Raising daughters as a single mom
When it's a household of females
As a single mom, there are many challenges when raising girls. If there is no father in the picture, it can be a challenge to present positive male role models and help your daughters to grow up to be well-rounded, secure women with healthy relationships. There are negatives and positives to being a single mom to girls.
Self-empowerment for girls
One of the challenges many single mothers face is low self esteem. Often this can be the result of the circumstances that led you to become a single parent: failed relationships, abuse, feeling alone. As a mom, it is your duty to demonstrate self confidence to your daughters. An insecure mother demonstrates insecurity to their children, and this is what they will learn. It is important to feel competent, capable, and strong. Do whatever you need to do to build your own self esteem, so you can demonstrate this strength to your daughters; they need it!
There are so many opportunities to demonstrate the strength that a woman is capable of. If you don't already have the skills to be independent, learn them and teach your daughters. Some of the simple things that, traditionally, were "man" duties can easily be done. Show your daughters that females can change their own oil or handle household repairs. Even if you previously had a husband/significant other to do these things for you, teach yourself these skills. It can be quite empowering to know that you don't "need" a man around the house to take care of things.
Make yourself and your daughters feel empowered by ensuring self-protection. Taking a self-defense course can be a great mother-daughter bonding experience, in addition to learning to keep safe and protect yourself. Teach your children to be aware of their surroundings in all situations, and discuss scenarios and solutions for troublesome situations.
Dating and relationships
As a single mom of girls, it is very important, when dating, to demonstrate healthy relationships. Model what a good dating relationship looks like: don't put up with any mistreatment and don't settle for less than you deserve in a relationship. This is so important, because your children are watching you, and by dating, you are showing them the ropes. If you are dating someone who stresses you out, makes you worry, doesn't call when he/she is supposed to, you are telling your daughters that this type of behavior is okay. You must be very conscientious about this.
The value of female bonding
In a household of all females, there are lots of opportunities for female bonding. This can be a very rewarding part of parenting. Sisters and the mother/daughter relationship can be very fulfilling. Taking classes together, day trips, mani/pedi dates, even picnics can be special time together. If you start young, talking and bonding can become a regular part of the mother/daughter relationship. Listen to what your daughters have to say. Try to avoid judgement when they confide in you. The more open you are to listening, the more open they will be to talking. If you can keep open communication when your daughters are young, it is much easier to continue this throughout the preteen/teen years, when there are many more bumps in the road. If your daughters know that they can talk to you about anything, they will be more likely to talk to you about the things that really matter.
It is also important, with daughters, to make sure never to compare them to one another. Remember that they are individuals, appreciate their differences, and make them feel okay about who they are. There will always be some conflict and competition among siblings; as a parent, it is not your job to completely prevent conflict, but intervene when necessary and remember that they will always be sisters first. Encourage bonding between sisters whenever possible, and try to avoid getting involved in their arguments. Let them try to work it out for themselves, and never take sides.
Set careful boundaries
When building relationships with your daughters as a single mom, it is important to make sure that you keep clear boundaries. As important as it is to bond with them and do "girl" things with them, it is important to establish that you are still mom. You will never be their equal, and at the end of the day, you are still the mom. It's hard to keep these boundaries sometimes as a single parent, but letting these lines blur can be a recipe for a disaster and lead to an unhealthy emotional situation for all. Your daughters have friends, they don't need you to be their friend. You want them to want to spend time with you, but you also want to be the one to guide them into adulthood. Keep communication open, but respect the adult/child boundary.
Remember the rewards
Raising daughters, any children for that matter, as a single parent is unquestionably challenging. Some days will be tougher than others. Some days you might long for an idyllic, happy relationship but be faced with the reality of angry faces, yelling, and slammed doors. Remember that there is good with the bad, and no bad day lasts forever. The most important thing is to make sure that your daughters always know that you will always love them, no matter what. Let them know that, although you may be unhappy with their behavior, you still love them and want to spend time with them. Even if you don't feel appreciated now, keep in mind that you are having a positive effect, and later down the road, even if they may not see it now, your girls will respect you for all that you have accomplished and done for them on your own.