When most people think about having children, they think about beautiful children with a spouse or partner that is helping them to raise amazing human beings. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Today, households with single parents are very common. When you look at single parent statistics, you can see the way this has increased significantly over the last few decades. Even if this is not the way you had initially envisioned parenthood, it does not mean that you cannot make the most out of it.
The Many Ways Single Parent Families Happen
While there is this idea that single parents are people who are divorced, it is important to note that this is not always the case. There are some people who simply never got married but just dated their significant other and eventually broke up. Some people choose single parent adoption. In many of these cases, they want to have a child but do not have a partner, so they decide to do it on their own. No matter how you came to be a single parent, it is important to note that you are not alone, and that you can get through this rewarding process.
The Drawbacks of Single Parent Households
There are several drawbacks to being a single parent, the biggest one being the financial setback. With only one income, it can be significantly harder to make ends meet. More than this, you may find that you have to work longer hours just to pay for what you need. In turn, this can take away from the time you spend with your child. It can also be hard if the other parent is not in the picture at all as you have to play the role of both mom and dad, which can be difficult for anyone.
Programs Out There for Single Parents
While it may not be easy, there are many programs out there that can help single parents with their burdens. For instance, if you want to go back to school there are several grants and scholarships for single parents that you may qualify for. This can help you to get the education you need to provide for your family in the future. It does not mean that going to school will be easy. Single parent scholarships can help you to get the funds you need to keep you from mounting debt when you graduate from college.
If you are struggling financially, there are many programs out there to help you. Look online to find out what is available in your local community. You may be surprised at what is out there. You should look not only at government agencies, but private groups as well such as churches and charitable organizations. If you do not like the idea of getting a handout, find a way that you can work off the money.
Dealing with the Other Parent
There are some people out there who have an amazing relationship with their child’s other parent, because they know that they are in the parenting game together. However, there are other parents who simply cannot stand each other. If you are in the latter category, then it is important that you get your emotions under control. Here are a few things that can help.
- Evaluate Your Feelings – Do you hate your ex because they disappeared for years? While this is hurtful and wrong, they are here now, and as long as they have legal rights to your child you cannot keep them away.
- Learn to Deal with Your Emotions – This is easier said than done. For some single parents, this can take years. In other cases, it can only be accomplished with therapy to help address the issues and figure out how to deal with the emotions you have.
- Learn When to Keep Your Lips Sealed – Maybe your ex had bad habits in the past, or maybe you don’t like the choices they are making. This does not ever give you the right to talk about this with your child. You should never manipulate a child into thinking or feeling a certain way about their other parent. More than this, you should never put the child in the middle. In many areas, this is not an acceptable practice, and may even land you in violation of your custody agreement.
- Don’t Make Your Child Choose – Guilt trips and having to choose a parent are some of the hardest things you can put your child through emotionally. There is no right or wrong answer in their mind, and this will cause them heartache and issues that can last well into adulthood.
- Have Open Communication with Your Ex (in regards to your child) – You should also make sure you are talking with your ex about your child. It may be difficult, but they deserve to know what is going on with them. This does not mean that you have to be best friends, but you should be civil for your child’s sake.
Recently, there was a story about a letter a mother wrote to the new girlfriend of her ex husband. In this letter she went on to tell the woman that she was not going to give away secrets or try to be friends, but she wanted her to feel welcome and a part of their modern family. This letter is an example of how parents who are no longer together should be with each other.
Tips for Reducing Stress
One of the hardest things for most single parents to deal with is the stress. You worry about bills, visitation, doctor’s appointments, whether your child got off the bus safe and a million other things every day. This is why it is helpful to know a few tips for dealing with this stress:
- Create a budget. Even if you are not making ends meet at the moment, you should still understand where you money is going and where it should be going. This can help you to allocate funds to the most important bills first.
- Be consistent with discipline. It is easy to be easy on your kids because you feel like you haven’t been around or their other parent decided not to show up for visitation. However, do not let this be an excuse for not being consistent with the rules and consequences for breaking the rules.
- Stop feeling guilty. This is hard to do because you may feel like you are doing everything wrong or you may feel guilty for leaving your ex and making yourself a single parent. The thing to remember is that guilt is counterproductive. When you feel guilty, all you can do is figure out what you have learned from the situation and move on. Dwelling is not good for you or your children.
- Sleep. This cannot be stated enough. Having ample amounts of sleep will do wonders for your stress level and your parenting skills. You will find it easier to handle kids being kids and not getting instantly upset.
- Have a support system. Your support can come from friends, family and really anyone that is close to you. These are the people you will call when you are having a bad day and they will be there for you. Have as many of these in your life as you possibly can to give an even greater benefit. Some people find it helpful to find other single parents with kids the same age. Not only can you chat while your children play, you can compare notes which can make you feel a lot better about things in your own life. For instance, if you feel like your 8 year old boy is having a hard time following the rules, you may find that this is just a phase by talking with other parents