As a dad, Ididia Serfaty has adopted the phrase “Live today the right way!”
“You can only speak truth if you know truth, and I’m aware that everything I do has a trickle down effect.”
He speaks with conviction when he says he knows he only has so many breaths on earth and so many opportunities to share with his son. Making the most of those moments is an absolute priority for him.
Proverbs 17:6 says that “parents are the pride of their children“. Seven-year-old Roman, like many young boys, takes great pride in his dad’s abilities and emulates many of his mannerisms. The two of them together are living a life of adventure, a life of learning and a life of grace.
Raising Roman is both a challenge and an honor. Ididia Serfaty accepts and is grateful for both.