Solo parenting is difficult, but keeping this in mind will help you keep rising to the challenge.
There’s this phenomenon in parenting where, when one parent is about to lose their mind, the other parent becomes miraculously calm. My wife can read the signs when I’m at the end of the tether, the tell-tale desperation in my voice, the hunted look in my eye, and she swoops in and handles the crisis with aplomb, usually by suggesting to the children that they’re very good children but they’ve finally pushed daddy over the edge and might want to go outside and play for a good long while. Other times, I arrive home from work and am able to return the favor when it’s immediately apparent that it’s been a long, whiny day at home. I’m grateful for the teamwork and don’t know if I could do it alone.
Others don’t have that luxury. They do it alone because they’re single parents, so after a hard day at work they put in a heroic effort at home. There are no days off. There aren’t even small moments off.
Households with only one parent, a recent poll reveals, are continuing to become more common: Almost a full third of parents are doing it alone. This isn’t ideal, but sometimes a person finds themselves in those circumstances and must rise to the challenge. Parenting is a challenging enough task even with a committed partner, so how much more difficult is it for one person?
I truly admire single parents for their faithfulness and tirelessness on behalf of their children. As with any parenting, there are big sacrifices involved, and days when it feels like maybe it isn’t worth the effort, or that you’re failing to raise a happy, successful child. For those tough days, here is some encouragements for single parents …
You don’t have to be two people
Your kids don’t have to do all the sports and activities — no kid does – but there’s a lot of pressure to over-schedule, as if a child who doesn’t play soccer year-round or attend a bunch of summer camps won’t be successful. With two parents, it’s easier to afford and attend all of these extra activities. The activities can be okay, but kids are just fine without them. Don’t knock yourself out for what, ultimately, is not as important as people think. What kids really want and need is a parent who loves them and is always there for them.
Your children are not doomed
Single parent families have unique challenges, but kids are resilient. Yes, not having a mom or dad around is a loss, there’s no denying it. Children adjust, though, so stay positive. Be honest with the kids about how your family is unique with both the specific challenges and the blessings that are yours alone. Not only are the children not doomed by you, they may just amaze you and rise to the challenge.
God will help you
God loves families and wants your family to succeed. He wants you to be this child’s parent and only you can do it. Life is full of surprises, but every step of the way a strong spirituality will be a source of strength and comfort. Make faith a central part of your life together as a family.
Let others help
No one is looking for a substitute second parent, but family is still family, so having grandma and grandpa and other relatives around goes a long way. They’re an emotional support and source of stability. So are good friends. A support system is invaluable and can even give you those occasional breaks you need.
Find the bright side
The greatest joy of being a parent is that, no matter what else happens in life, you have a child who thinks the world of you. Everything else pales in comparison. And remember that because children are affected by your moods, when you have a positive attitude they’ll have a positive attitude, too.
You are up to the challenge
Parenting provides a constant stream of should-haves. I should have been more patient. I should have made a real meal instead of feeding my child from the drive-thru. I should have handled that behavior differently. No matter the should-have, you’re doing great.
Challenges bring out the best in us as we learn from our mistakes. This task you’ve been given to love and care for your children is a blessing. You may be exhausted and stretched many days, but you are more than capable to meet the challenges that come your way. And remember, the rest of us, who know the sacrifices and hard work that go into parenting, admire you more than you know.