Single parents and their kids can flourish. This is nothing new. There are lots of single parents out there, that are doing well. Think of people you know, both famous and not so famous, that are flourishing as a single parent. One that comes to mind for me is President Obama. He was raised by a single mom and grandparents.
Being a single parent is stressful. You don’t have to go through it alone. It’s important to reach out to friends and family for help, when you need it. The good news is you aren’t alone. One out of four children in America live in a single-parent home. The reasons can vary. You could be widowed, divorced or decided to have a child without a partner. All of these reasons are alright.
Here are 7 ways to raise a happy child as a single parent:
- Remove “guilt” from your vocabulary. It’s easy as a single parent to feel guilty. You feel guilty about the things you don’t have or what you can’t provide for your child. The best thing you can do is spend time with your child. So, make the most of what you have. If you can’t stop thinking about what you can’t provide, make a list of what you can provide. The children have a roof over their head, food on the table and a loving parent. Remind yourself, you are doing the best you can and you are a great parent.
- Treat kids like kids. It’s easy to rely heavily on your children for comfort, compassion and support: when there is the absence of a parent. Children are not mature enough to handle this. They will not be able to support you the way an adult can. It can also leave them feeling confused. If you find yourself leaning too much on your kids when you are frustrated, then it may be time to reach out to a friend or family member. If that’s not enough, then talk to a professional.
- Maintain a daily routine. A consistent routine will be helpful for your child. Schedule meals, chores, bedtime, etc. at regular times. Your child will appreciate it, and so will you. Children need to know what is expected of them and who’s in charge. This will help your child feel safe and loved.
- Get a hold of finances. Raising a child on a single income and relying on your ex for child support, can be stressful. Learn to live on a budget. This means living within your means. Instead of maxing out the credit cards, do some bargain shopping. Keep track of your spending for a month. Make sure you know what’s going out and what is coming in. Then, budget accordingly. Start a savings account, you never know when you will need it. Also, plan for college and retirement. You will be glad you did in the long run.
- Set up a support system. You don’t have to do it all. Whether you need someone to watch your kids while you run errands, or you need someone to talk to when you feel overwhelmed. Make sure you have a support system in place, and then have a backup. If finances allow, you could go to a support group for single parents. If not, then read up on it. There are many resources out there for single parents, these days.
- Answer questions honestly. Your children deserve it. Questions are bound to come up from your children. Instead of trying to cover up the truth or ignore the question, answer it. Make sure you answer it respectfully, without putting the other parent down. It’s important that your child is able to express their emotions. If they can’t express their emotions, it could lead to anxiety or depression. Nobody can keep everything in. If they are younger, answer questions in age-appropriate answers. Games and art can be helpful here.
- Stay positive. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and be hard on yourself. As a single parent, there are a lot of responsibilities. Stop beating yourself up with the negative talk in your head. Your children are also affected by your negative moods. It’s important to take care of yourself. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and schedule time for yourself. This will help you revive and keep a positive attitude.
I really admire all the single parents out there. You haven taken on one of the toughest jobs, raising a child. It’s a full-time job and you don’t get many breaks. Try to stay focused in the present. Good things lie ahead.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many single parents get their life back on track. For a free phone consultation or more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.