By Jaime Kulaga
Research has shown that children who are raised by married parents, especially those parents who stay married, tend to do better in almost all aspects to life. The problem is, the US family is currently much different than what it used to be. Being raised by a family other than the traditional two-parent is no longer out of the norm.
With this in mind, it is important to make sure that it is actually marriage that determines a child’s success, as opposed to other factors that might influence marriage, like more time for parenting, income from two parents, etc.
The Brookings Institute (2014) conducted research on this very issue. The research suggested that marriage is the means in which higher incomes can be raised and by which parenting can be improved. If marriage is the means, the reality is that it is not the sole reason that children raised by parents who are married do well in life.
The focus then needs to shift on policy makers to help increase incomes of single families and increase attention on improving parenting. Also, this allows single parents to take more responsibility and control over how they raise their child. If a single parent was doomed from the start because he/she was not married, the control over his/her ability to raise successful children would be out of her/his hands. But, when marriage is a means or booster to factors, like income and parenting, than more control lies with a single parent.
So, while policy makers take their time doing what they do, what can you do as a single parent to help increase your child’s success? Here are a few tips to get you going:
1. Spend more time with your children. If you work all day and can’t find time, start including them in the day to day, after school routine. It might take an extra 15 minutes to make dinner, but instead of rushing through dinner and making it alone, let your child help you. Try to reflect on all the activities you do without your child, and see which ones you can have them included in more frequently (gym, cooking, cleaning, shopping, mailing out letters, etc.)
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up. At work, if you think you earned a promotion or raise, ask for a meeting with your boss to discuss this. Don’t talk about why you “need” the raise, rather what you have done for the company to deserve it.
3. If you are skipped over for a raise at work, and you feel it was deserved, update your resume and apply to jobs that are one step above what you do now. Be confident.
4. Research shows that economic success is often determined by a child being ready for school by age five. If you have a younger child, take an extra 15 minutes each day to provide cognitive stimulation to them. This can be something as easy as showing your child how to break up a big task into smaller parts and then to work on each piece separately to get the job done. You can also teach multitasking; cleaning up the bedroom while singing songs.
5. Allow your child to feel comfortable opening up to you. In this rush-rush world, especially when you find yourself doing things alone, you don’t have time to “talk.” But, make time to talk to your child. Ask them about their day – but do so with open ended questions. Instead of asking “How was your day?” in which they usually reply, “Good,” ask them, “what was your favorite part of the day?” Then ask “what was your least favorite part of the day.” This will give you insight into any potential problems your child might be facing at school.
This week’s challenge: Whether or not you are married while raising your children, your challenge this week is to select one tip from the list of 5 above, and do one.
Dr. Jaime Kulaga is the author of Type “Superwoman: Finding the LIFE in Work-Life Balance – A Self-Searching Book for Women”. She is the inspirational founder of the nationally known SuperWoman Workshops. Dr. Kulaga has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, Self and Prevention magazines as well as the national show Daytime for her expertise in Work-Life Balance.