17 June 2019 ... min read Listen

People think I’m crazy to raise three girls on my own

I’ve been looking after my three beautiful daughters since my divorce five years ago. They spend half of the week with me. At first I didn’t know what to expect. I was looking at how to organise things, find a new balance in life and wondering whether I needed support. But in the end I decided to do it all myself. I was a full-time father before the divorce and wanted to stay a full-time father afterwards.

My children are my first priority. For me, that means they have my full attention and commitment when they’re with me. I cook their meals, clean the house. I coach their sports teams (hockey and volleyball) and try to be present at all the important events in their life.

Being a single dad is a demanding job and next to that I am a product owner of two squads, working on Profile, ING’s account management system for all consumer loans, savings, current account transactions and interest calculations.

I work 36 hours a week at the office, but also often from home. The way we’re organised helps me to balance my work and home life. Before, we contributed as individuals, now the work is more team/squad focused. Related to that, the agile Way of Working puts more responsibility lower in the organisation, which makes it easier for me as a product owner to organise things in a way I can handle them.

I try to make sure ING doesn’t suffer from what’s going on at home – and the other way round. I like to keep a clear distinction between work and my private life. When they are in balance, I get a lot of energy, both as an ING employee, but also as a proud father.

Single mums more accepted

I get plenty of support from colleagues. My youngest daughter, who is eight, has scoliosis, a back condition, and often has to go to hospital. My squad accepts that sometimes I can’t be in the office because I have to be with her. I compensate by working on other days or in the evenings.

There’s more recognition for single mothers. It’s more accepted that a woman takes care of the children. I don’t know of other single fathers in the same situation. Sometimes, people think I’m crazy to spend so much time taking care of my children, especially my friends, who try to get me to go out and do fun stuff.

People with children know how demanding it is being a parent, and it’s even more so when you are a single parent. But I’m happy with the choices I make. The most appreciation I get is from my children, and that is most important to me.

My eldest daughter recently moved out to study, but still comes home regularly when her sisters are here. I’m proud of how well they have coped since the divorce and how they’ve stayed on their feet. I think it’s also because me and my ex-wife still have good contact and try to communicate about what we think is important.

My advice to my daughters? Make sure you can do it on your own. My motto in life is ‘roots and wings’. Roots that give strength and a foundation, a home, stability, a solid grounding. Wings are there to discover, to change, to explore the world, to investigate. This is the most important thing I can give them to prepare them for adult life. It’s what guides me through the days, both at work as well as privately.

Free to be yourself

People are most motivated when they are free to be their whole selves. That’s why we celebrate inclusion and value a diverse workforce. It’s not just a box to be ticked. It’s fundamental to our future success. Find out more about Diversity and inclusion at ING.

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