In the journey of life, your relationship status may change. What never changes is your parenting status. You may be called a widow/widower or a divorcee but you will always be called a parent. Even if you are no more a co-parent, you are still a single parent. Parenting in itself is a challenging task, the challenges double when you become a single parent. Your responsibilities as a parent doubles and it becomes utmost important for you to take great care of your child. Being a single parent has its own challenges as well as perks. But the challenges often surpass the rewards. Here are a few challenges of single parenting:
Loneliness: Death, divorce or separation, whatever be the reason that has made you a single parent; it is difficult to fill the physical and emotional void that it creates. In the beginning, it is really tough to overcome the loneliness and prepare oneself to become a single parent.
Financial burden: A single parent has to be financially independent. This is quite a difficult challenge, especially for single moms. As a single parent, you have to manage the finances on your own. There will be no one to share your financial burden. One cannot expect financial support from society and family members for long. In order to take proper care of your child's needs, you will have to become financially independent.
Emotional stress and guilt: The toughest challenge for single parents is to face their kids’ questions. 'Why do I have only one parent when all other kids in my class have two?’ is a question that a single parent has to face quite frequently while raising a child alone. This particular question can take you on a guilt trip. This is the time when one starts to think what if I had shown a bit more patience for the sake of my kid. Guilt is the most common emotion that every person has to go through after a divorce. A single parent can be so emotionally exhausted that it results in the upbringing of the child.
Multiple responsibilities: As a single parent you have to play multiple roles in your life. You have to be both a father and a mother to your child. You have to take care of the household chores as well as office work. When you have to do everything on your own, life becomes more challenging.
But, no matter how tough single-parenting challenges may seem, you can still become a strong single parent by turning the challenges into absolute rewards.
How to be a strong single parent!
Here are a few tips to become a strong single parent:
● Stay positive: Raising a child on your own can be physically and mentally exhausting. Your days can be hectic. This is the time when all kind of negative thoughts come to your mind and you feel like giving up. To become a strong single parent, you have to keep negativity at bay by focusing on the positives. Think about your kids, their future and all the love that you can shower upon them.
● Be open to your kids: Answer your kids’ questions with full honesty. Talk to them and share your struggles and emotions with them. This will help in developing mutual understanding. Knowingly or unknowingly, you would be spoiling your children by ignoring their questions. Never show your frustration and anger on your kids. This can leave a drastic impact on the mental health of the child. If you are not sure how to express your feelings and talk to your kids, a counselor can help you with it. Don't hesitate in seeking the help of counselling centres.
● Find time for your kids: Being a single-parent doubles your responsibilities as you have to carry the extra baggage of financial burden. Take time out of your busy schedule to sit down with your kids, to help them with their studies, to play with them and to listen to their stories. You can start with preparing a daily routine to manage your time.
● Build and maintain good connections: Raising a child alone is not at all a walk in the park. Throughout your life, there will be several occasions where you will require the guidance and support of others. So, you have to build a network of people you can trust on. Seek their support and advice whenever it is required.
● Trust yourself: It is true that, ‘Money can't buy happiness, but money does matter.’ Have confidence in yourself that you can step out of your home and find a job to take care of your family's financial needs. Single dads should have faith in themselves while they play the role of a mother to their daughters.
Just because you are a single-parent, it doesn't mean you can't succeed as a parent. In fact, being a single parent can make you stronger than ever before. Rise above your circumstances to become a strong single-parent.
(Idea of this article is taken from the Malayalam article of Sandhya Rani published in 'Ayurarogyam' Magazine March 2016. To read in Malayalam click here)