Parenthood is a tough enterprise. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and being a single parent adds even more weight and worry to it. Whether you are single by choice, through divorce or or any other reason including military separation, many times your focus can shift solely to the “childhood development” spectrum and you can easily lose sight at what you’re trying to achieve. But positive parenting and successful single parenthood can be achieved by putting some goals for yourself in order.
Self-care is first
You know when you get on an airplane and the flight attendants remind you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping the people around you? A single parent must be aware of this rule every day. And no doubt, it’s the hardest to remember, but it’s the most vital.
Positive parenting comes first and foremost from a confident, healthy parent. Whether taking several conscious deep breaths every hour (do it now!), scheduling a massage once a week, or making time to workout or play a group sport, single parents should have a priority list that places themselves at the top. If taking a whole day off once a month is not an option, try scheduling a half day off, and make it time for yourself. Have coffee with a friend, or go bowling! Heading to a batting cage or taking a hike in the park might be the few moments of re-energizing you need.
Positive parenting success stories
As a single parent, you may not be surrounded by “peers” as you were when you were married. If you have gone through a divorce some of your friends might be gone. It’s important to give yourself positive parenting stories so that you can refer to them when you have questions. Ways to do this are to read everything you can on childhood development and single parenthood, read about other parents who are single with success stories, or join a single parents group at a church, online or other secular location. Being surrounded with a positive parenting community will allow you to tap into some of the support that you had when you were part of a couple. Even if you were never part of a couple, single parenthood by choice still requires lots of support.
Don’t neglect your spiritual side
While you may say, “I beg and plead with my higher power all day, Liz!” I’m actually talking about something more low-key, and possibly more beneficial. Nurturing gratitude and relaxing into the power of spirituality can be the bolster you need when days get horrifying. The bills are stacked up and you haven’t had time to pay them, assuming the money is there to pay them! The babysitter is sick, or the day care center doesn’t open early enough to accommodate your new shift. Single parents are on their own here, but not completely.
Tap into whatever belief system you have to remind yourself that each day has its blessings. Are you healthy? Are your children healthy? Do you have the roof over your head tonight? Do you have your car? Some days the blessings may be very small; you may be thankful for dinner and that’s about it. But you’re thankful and fostering a gracious heart has benefits that spread to the rest of your life. Single parents need to take extra time to count the many blessings around them when the going gets tough.
Single parenthood is challenging every day. While so many factors can’t be controlled, like certain financial issues, jobs and housing, the internal work you do, support you create and well-being you care for will all play a role in positive parenting through difficult times. Remembering to breathe may sound silly, but it’s a step in letting go of negativity and opening up to gratitude and support. Put yourself on the priority list and see what opens up. Single parenthood may not be easy but it’s doable, and you can be successful!
Tell us: What tips and tricks do you employ as a single parent?
About Liz Alfano
I write "Dirty Words," the blog about things you should know, but might not. I'm the mother of two elementary school-aged boys and wife of one adult aged man. When not writing, I can be found reading or staring into space wishing I was either reading or writing. Sometimes I'm seen vacuuming...but not often. www.mydirtywords.comWeb | More Posts (53)