The duties of a single parent are the same as those of a married parent, except for the fact that they have to be done alone. Single parents usually do not have a choice about whether to work or not and financial strain, as well as problems with work/life balance, are common.
It can be difficult to cope alone but many single parents find ways to not only survive but to thrive too. Here are some ways to thrive as a single parent.
- Assess your parenting style
As a single parent, you may be tempted to be a ‘helicopter’ parent who worries constantly and is interfering and overprotective. This will send a message to your kids that they are incompetent and they may become too dependent on you.
At the other extreme, you may be too permissive and not establish any boundaries for fear of alienating your kids. Trying to be a friend instead of a parent can make them feel insecure and anxious.
It can be hard to be consistent with boundaries and rules as a single parent, especially when stress and tiredness take their toll. However, establishing rules about mealtimes, bedtimes and screen time leads to happier, more secure kids.
It may be helpful for you to install the SpyFone mobile tracker on your child’s phone. By being able to keep track of your child via a control panel, you can monitor the boundaries you have set and reduce your worry.
- Be consistent in your approach
Your kids will thrive if you are consistent and fair in the way you discipline them. Being loving, not over-indulgent and involved but not interfering can be a difficult balance to get right.
If you end up being too hard or too soft on your kids, do not beat yourself up. Just work on being more consistent in the future. You will also need to work with any other people in your kids’ lives to provide consistent discipline.
- Find the right support
Going it alone is always much harder than having a good support system. As a single parent, you should not hesitate to turn to loved ones, friends or neighbors for support. If you need regular child care, find a qualified, experienced caregiver.
If your kids’ father is not in the picture, there are plenty of good male role models around. They may be in your own family or among the teachers, coaches, and neighbors you know. Think about joining a support group for single parents.
- Take care of yourself
You cannot be a good parent unless you take care of yourself. If you are miserable and overtired, you may take it out on them. You need to keep yourself as grounded and as stress-free as possible to give your kids the life they deserve.
Organize child care at least a few hours a week so you can have a break and enjoy doing activities with friends. Make sure you get enough exercise, eat healthily and get enough sleep.
- Deal with your feelings
It is fine to be honest with your kids if you are having a difficult time but also take time to remind them that you love them and you will all make it through together. If you are burdened with guilt because your marriage failed, you need to find a way to deal with your feelings.
If necessary, you may need to see a counselor to work through your issues. If you feel guilty and blame yourself, you may end up spoiling your kids to make up for being a single parent.