Parents may be raising a child on their own for various reasons. They may be separated, divorced, widowed, or choose to be single. Regardless of the reason, single parents can independently raise a healthy, happy, confident, and successful child. The information below will help guide you in making a plan for raising your child as a single parent.
Taking Care of Yourself
Remember you are not the only person raising a child as a single parent. There are many other people who face similar challenges to yours every day. Very Well Family reports that “According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2015, a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau every two years, there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 22.4 million children. This number represents approximately 27 percent of children under 21 in the U.S. today.”
Create a network for yourself that you can turn to for help this can include family members, friends, a counselor, or a support group. Having the opportunity to exchange feelings, ideas, and strategies with other adults can help you feel more confident about your ability to parent and navigate challenges. Hearing about the experiences of other single parents will also reaffirm that you are not alone, that you have a support system to lean on, and that you are capable of raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child. Taking care of yourself and asking for assistance from others around you will equip you with the strength and resources you need in order to care for yourself and your child.
Set aside some time each day for yourself to relax or do something you enjoy. Even when your day is busy, plan to set aside sometime before bed, or wake up fifteen minutes earlier to take time for yourself. Use this time to do something you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading, practicing yoga, talking to a friend, or meditating and relaxing. Develop a personal tool kit of techniques to cope with stress you experience throughout the day. Practice deep breathing exercises, keep a fidget toy with you to focus your attention and calm your active mind, listen to a favorite song, or draw in a coloring book for five minutes. These self-care techniques will assist you in being more present in your life and will, therefore, assist you in being more present in your child’s life.
If you are experiencing conflict due to separation or divorce or grieving from the death of a partner you will be experiencing a higher level of stress. It can be difficult to co-parent with an ex-partner whose parenting style differs from yours. Taking time to care for yourself will help you manage strong emotions and improve the state of your mental health.
Taking Care of Your Child
Develop a positive relationship with your child. Discover your child’s interests and meet their friends. Keep the lines of communication open by having conversations with your child every day, and by answering their questions as openly and honestly as you can. This will show your child that you both value and respect him. Be mindful of venting to your child about conflicts or problems. Even if you have a close relationship, your child should not have to worry about adult concerns. Save those conversations for the other adults in your support system.
If you are co-parenting with an ex-partner, try to keep the relationship as civil and polite as possible. Avoid making negative comments about the other parent in front of your child, or asking him questions about the other parent. Remember that your child loves and needs both of you, and how you and your ex-partner treat each other is an example for him of how to navigate relationships. If you are co-parenting, it is important that your child knows that he is loved by both parents. As difficult as it may be, set aside your differences and keep your focus on what is best for your child. This can eliminate or reduce the disagreements that often occur while co-parenting.
Set clear and consistent guidelines for your child’s behavior. As a single parent, it can be exhausting to work, make all of the household decisions, run day-to-day errands, and complete other responsibilities. Mental and physical exhaustion can motivate parents to “give in” to unreasonable requests or misbehavior from children, but if parents are consistent and stick to the expectations that have been set, children learn to respect and follow the guidelines.
Enjoy time spent with your child and create family rituals like Friday Night Movie Night, or making pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays. These rituals give your child something to look forward to, allow you to bond with one another, help your child feel closer to you, and build a sense of security in your relationship. Below you will find more resources for raising your child as a single parent.