From the moment we fall pregnant or your partner becomes pregnant, we are dealt a big blow of responsibility. Suddenly you are responsible for more than just yourself, and it is a bigger responsibility than you feel for your partner, because this little being is completely dependent on you and your partner. This is if you have a partner. Single parenting is becoming very common not just because of divorce or death of a spouse, but more recently out of choice. Being part of a team of two, who try our utmost to raise our daughters, I find it difficult to even fathom how challenging it must be to do it all on your own.
Single parenting requires dedication and willingness to sacrifice for your children. Most single parents are the only source of income in the family – therefore financial sacrifices are going have to be made. These financial restrictions are sometimes very difficult for children to understand, and mostly the parent start skimping on their own needs.
Being a single parent means that there is only one adult to make the difficult decisions regarding raising children. A single parent do not have the luxury of throwing their hands into the air and saying: “It is now your turn to make a decision”.
As the only adult in the house this parent now have to take on two roles – that of being mother and father. I do believe that lately the traditional roles assigned to parents have become blurred, but ultimately both roles need to be fulfilled. Jumping from having to discipline to nurture in the same breath can be exhausting!
Things I believe can help a single parent:
- It is important to take time to communicate with your child – ask about what happened at school, with friends, sport, etc. Be involved with their extra mural activities – be their number one fan!
- Tell your child what is happening in your life – good and bad. He must know that even though you are in control, that it is sometimes difficult being the only parent in the house. It would be good to model to your child that is ok to miss the other parent.
- Be honest – the truth always comes out. The reasons for being a single parent should be discussed with your child if he asks about it. Just be sure to address it in an age appropriate manner.
- Both parents are important to a child – Never speak ill of the other parent.
- Get involved in your own life and activities again, even if it is difficult. Best way to start of is to do it when your child is at school or busy with other activities, therefore they will not feel neglected and you build a social life for yourself again. This will help you to keep sane!
- Ask for help when you need – grandparents, brothers or sisters and friends are worried about you and would like to help without looking like they want to interfere. Ask and you will receive help.
- Do not over protect your children – they can and would like to take on new responsibilities in the new family setting. Empower them to help you run the household smoothly.
- Even if difficult – you will only be able to move on with your life when you have forgiven your ex. I do realize it takes time and sometimes outside help to achieve this, but it will benefit you and your children in the future.
- All your children are struggling to adjust. It is very important to give equal attention to all of them. Some children act out and others withdraw, it is easy to give all your attention to the one that is acting out and inadvertently not give enough attention to the child who seems to be coping.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself, then you will not disappoint the children or feel guilty about not living up to promises that you made. You are only one person trying to do the job made for two people.
- Your children should know that you are the authority figure in the house. They are allowed to give input into decisions, but the ultimate decision is yours.
- Although, many single parents will say where do you think I should get the time for this, it is sometimes beneficial emotionally and socially to become part of a single parents support group.
As mentioned, I am not a single parent, but I am an adult that is going through my parents divorce. Please share advice and dilemmas that you as a single parent experience.