A third of American households are now headed by a single parent. While every family experiences difficulty, there are unique challenges to raising a child all by yourself. There’s no one to step in when you’re overwhelmed by your responsibilities, and you bear the burden of decision making alone. But the rewards of parenting can make it all worthwhile. Presented by Gail Cawley Showalter, here are some helpful tips to help you be more successful as you guide your son or daughter along the path to adulthood.
Set Yourself Up For Success:
You have to wear two hats in your family, being the fun parent and the disciplinarian. Set ground rules for your child and be consistent in enforcing them. Make your expectations for your child clear, and make the penalties for abusing your trust enforceable. Don’t fall into the trap of threatening, or making harsh punishments when you’re angry only to walk them back later when you’re calm. Your child will push the limits, that’s what kids do. It’s your job to help enforce those boundaries to keep him safe and on the right track. Create structure for your child, keep the house organized and clean (this is especially important if you’re thinking about selling your home), and a regular routine, this will make him feel safer, and help him to know what to expect each day. It will also help reduce the stress in your own life, and help you to keep on top of a busy parenting schedule. Don’t try to make up for the lack of a second parent by spoiling your child, you’ll only create an entitlement mentality. There is no fault in being a single parent, so don’t feel guilty about it.
Lavish Your Child With Love:
Your child needs affection and nurturing more than toys and electronics. Make a point of praising his virtues and victories in life. Build up his self-esteem by showing him how important he is to you, in your words and deeds. Prioritize your time together. Make plans to do special things together frequently, building memories he’ll treasure all his life. Part of loving your child is not denigrating his other parent. That person makes up half of your child’s genetic material, and no matter what their flaws and faults, your child needs to see them as a good and worthy person. If your child thinks the other parent is a bad person, they may worry that they will be one as well. Studies show children from single parent homes are more likely to suffer depression, so be on your guard against damaging his self-esteem, and be watchful for signs of a problem.
Take Care Of Yourself, Too:
All too often, single parents martyr themselves to the cause of raising their children. Don’t put that kind of burden on them. Young children in particular are a lot of hard work. They need constant care and attention, morning until night. But you must recharge your physical energies and emotional reserves if you’re to meet your responsibilities to them. Cultivate a life for yourself, and interests of your own. Take time to care for yourself properly and protect your good health. Eat well, and exercise regularly to keep up your strength and build a healthy body. Give yourself permission to relax, and rest. You need eight hours of sleep each night to function adequately, don’t skimp on it. Learn to unwind and cope with the stresses of life. A good self-care routine promotes a healthy body and mind. You can’t pour out of an empty vessel. Take time to do special things just for you. Visit a friend, take a yoga class, journal, or meditate. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself, it’s good parenting. If something happens to you, who will take care of your child?
I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. I am a Certified Professional Coach with Fowler International Academy.
I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother.
In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving, Insights and Encouragement on the Path of Motherhood is available for purchase on Amazon.