Being a single parent can be a very rewarding job, but it can also be challenging and stressful. Raising a child can be difficult no matter what the circumstances, but as a single parent you have the sole responsibility for every aspect of child care and without a partner this can add pressure, leaving you emotionally and physically exhausted.
There are many reasons why someone is a single parent. They may have decided to have a family knowing that there would only be one adult in the household, they may have chosen to have a child by artificial insemination or through adoption… or maybe they have split up with their partner who is now no longer a part of the child’s life. Unplanned life events such as divorce or the death of a spouse may also have changed a two parent household into one.
One of the most common issues of being a single parent is the feeling of loneliness, and although you may not think of this as a high priority, it can manifest itself in ways that affect your health and this can have a knock-on effect on your child’s health.
Every single parent has a unique story and some people may feel lonelier than others. Conquering loneliness, however you manage to do it, will go a long way to banishing feelings of self-doubt. It can be difficult to know whether you are doing a good job at being a single parent and having someone to talk to can help to alleviate those worries. There is, of course, no such thing as a perfect parent, so try not to measure yourself against others. However, meeting other single parents can be beneficial and provide a useful support system during those times when you need reassurance. Try getting in touch with others via online forums, blogs or social media accounts.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. We all do it, but remember that some of those parents that you encounter at the nursery or school gates may seem to be in control and have it all worked out, but they could be struggling as much as you are. There are plenty of people who put on a brave face so reaching out to someone in the same situation could be the start of a mutual self-help group from which closer friendships could develop.
Above all, don’t lose your sense of self-esteem and take care of your physical and mental well-being. How do you find yourself again amongst the daily routine of looking after the kids? There is no doubt that you can get consumed by their lives and just trying to make ends meet also takes a toll. Don’t feel guilty taking time out, it is a necessary part of surviving on your own.
Worrying about financial matters can also put a strain on your emotional wellbeing. These worries can be heightened by keeping them secret, and not sharing or confiding in anyone can make the burden seem worse. Make sure that you find out exactly what you are entitled to in respect of benefits, tax credits and child maintenance. Alleviate the stress by writing out a budget every month so that you know exactly what you are spending your money on and what you need to prioritise.
Maintaining discipline in the home can be hard with no other adult reinforcing your views but children raised by single parents can be just as happy as those living with two parents. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, especially if you are going through a separation or divorce, and don’t take your anger out on your child. The circumstances surrounding the fact that you are a single parent are less important than your ability to be there for them. Above all, don’t feel stigmatised as a single parent. Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Asking for help can be one of the hardest things but also one of the most important things that you can do. Children learn by example and if they see your determination and endurance they will hopefully follow in your footsteps in their attitudes and choices as they grow up.
There are plenty of positive aspects to single parenting and this includes spending quality one-on-one time with your kids, allowing you to develop a unique bond that may actually be stronger than it would have been if you were not bringing them up on your own.
Single parenting can seem like an uphill climb but however down you get, just look at your kids, think about their smiles and the hugs, and it will be a reminder of why you carry one.
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