Being a single parent

Knowing that you alone and are responsible for your children’s well-being can be overwhelming. As one single parent put it, "You have to accept that everything is going to be harder." With no one to back you up when firmness is needed or to consult with on tough decisions, you have to rely entirely on yourself. But the gains in self-confidence from doing exactly that are extremely rewarding.

Single parenting is not easy

Finding good, reliable child care resources, especially for such times as after-school, school vacations and when a child is sick, are important needs for single parents. Even though an increasing number of children live with only one parent, schools still seem to assume a traditional two parent family, with one parent able to be at home when needed. Because single parents are apt to feel "different," they may be apologetic about speaking up about their child’s needs. It’s important to be aware of the degree to which this may be operating in yourself. The more you are involved in your child’s school, the more helpful the school will be able to be.

Children learn how to be an adult by identifying with persons whom they admire and look up to. Making sure your child has one or more role models of the same sex as the non-custodial parent, such as a friend, neighbor or relative with whom your child is in regular contact, will be an important way to help your child grow into a loving, responsible adult.

There may be times when you will feel sad, confused or angry. Do not feel that you have to hide these feelings from your child. Your child can cope much better if she knows how you are feeling, as long as your feelings are stated honestly and without attempting to hold someone else responsible for them.

You may feel that, because you aren’t sharing child rearing with another person, you aren’t entitled to private time away from the children. However, it’s important that you be good to yourself and arrange for time to pursue your own interests. You’ll be better off and so will your children.

Self-care for parents - Make use of the many resources in your community that are there to help, most of which are free. Don’t hesitate to seek outside professional help when you need it. Getting together with other single parents in your area on a regular basis for mutual support and information sharing is helpful.

Raising children is both a positive and a challenging experience for all parents. Remember that no one has a perfect childhood and our job as parents is just to do our best. The fact is, it’s probably the toughest job you will ever have and sometimes  it can be pretty overwhelming. Your most important challenge is to accept your child for who she is - an individual, different from you and all other children. By accepting this challenge, you are celebrating her unique and special personality.