Managing Yourself as a Single Parent
Raising a child, they say takes a village. When you are a single parent there is no denying the fact that you need to deal with a host of challenges and pressures. From juggling work and childcare to worrying about the lack of male or female presence in the child’s life, there is a gamut of things you are dealing with.
The positive news, however, is that children raised by single parents can be as happy and grounded as parents living with both their biological parents. All you need to ensure is that your parenting is nurturing and responsive. Here are some things to watch out for:
This is important for all children, more so if you are a single parent who has recently undergone a separation. At this stage, you could expect some challenging behavior from the child as well, be it throwing tantrums or not eating enough. The important bit is to acknowledge the child’s feelings. Encourage him or her to put his feelings into words and assure them that you are listening. However make it clear that while his or her feelings are acceptable, inappropriate behavior is not.
Set clear rules & boundaries
Very often, to make up for the absence of the other parent, you land up relaxing a host of rules for the child. Do remember that clear rules and boundaries, in fact, give the child a sense of security. It is therefore important to be consistent with your rules and to follow them through. This, of course, isn’t in any way to suggest that you set up harsh rules just because you are a single parent. The rules need to be age-appropriate and relevant. You also need to choose your battles carefully so that you do not land up draining yourself on small issues.
Make the most of everyday moments
Bedtime storytelling, board games, an adventure trip- there can be enough and smaller moments that you can relish together. Ever so often, the mistake we make is that we look for big markers of happiness when happiness really lies in making the most of the day-to-day moments. Talking about the child’s favorite things, offering praise, having authentic conversations, can all ensure that your separation or single parenthood does not become an overarching theme for the child.
One thing that helps children cope with change is routine. It is the predictability that can go a long way in lowering stress. Whether it is a bedtime routine or even a weekend routine, ensure you build in as much predictability in their lives.
Build a support system
Being a single parent does not mean that you have to literally handle everything alone. Build a strong support system of family and friends. It ensures that the child has people around and also that you have a support mechanism and are not left overwhelmed. In fact, do make it a point to ask for help and not get subsumed with the desire to be a super parent and manage everything yourself. If there is one thing you need to learn, it is that it is okay to ask for help.
Above everything, it is important to instill an attitude of gratitude in the children so that they do not view life from the perspective of lack. You need to teach the children to appreciate what they have. This can be done in various ways, the most important of them being walking the talk. Encourage the children also to maintain a gratitude journal where they pen down what they are thankful for, every single day!
Make some time for yourself. This may not sound like typical parenting advice but will impact a host of things in life including parenting. You cannot give from an empty cup, they say. It is, imperative, therefore, that you nurture yourself with some me time, for you to be able to give your best in all your relationships, including parenting