An effective way to start addressing the challenges of single parenting is by getting the help and support you need or at least exploring the resources available to you. You're uniquely qualified to recognize where there are gaps in your defenses. You may need help with babysitting while you take classes to increase your earning power, help with driving your child to and from daycare or just need a friend to vent with over coffee once in a while. Savvy single parents recognize that overcoming the challenges of single parenting is about recognizing what you need and coming up with effective strategies for getting it.
This sounds simple, but often it isn't. It's hard to ask for help, and in some cases, there can be a stigma attached to single parenting that makes it even more difficult to appear vulnerable. The upside is that once you reach out, you'll know better where you stand with family, friends and neighbors. You'll probably be gratified by how understanding and helpful people can be. It may not take a village to raise a child, but loving assistance from grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends sure does make it easier and more fun.
There may be public services out there that can help, too. From community outreach programs to single parent grants, you may be surprised at the variety of options there are for social and financial support as well as low-cost or free activities that will help your child learn, interact and grow.
The following single parenting tips will help you address common parenting challenges. It wouldn't hurt to keep it on your refrigerator:
- Be consistent. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. You'll hear this one a lot because it's so important.
- Keep an open mind. Life as a single parent seldom runs smoothly, so being flexible, both literally and figuratively, is a good policy.
- Tell the truth. Honesty is a two-way street. If you want children who value the truth, make sure to show them how important it is by being honest with them.
- Lose the guilt. Second guessing yourself is a single parenting trap you don't need to get caught in. It's easy to wallow in guilt, but guilt never washed the dishes or made the beds. Use the energy for something useful instead. If you made a parenting mistake -- and you will -- learn the lesson and move on.
- Put your child first. Kids need attention as well as love. If it's a choice between vacuuming and spending time reading your child a story, the dirt can wait. While you're at it, save some time for yourself once in a while, too; you'll need it to recharge your batteries.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Broadwell, Laura. "10 Ways to Reduce Single Parent Stress." 2002. 2/23/10.http://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/single-parenting/how-to-reduce-single-parent-stress/
- Darnell, Shellee M.F.C.C. "How to be the Best Single Parent You Can." Undated. 2/20/10.http://www.divorcewizards.com/Divorce-and-Single-Parenting.html
- Foust, Linda. "The Single Parents Almanac." Prima Publishing 1996.
- London, Lee. "Experts Reveal That Christmas Eve Is the Hardest Day for Single Parents." Parent World. Undated. 2/19/10http://www.parentsworld.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=254&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
- Noel, Brook and Art Klein. "The Single Parent Resource." Champion Press. 1998.
- Peace Corp. "Culture Matters." Undated. 2/19/10.http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/educators/enrichment/culturematters/introduction.html
- Ricci, Isolina, Ph.D. "Mom's House, Dad's House." Simon & Schuster. 1997.
- Single Parents Network. "Building Strong Single-Parent Families." Undated. 2/22/10.http://singleparentsnetwork.com/Articles/Detailed/245.html
- U.S. Census Bureau. "Living Arrangements of Children: 2004." 2/08. 2/19/10.http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p70-114.pdf
- U.S. Census Bureau. "Single-Parent Households Showed Little Variation Since 1994, Census Bureau Reports." 3/27/07. 2/23/10.http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/families_households/009842.html