By Tracey Riggs
As single parents we are not alone, there are many individuals that are raising children alone whether it is a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, sibling, etc. The question is are we raising these children to be well-adjusted individuals or to be dependent upon someone? I am a single mother of five children, it is extremely hard at times both financially and emotionally. My children range in ages from oldest 12 years old to the youngest one of 5 years.
The five main things we have to keep in mind is that:
1.) We are NOT alone, there are others that understand.
2.) We need to be our children’s parents before being their friends.
3.) It is okay to have a night to ourselves, we have to have to reboot ourselves and be the parent they deserve.
4.) Our children need one on one time with us, with more than one child that can be difficult but is needed.
5.) They are children not adults, they need our guidance and our love to grow.
Look around you, how many of your friends grew up in a single parent home and look at your children’s friends. Their friends are more likely to live in single parent homes. Years ago it was a shameful thing but today it is common. There are single parent support groups in most communities and Churches even offer special groups for single parents. Today’s society understands more than we think at times. I know that I am under an abundance of stress trying to maintain shelter, food and the necessities for my children. I work forty hours a week some times more, but still have to obtain government assistance because childcare (just on 3) is more than I make in a months time.
Our children need us to teach them right from wrong or they will be learning from someone else. Yes they may become angry with us and sulk or pout, but we must maintain a disciplined household and ensure they follow the rules. We can encourage the friendship with them, but as parents we have to set boundaries. I hear my children tell me quite often that I don’t like them, love them, or care about them; this is usually when I tell them no to something they want or want to do, They will understand once they get older that these rules I set for them are for their well-being, when they have children they will be grateful fro the manners and discipline set within them.
Everyone at some point needs to reboot and have a relaxing night with out children. Single parents need that more than anyone, we need to take at least one night a month for ourselves. This “me time” can be just relaxing with a good book/ movie or going to an adult only dinner with a few friends. You will find that once you get that “free time” that you can manage and function better as a parent. Some of you have the opportunity when your children go to their non custodial parents home, the rest of us have to have either a sitter or for our children to be on a playdate/sleepover. You don’t have to a lot for hours at a time but even a couple hours does wonders. A time set aside each night just for you can do the trick as well, as long as you know there will be no distractions.
Children need one on one time with their parents, without the distraction of phones, or other people. Turn your phone to silent, and take time for each of your children each night. I have 3 of my children that live with me it is hard to give “mommy days” so I try to opt for thirty minutes alone time with each one. When the opportunity arises I do have a mommy day with them alone. Your one on one time with them can be as simple as discussing their day, playing a quick game of checkers, or reading to them (or them reading to you). Creativity can be a great thing as well if you can find an activity that will give you time alone with your child. Don’t forget to also spend family time together that is without phones. Family time can be eating dinner around the time, telling stories or creating a special activity just for all of you to share.
The most important thing we as single parents must know and remember is these young minds that we love are children not adults. We need to refrain from telling them every last detail of our lives and problems. Yes somethings can be used as learning tools but don’t use them as sounding boards they will have their own share of adult stress when they get on their own. We can share expenses and budgets with them if we do it appropriately without having them worry if they will be taken care of. Our adult romance relationships should be kept away from their ears they don’t need to know that our significant other lied about where they were or that you all had a disagreement. We as parents need to nurture our children’s growing thirst for knowledge in a healthy way and allow them to grow up with their individual thoughts, likes. dislikes, and opinions.
Remember to hug your children and tell them that you love them, are proud of them, and respect them everyday. Yes I said that you should tell them that you respect them, if we don’t respect them how will they learn to respect themselves, us, or anyone else.