We all know how difficult parenting can be. Articles and the pros will tell you how important it is for parents to work together and be a team. But what about those parents who do it alone? This month we are going to talk about the difficulties of being a single parent.
Now, you may be happily married and think, “I don’t need to hear this because this topic doesn’t apply to me”. Take a moment and think about your family and friends. Chances are, there is a person who comes to mind who is parenting on their own. Maybe, your child’s best friend only lives with one parent or your next-door neighbor is a single parent. Ultimately, we are all touched by this topic. Studies have shown that there are 13.7 million single parents in the United States and those parents are responsible for raising over 22 million children. Half of those families are due to divorce, but another increasingly large group live with single parents who were never married or involved in a long-term relationship. A smaller number of children have widowed parents. Whatever the cause, there is a higher number of single parent families in our country than ever before and that means all of us are touched by it in one way or another.
Single parenthood is not easy, for parents or children. It can mean less income to support the family. If you can’t arrange or afford childcare, keeping a steady job can become difficult. Single parents can feel isolated and alone without another person to share the daily tasks of raising a child and maintaining a home. Parents can easily become tired and distracted to be as consistent with discipline and rules as they need to or would like to be. Any of these sound familiar? We would like to offer some suggestions that may help you meet some of your needs while still providing your child with what they need as well.
Take advantage of all the resources you can in finding childcare for your child. Ask around with people you trust. What did they do? Do they have any recommendations? 6 out of 10 families use a day care center. Ask lots of questions about their practices. What are their goals, requirements for staff, class ratios, costs? Ask to tour their facility. First impressions can tell you a lot. Take care of yourself, for your sake as well as your child. I’m not saying regular days at the spa, but just see to basic needs. See a doctor regularly, pay attention to what you are putting in your body, and attempt to get plenty of sleep. You are also setting the standard of what your child thinks is healthy behavior.
Set firm but reasonable limits and rules for your children and don’t be afraid to enforce them. Having clear rules to follow help children to know exactly what is expected of them and what behavior will not be tolerated. Do what you can to create a support system for yourself. Do you have family nearby? Friends from work or church? These are your support system people. You cannot be afraid or unwilling to accept or ask for help. If someone offers to help, take them up on it! If nothing else, you need someone you can call if an emergency comes up.
As overwhelming as it can be at times, there can be some benefits to being single. You can raise your child according to your own beliefs, principles and rules. Single parents often develop extremely close bonds with their children. Many children in single parent households may become more independent and mature because they have more responsibility within the family. Don’t let yourself get caught up in couple envy thinking that things would be better or easier with a partner. This could be true in some instances, but the truth is that there are problems with married couples too! The current divorce rate is proof of that. Maybe you aren’t a single parent, but often a solo parent. These are the parents whose partner travels often for work, works odd hours or is in the middle of a military deployment. Some of these suggestions can also hold true for you.
Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my Righteous right hand.” Cover your family in prayer and ask people you trust to pray for you and your family. Don’t
neglect your spiritual walk in the middle of your busyness.
Be watching for our next email. We will dig deeper into these suggestions with practical tips and also give suggestions about how you can reach out and help single parents you may know in your life. After all, we all need to work together.