Single Parenting: A How-to Guide
The Joys of Being a Single Parent
Parenting can often times be challenging as most of us with kids know. However, raising children can also be an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience. Being a single parent may be one of the most difficult challenges I've faced and yet I'm amazed at all I have learned from my children. They have taught me (and continue to do so) the importance of love, patience, and careful listening. My children have made me realize that life passes by quickly and even though the stresses of daily routines can create tension, it's essential to take time to enjoy what you have in the present.
My little ones make me laugh, cry, want to pull my hair out, and yet fill my days with a happiness that can only be explained by having a heart full of joy. Being a good parent and raising great kids is a lesson taught overtime. Children, unfortunately do not come with instructions and the experience of parenting can be that much more difficult when you are alone. However, each new day is a learning experience that takes you closer to discovering parenting techniques that work. Through trial and error, we learn what works as parents and what we need to change in order to guide our children on the right path in life.
It's important to understand that parenting isn't about making your children do what you want, but more adapting your parenting style to the needs of your children. Not all children are the same. I have two who are very different from one another, so I know this. I have found what works best is to change my way of parenting to adapt to what each of my children needs in order to achieve a healthy emotional, mental, and behavioral state. One that offers them the most successful life.
Updated: August 28, 2012
by lensmaster jaredsgirl
Tell Us What Kind of Parent You Are
Are you a single parent that struggles with raising your children alone?
Giving My Children a Normal Life...As a Single Mother
Giving my children a normal life isn't always easy. Since I'm a single mother, I'm forced to do things alone and make choices that don't always create happy little people (such as going to Wal-Mart after a long day of school and daycare because we are out of milk and bread). Being a single parent has it's ups and downs, but through my son and daughter I learn something new everyday. While it's easy to get frustrated with each other, somehow, we compliment each other's faults and find ways to laugh at our mistakes and goof ups. We are all extremely close and I hope our relationship always stays this way. I've made many mistakes in my life, but my children are my greatest gifts ever. How lucky I am to have been given such perfect miracles.
I worry that my son and daughter will be different from other children in the sense that both will never know what it is like to have a two person household with their biological parents. In fact, my children have never really known this luxury because I've been a single parent for most of their lives. Their father was a drinker and drove me to the point of insanity. I did not want my children to think that alcohol was the answer to all life's problems so I left their father as a way to offer each a better chance at normalcy. How odd to think you'd leave a spouse to become a single mother and think that this is giving your children a normal life. But over living in a world of alcoholic ignorance, I'd pick single parenting any day.
My children seems to be a well-rounded. They are both incredibly intelligent, very in tuned to people's emotions, and extremely confident. So, I shouldn't really worry as much as I do that my son and daughter are missing something in their lives by not having two parents to guide them in the same household. Yet every night, I spend pretty much sleepless, anxious about the decisions I've made for my little ones. They truly are the most amazing children ever...truly. I only want them to have the best of everything...as I'm sure all parents do.
Giving my son and daughter everything, as a single parent, is not an easy task. While I realize I cannot literally possibly give them EVERYTHING, I do try to fulfill their needs and wants to the best of my ability. I've gone without many times just to make them happy and healthy. As a parent, there isn't anything you wouldn't do for your children. If it's within my means, my son and daughter will have it. On that note, because I am a single mother with a guilty conscience, I worry about overly spoiling my children. Many single parents tend to try and make up for their child not having a two parent household by giving their children everything they want. Many parents believe this brings their children happiness. But this kind of happiness is only temporary.
While I do give my children toys and games on a more consistent basis than I should, they only receives these gifts with meaning. Every fun item given to my babies is positive reinforcement. They are rewarded gifts for good behavior at daycare, school, good grades, getting ready quickly in the morning, playing nice with others...,etc. Yes, I do agree that children should not be given gifts for every little behavior they do. But, as a single parent, the guilt of breaking up your children's family just eats at you and there isn't anything you won't do to try and make it better. So, the way I justify giving my son and daughter what they want is to let them know each time that they are getting a gift for good reason. And honestly, their good behaviors have far outweighed the bad.
I also try to give my son and daughter a normal life by simply spending time with them. I've realized how precious time is as a single parent and how tough it can be to spread this time out evenly. But, no one deserves more of my time than my children. In order to help them live in normalcy, we do things together as often as possible. This sometimes means leaving laundry unfinished, dishes in the sink, and the toilet a little dingy. And, with my obsessive compulsive behavior, it can be quite a challenge leaving chores undone. But if I'm able to give my children a more normal life by spending one on one time with them, I'd leave every chore everyday just to make their lives amazing. Even spending an hour together in between household routines makes a difference to them. Whether we play video games, a board game, or simply read a book together every night before bed, I know that I've touched their lives in a way that helps them to forget, at least temporarily, that they come from a single parent household.
Favorite Fun Kids Songs
My kids and I love singing these songs in the car or at home while dancing around. It's so much fun for them and it gives us bonding time. Check them out and come up with your own little dances at home!
Raising a Confident Child
How to Encourage Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
Children who are confident deal with situations better, come up with creative solutions, create happy lasting relationships, and go on to do great things with their lives as adults. Raising a confident child is not easy, but if you can take the time to nurture your child and support his independence, you'll watch him turn from a dependent, shy person, into a child (and later adult) who is sure of himself and his actions.
Help your child be confident by giving him lots of praise and encouragement. Praise his accomplishments and tell your child that he worked very hard to finish what he started. Make the praise be sincere. Don't just praise the outcome your child creates, but praise his hard work. If your child completed a project for school, tell him that your proud of the time he put into finishing it, rather than telling him how great the project looks. In other words, don't praise the object, praise the creator.
Foster confidence in your child by telling him you love him each and everyday...no matter what he has or hasn't done. Your child needs to know that you love him unconditionally, and while most parents do, a child does not always know this if he has done something wrong. When a child has disappointed his parents, he may feel bad about himself and need the extra dotes of love. Tell your child that you 'love him through all he does, bad and good, and that will never ever change, even if your upset with him'.
Enhance your child's confidence by trusting him to make his own decisions. Even at an early age, children need the space and independence to make decisions about certain things. You can help your child gain confidence by allowing him to choose what he wants for breakfast, what he can wear to school, what chore he wants to do first...etc. If you are not comfortable allowing your child to choose things all on his own or he is too young to make that decision, offer him two choices that you approve of and allow him to pick which he would like.
Promote confidence by offering support to your child in all that he does, even if you don't agree with him. Your child may make decisions that he feels are right and you won't always agree. It's good to tell him this, but be sure to always support him and be understanding of why he wants certain things. Support also includes an open communication with your child. When your child knows you support him, even if you don't agree with his decisions, he will be more apt to come to you to talk and this will help him form better relationships with other people in his life.
Learn How to Raise a Confident Child
Co-parenting With Your Ex
Ways to Do Best By Your Child and Still Keep The Peace
Co-parenting may well be the toughest job you ever do. Not only do you have to worry that you are raising your child to the best of your ability, but you are also well aware of the parenting job your ex is, or isn't, doing with your child in his home. Issues can arise between homes when both parents are not on the same page. However, there are ways to put your heads together regardless of the situation that caused the two of you to become separated and forced to raise your child alone. Here are some tips to help you out.
Try to keep communication open
As hard as it may be to do, it is vital to always listen and talk about issues that affect your children. You may not agree with what your ex has to say, but showing that you are listening will encourage him to do the same for you. A free flow of ideas that can help your children grow will be a more effective way of parenting than closing yourself off to what your ex has to say about parenting. However, your conversations should remain focused on your children only if you have issues getting along with one another. No past issues or upset should be communicated if it causes a fight that your children will see.
Ask for help when you need it
Don't be afraid to ask your ex for help when things get overwhelming. Chances are, he'll be asking for your help as well as long as you keep the co-parenting relationship respectful and harmonious. Sometimes things can get tough for single parents. That's when you can use your exs help the most. It may be hard to open up and ask for help especially from someone who you may still have past issues with, but remember, he is the father of your child and will want to do what is right by his offspring.
Don't fight around the children
When learning how to co-parent with your ex, still to the issues that only concern your children and save other troubles for a time when the kiddos are not around. It is important for your children to see you and your ex get along. Not only is it emotionally healthy for them, but it will also cause them a lot less stress and guilt. If you feel that you and your ex cannot fight without talking in person, then save concerning issues for a later time when they can be communicated over the phone.
Try new things even if you don't like them
Effective co-parenting sometimes means trying things that your ex suggests with your children. As long as those concepts involve safe and healthy measures, there is nothing wrong with trying something new. By working as a team to resolve issues with your child, you are allowing your ex to have input in parenting. This will encourage him, in turn, to allow you to try ideas of your own. It may be difficult for you to let go and allow your ex to have input in raising your children, but in the end, it will have great benefits.
Co-Parenting Tips for Single Parents
The Co-Parenting Survival Guide:
Letting Go of Conflict After a Difficult Divorce
Parents Are Forever:
A Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming Successful Coparents After Divorce
Ten Keys to Successfual Co-Parenting
Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce
Single Parenting Techniques: Overly Loving Your Child
Can You Spoil Your Child by Buying Him Gifts for Good Behaviors?
Yes. Children should never be given gifts for behaving well.
Raising Babies: Tips for Single Parents of Infants
Raising an infant can be a challenge within itself, but throw in the mix a single parent home and you have the recipe for many nights of stress and tension. But raising an infant on your own doesn't have to be a scary feat. In fact, there are many advantages to being the single parent of an infant that most people may not realize. Focusing on these pros can help to relieve some of the fear of raising an infant alone and help single parents to relax when faced with the difficult choices they have to make for their children.
The first positive is that there is no one else to tell you that you're doing something wrong. Since effective parenting is nothing more than many instances of trial and error, single parenting means you are given lots of freedom to make mistakes. This takes the stress out of worrying that you aren't pleasing someone else in the household. There are many times that parents don't agree on specific child rearing practices. This in itself can cause parental stress. But knowing you have the freedom to make your own choices when it comes to parenting your infant alone can help to ease some of the worry that you may be doing something wrong.
You are only one person so take it easy on yourself. Single parenting can be very frustrating when you feel like you don't have enough time in the day or hands to complete a task. But you have to remember that you are in a one person family and that certain chores do not have to be tackled right away. Do your best to complete what you can and save the rest for another day. Raising an infant is hard when you feel the pressure to get housework done. The most important thing to remember is that your baby is priority number one and as long as he or she is fed, changed, and happy, you have no other obligations that must be done immediately. Also remember, there is noone else in the house to tell you that things need done, so you can let anything slide that you wish.
Most babies do take daily naps. Infant naps can be the best time to relax, get things done, or just get rest yourself. It can be very scary to raise an infant alone, but knowing that your baby will eventually take a nap during the day should help to relax your fears of having a break or getting stuff done. Many parents are lucky and have a baby that will nap for a couple hours. Some parents, however, only get about a 20 minute break (like me). However long you get to have some peace of mind, take that time. Sometimes just knowing that time will be coming is enough to make single parents feel more at ease and calm.
Getting a sitter can help give you a break. If you're like a lot of single parents, you may not have family around that can help you get a break from parenting your baby when you need it. And yes, you will need breaks...this does not make you a bad parent. Find a family friend that you can trust or ask around to see who is the best sitter for an infant your child's age. You'll be amazed at how effective word of mouth can be. Every single parent needs a rest from parenting, even if this time is used just to get things done you've been needing to finish. In fact, it's a good idea to utilize this sitter a few times a week or atleast once a week just to refresh your mind and body. Taking time for yourself can be an incredibly effective way to help you as a single parent.
Single Parent Tips for Raising Infants
Everything Single Parents Should Know About Raising Infants
Single Parenting and Discipline - Effective parenting
We all have parenting skills and experience that we can discuss and many of you have some great ideas for parents who are just starting out or those who have recently been through some life changes. In any case, we can all help each other with discipine ideas since this is a topic that comes up quite often for single parents, especially.
Do you agree with using timeouts as a discipline measure for negative behaviors?
Single Parents Guide to Discipline
Effective Ways to Discipline Your Child
Single Parenting Advice Just for Fathers
Why I Love Baby Einstein!!
Both of my children were raised on Baby Einstein videos (my daughter still is). The reason I chose Baby Einstein as a single parent is for the wonderful learning experience my son and daughter have both gained. Not only did they easily and quickly pick up on words and sounds, but they also learned their shapes, colors, and numbers so fast that I nearly fainted when my son could count to 10 at the age of 1 1/2. I highly recommend Baby Einstein for any parent who is looking to expand their child's knowledge and help prepare them someday for preschool. Here are the reasons why...
1. My children got excited about learning and Baby Einstein kept their attention for as long as the videos were on.
2. My son began speaking to me in full sentences that could be understood at the age of 2 1/2 (I credit Baby Einstein).
3. My daughter could make cat and dog noises at the age of 11 months (again I credit the videos).
4. The Baby Einstein videos allow me to get things done around the house because they foster independent play in my children.
5. The videos allow me and my children to bond by watching them together and then repeating what we saw.
For more on Baby Einstein, check out their website!
Baby Einstein Videos for Learning
When my son was young, he absolutely loved Baby Einstein videos. I loved them also as I found him learning new concepts quickly and easily. Now that my daughter is a year old, she too loves Baby Einstein and I can see her vocabulary and learning style expanding. I highly recommend these to any parent who wants to teach their children the world. Hint: these videos are also great for keeping your child busy so you can get things done around the house...time that every single parent needs!
Money Tips for Single Parent Households
As most single parents know, money can get tight in a one parent household. Here is some great advice to help you stretch those dollars!