“More than half of the children in the US will live, for some time, in a single-parent household.”
Dr. Benjamin Spock
In today’s society, living in a two parent home is like being on the endangered species list. As Dr. Spock said, more than half of all the children in the United States live or have lived in a single-parent household. I remember growing up being raised by my single-mother in the late 70′s and early 80′s and I thought I was the “only one” at times. All of my classmates’ parents were married. I was also a single mother for years so I have walked in the same shoes some of you readers are walking in right now. It’s not an easy road to travel. However, for all the pitfalls that can be experienced during single parenthood, there are many success stories and triumphs as well. One of the triumphs that I personally experienced as a single mother was that I found out that I am a very strong person. I found out that I could handle a lot more than I initially thought I could. I became very self-reliant and less co-dependent on others. Many times, I discovered that I had more strength than I ever gave myself credit for. Looking back now, I think, those times were tough, but we made it. I accepted the challenges and I grew through them.
One of the main struggles single parents deal with is financial stability. This can be one of the most difficult. What I found is that during times like these, you have quickly learn to be resourceful. You have to learn to be the provider for your children, the carpenter, the electrician, the cook, the banker, the auto mechanic, the grocer and mom or dad all at the same time because you can’t afford to pay anyone to do anything extra. A lot of the times, some single parents do all of these things on one income and don’t get any child support. Talk about stress.
Through all of the challenges that single parenthood can bring, you can be successful, no matter the stigma of society. Although, obviously, a two-parent home is divine and was the original plan, life doesn’t always work out the way we plan. You can have success being a single parent and I have seen many very inspiring children become extremely intelligent, responsible and well rounded adults who were raised by a single mother or father. Those children learned to be independent. They learned early on that learning to deal with strife is part of life’s learning process and it’s how you get through those challenges that make the difference. They learned to take responsibility for their actions and solve their problems through self-reliance.
If you are a new single parent, here are a few tips that you might find helpful:
1. Take care of yourself. Talk to other single parents. When times are tough, it is easy to get caught up in all of the problems. You become stressed out and my philosophy on this is “when mama or daddy ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!” Take time to refresh yourself once in a while. Even if that means you have to enlist your parents or siblings to watch the children and you have a day to yourself in your own apartment. Give yourself that time.
2. Be a good example. Make sure your values always exemplify how you want your children to see you and what you want them to grow up to teach their children.
3. Do not alienate the other parent. This never works. It actually has the opposite effect in the long run. Make sure you keep your personal feelings for your ex or your children’s father or mother out of your decision making regarding your children’s relationship with him/her.
4. Make a budget and stick to it. This is the most stressful situation for a single parent. Make a budget (go online – there are plenty of them for free) and stick to it. This is imperative and will reduce your stress.
5. Avoid negative labels. Keep your head up. Do not allow the stigma that society places on you change who you are. You are strong, you will get through this time in life.
None of the above tips are always easy to stick by, but you will be glad you did. Simply put, being a single-parent is hard but despite problems, you can achieve a closeness with your children that will never be broken. During the process, you might get a little grayer (hair that is) but you will definitely come out of the situation a wiser and stronger person for it. I know I did.
Peace and Blessings,