Generally, raising a child comes with challenges, but when you are a single parent, these challenges are doubled because you don’t have someone to lean on. People become single parents for many reasons. Some people have children with a partner that is so unreliable, to the point that they feel like a single parent even when they have a spouse. Whatever the case, there are a few tips in this article which you can use to cope with single parenthood.
A single parent is someone who is an uncoupled individual and someone who shoulders the responsibilities of raising a child. Historically, the major cause of single parenthood is death of a partner. Single parenthood can also be the result of unplanned pregnancy and divorce of married parents. Custody battles resulting from divorce determine which parent will have custody of the child for the majority of time. It is most common in the US for a child to be placed in the custody of the primary caregiver, which is usually the mother. The father is usually the secondary caregiver. In the most recent years, however, we have been seeing a rise in the incidence of single women choosing to be single parents. With the changing times, it is now not uncommon for single women to seek getting pregnant intentionally and to become single mothers. Single parent adoption, or sometimes called fostering, is also becoming an option for single people wanting to raise a child on their own.
There is a general increase worldwide in the number of children who live in households raised by a single parent. Majority of these cases are results of divorce and pregnancy out of wedlock. In the United States, being a single parent is fast becoming a norm.
What are the stressors that a single parent may encounter?
- Custody battles and visitation problems when divorce is involved.
- Shouldering most of the day to day responsibilities of raising your child may compromise the actual bonding time that you can spend with your child.
- Continuing the battle outside the court and having constant conflict with your ex-partner may negatively impact your child’s life. It isn’t healthy for you either.
- Extended family relationships may be disrupted.
- Problems may arise when you try dating again or enter a new relationship. Your child may not be able to take it well, if not handled delicately.
Tips on how to cope with raising a child on your own
Single parenting is truly no walk in the park but it is not impossible. Single parents all over the world have been raising children successfully by themselves.Single parenthood may be difficult but, by following these tips, you will be able to cope, and enjoy your children rather than just merely survive through their development.Here are some tips to help you become the best single parent that you can be:
Focus on the important things
The most important thing to a child is the love of the parent. This has to be your first priority. It helps them to adjust to life and grow up to be confident individuals. Every chance you get, you should bond with your child and show them unconditional support. Children are resilient. They are tougher than we give them credit for and they can survive on the most basic of necessities as long as they have a strong bond with their parents. However, without love and a strong connection with their parents, it can be a disaster. Some parents forget this and they run around looking for the best life for their child, but neglect to bond with them, and end up raising unhappy children.
Routines are your friend
Without a routine, parenthood can be a nightmare. This is the case not only for the parent, but also for the child. Children desire stability, and it is through routines that they can establish stability. They feel secure knowing that someone has set a schedule, and it is followed. It makes feeding time and bed time manageable. It is important to have a bonding with your child.
Discipline is important
Children need love and a firm hand. If they don’t know you are boss they will be the boss, and it will be hard to parent them. As a single parent, you need to know that you can tell your child to do something, and they will listen. Discipline has to be inculcated in the child at a young age. If you do this, you will have fewer tantrums and bad behavior which can make being a single parent difficult. Divorced parents should be able to work together when it comes to disciplining their child. Both should agree on the type of discipline that they will enforce so that there will be consistency, making it easier for your child to learn and adapt. Checking out your local library for parenting books might be helpful if you are at a loss. Parenting classes are also sometimes sponsored by your local hospitals and church groups, so be sure to be in the loop and check them out.
As a single parent, you may not always be able to be with your child, so you need to find a good child care person to leave your children with. It’s a crazy world now, and the person you leave your child with should be a qualified caregiver. Don’t leave your child with his sibling unless you cannot avoid it. This robs many children of the opportunity of being children as they are busy taking care of their sisters and brothers. Take care that your caregiver is not perverted. Don’t totally give your child up to caregivers and always monitor anyone who takes care of your child so that they do not behave inappropriately.
Keep communication lines open
In line with love, support and discipline, your child needs to feel they can talk to you about anything. The focus of your parenting should be on showing them that they can come to for anything. This will save them from turning to undesirable characters or making wrong judgment, and you will have fewer problems to deal with as they grow up. Be patient, as open communication lines can help you avoid many issues such as child abuse, drug abuse and teenage problems in the future. When you talk, sit quietly and allow them to talk about their feelings without interrupting them. Be constructive when you give out advice and be gentle.
Gently inform that family of the changes that will happen. The single parent can help family members face these difficulties by talking with each other about their feelings and working together to tackle problems. Support from friends, other family members and the church or synagogue can help too. But if family members are still overwhelmed and having problems, it may be time to consult an expert.
Have a support group
You need to have people you can turn to for support when you have problems. For some, it is a circle of trusted friends, for others its family or even a group of other single parents that you can talk to and share opinions and experiences.
Being stuck with just your child for company can bet a bit tiresome. The best way to overcome this is by finding other people who somehow share the similar situation. You can find a buddy with whom you can have regular dinner dates with, along with both your children. It’s nice to be with people who are going through the same thing as you are. You can look for inspiration and seek some advice. You can join support groups through social media such as Facebook or through your local church groups. You can even start your own group.
The important thing is that you build a community. From this community, you can seek emotional support and get a sense of belonging. This will do wonders to the feeling of isolation that is commonly amplified when one is a single parent. You don’t always have to be surrounded by co-single parents. Your community could be and should be diverse. The more diverse your community is, the richer the insights you get will be. At the end of the day, you should accept that you will need some sort of support along the way. Accept the help that other people can provide you.You can’t and you shouldn’t have to handle everything by yourself. Give your family members and friends the chance to be there for you. Just because you are a single parent does not mean you literally have to do everything on your own.
Take care of yourself
While your child is your utmost concern, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Do not neglect your needs, and yes, even your wants. Pay attention to your basic needs. Sometimes single parents could be so busy, they are no longer eating enough or resting enough. Keep in mind that if you neglect your own well-being, you may not be able to properly take care of your child. And you do deserve a break or two, so indulge yourself once in a while with a trip to the spa or gym. A happy and healthy version of yourself will make a better parent any day.
Do not let “couple envy” get the best of you
On your first weeks and months, it may be hard to avoid, but try not feeling envious of people who have kind, involved and reliable partners who actually want to be there to raise their child. Never compare yourself, never envy. You never know what lies beneath the projected lives of the people around you. It may just be an illusion that everything is fine and dandy in the lives of those who have partners to help them out. Even married people have problems. There is no sense in trying to compete. The important thing is to focus on your child and yourself. Feeling envious will only cultivate bitter and negative feelings and that sure is not good for you nor your child.
Do not fail to plan
It is imperative that you plan ahead in case of urgent situations like suddenly coming down with a fever and there’s no other adult in the house to handle your baby for you. Prepare for the unlikely. Be ready with emergency babysitting services and make a list of your friends whom you can count on.
Manage your finances
Money is very important especially when there’s only one income coming into the household. Budget your money wisely by keeping track of your household bills and tracking when your next paycheck should come in.
Your presenting mood can easily affect your children. Children easily pick up on their parents mood and attitude. It is important that they grow up in an environment with a positive vibe.
What are the benefits of being a single parent?
- There no longer has to be a fight about who gets to do what. There is no more nagging involved when it comes to what is needed to be done. Either there is no one to nag on or there is no one who will nag. Figuring out a system of how to share the responsibilities and then fighting each other over it can be draining.
- No one is there to undermine your authority. Your word is the word and your word is final. There will be no contesting or deferring it. As a result, your child will benefit from a consistent and stable form of discipline.
- You get the whole closet to yourself. You get the whole house, actually. Do with it what you will.
- You can get every other weekend off to spend time for yourself. You get to have an uninterrupted afternoon where you can enjoy your tea or a favorite book and you don’t have to worry about child care at least for a little while.
Important things to keep in mind when you are a single parent
- Never leave your child at home alone. Leave them with someone you trust if you have to leave home.
- Don’t leave your younger children with their older siblings. You may be robbing all of them of a good childhood by doing so.
- Break in your new partner before asking them to look after your children. Their patience might need warming up.
- If you are going to rely on a babysitter or child care center, be sure to check out their services by watching the babysitter when they are handling your children or by visiting the child care center.
Single parenthood may be difficult but, by following these tips, you will be able to cope, and enjoy your children rather than survive through their development.