Becoming a parent is life transforming. The art of parenting is a steep learning curve which poses many challenges.
Socio-economic changes have hugely transformed our lives. From joint families to nuclear families we now have single-parent families. These families are headed by mothers or fathers who are widowed or divorced and not remarried. Today, people also opt for unmarried parenting.
Whatever the reasons, solo parenting situation presents a unique set of issues influencing parenting skills, career, finances and social relationships. Life in a single parent family is equally stressful for adults and kids.
Single-parent families cannot function like two-parent families and problems arise due to unrealistic expectations. A single parent might feel overwhelmed with responsibility of running a home, taking care of kids and facing pressure at work. In two-parent families this is a shared responsibility.
All families aspire to raise happy and well-adjusted kids. However, single parents can also do so with the right perspective, mental and emotional strength, loads of patience and the ability to see a bigger and positive picture.
Let Go of Guilt
Single parents harbour a lot of guilt. Don’t indulge in repetitive thoughts about, why, how and what went wrong and stop blaming yourself. This pattern of negative thinking is detrimental for physical, mental and emotional well-being.
For single parents clear priorities are, imperative. Worrying and thinking about the future, or the impact on your child and doubting your abilities creates confusion. Instead focus on the positive.
Spend quality time with kids even if it means cutting your kitchen time to cook a healthy but simple meal. Your kid will remember and appreciate these moments of togetherness than any expensive gifts.
As a solo-parent having a strong support system that includes family, friends and neighbours is essential. If you try to do everything on your own it will become overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to ask for help but just be specific. People want to help, however, they don’t know how to. Communicating explicit requirement helps in respecting boundaries of both parties.
Encourage your kid to develop strong relationships with family members, friends, teachers and mentors.
Self-Care is Crucial
Self-care is vital for single parents. You need to be there all the time for your kid. Take out time to exercise, eat healthy and regularly destress. Finding new interests and pursuing a hobby helps to unwind.
Speak, discuss and listen to your kid. Allow your kid to voice his thoughts, feelings, fear and insecurities. Don't evade difficult questions. Open communication makes the parent-kid bond stronger. Dialogue helps in resolving issues.
Your kid is a kid, don’t expect him to behave like an adult. He cannot fathom your challenges. Explain the situation. Kids are resilient, they understand and cope well.
Grieving the Loss
Grieving helps you to come to terms with the loss. It provides time to move on. Accept your feelings and embrace emotions and give freedom to your kid to do so.
You cannot be happy all the time and there is no need to pretend. Going into denial doesn’t work. With time the intensity of any experience diminishes.
Kids are happy with routines that provide them a sense of stability. It reduces the anxiety of the unexpected. At the time when your kid is dealing with grief and loss of one parent, consistency and steadiness of routines provides comfort of ease.
Follow traditions for festivals and seasons. Teach kids to enjoy life as it is.
Don't Belittle Your Ex
Never, belittle, blame or criticise your ex in the presence of your kids. For kids, both parents are equally important. It hurts deeply if a parent criticises or gets angry with the other. Try to have positive role models for kids for the gender of the missing or absent parent.
By dealing with the problems without feeling victimized and accepting the reality, single parenting becomes simple. This is a transient phase just focus on going forward and see how you and your kids sail through this difficult period with ease.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
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