Are you parenting on your own right now? Do you anticipate you might be parenting on your own soon?
You know, there are lots of reasons you might find yourself suddenly raising your kids without backup. There’s separation or divorce, of course. But it’s also possible that…
- The other parent is away on business or some other trip for a limited time
- The other parent is away for an extended period of time (deployment, incarceration, business) or
- The other parent is hospitalized or in some other way unable to be fully “present” as a parent.
It doesn’t really matter why you find yourself on your own with the kiddos – or how long this stretch of single-parenting looks like it will last. The principles we’re going to talk about are the same. And I’m only going to give you three steps to take because, really, your life is complicated enough. No need to add to it!
Ready? Here you go:
1. Get a buddy. Parenting is meant to be a 2-player sport. If you’re one player down, you’re at a disadvantage. You are likely to get tired, feel stressed, and run out of patience and resilience. So get a buddy – someone who can share the load and who can give you a break once a in a while. If you can’t find one person to rely on or a posse of people willing to act as your personal backup, then a support group can help. But a support group is not the same as actual on-the-ground contributions by friends and family.
One quick caveat here. As you’ve probably noticed, pedophiles look for families like yours if you are a single mother who is stretched to near the breaking point. Make certain that the person you decide to rely on for your backup backs up you and doesn’t seem intent on removing your child from your immediate supervision. You need a break from your kid but pay attention to what’s going on.
2. Be yourself. You are not two people and you certainly are not your partner. You are only you. So do your best and don’t worry about not doing everything your partner would do in addition to everything you do yourself. There are only 24 hours in the day.
At the same time, being yourself means being the whole, interesting person that you are. Growing up in a single-parent family can be rich and funny and full of great things if you forget about trying to do everything and instead do what you and your kids like to do. The same goes for growing up in a family where one parent is often away from home or for spending the weekend with just one parent or the other.
Don’t try to be two people. Be your finest You.
3. Be proud. There is no reason at all to apologize to anyone – to your children or your mother or the school – that it’s just you running the show at home. There is no evidence that children in single-parent households do less-well than kids who grow up in two-parent households. So don’t feel anxious about raising your children on your own but also don’t make any excuses for your kids or for yourself. You can and should raise your children just as well as anybody else.
The same goes for sharing parenting with an ex, parenting alone while the other parent is away, and parenting in shifts. Every sort of family works well, yours included.
The secret to raising well-adjusted, successful children is to be a well-adjusted, successful role model. Be that and be proud. Let the world be amazed.
Because you are amazing. Raising great children is not a walk in the park for anyone and if you’re doing that on your own, even for just the weekend, then pat yourself on the back.
But when you’re finished with the self-congratulations, concentrate on your kids. What do they need right at this moment and how can you help them?
No matter what your situation, it’s your children’s day-to-day experiences that matter. Make those terrific!
© 2013, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.