Dear Single Parent
So the story goes: you get divorced OR you and your beau breaks up OR you were single and had a one night fling. Either way your story goes, you've now found yourself in a situation where you are raising a child by yourself. Single Mother or Father!!! There are some people who legitimately want to raise their child or children by themselves, and that of course is their choice. But for others, I'd say that they actually wanted their child to have a two-parent home.
The hardest part: Thinking that your child is now a "statistic". No one wants their child to have to explain to their classmates or friends, the reason why their mommy and daddy don't live in the same house. It's embarrassing and it’s also a heavy burden for a child to carry. It's like they have to grow up quicker than you'd anticipated. That's hard!
The period of guilt: Now this part comes and goes but it’s always there. The guilt you feel because you have disappointed your child or children. You secretly promised to be the best parent you can be and this "single situation" (in your mind) is contrary to that. Or when they have a moment at school where they've acted out, that thought of guilt will run through your mind. It's difficult to explain to others because all they will say is "you can't assume blame for that". Which is true...but you can't help how you feel.
Moving on: At some point, one person will move on first. This can be a tough, tough pill to swallow. Not necessarily because of lingering feelings for that ex but because of the potential exposure of that other person in your child's life. It's a tough pill because if it's on your ex side, you don't know who that person is and you don't want that person influencing your child. If it's on your side, there's a fear of exposing them to the person too soon because it may not work out.
Dear Single Parent...
So what do you do with all of this? How can you go back to providing what you considered to be a normal life for your child? Here are my five tips (no particular order):
1. Set the right example for your child or children. Now that you're in this situation, you have to be "the constant thing" in that child's life. Depending on the other parent is not an option. You have to do what YOU have to do to make sure that your child is covered from top to bottom. The environment that you expose your child to will have a much more lasting effect than the “single” situation.
2. Pray over your child DAILY. This has saved me more than anything else I can think of. There are times when my words aren't enough to get my child through a situation. At that point, I turn to the creator of all things. I pray for my child as if my life depends on it. Pray without ceasing.
3. Love them, don't confuse them. Because of this single parenting situation, we tend to confuse our children by overly showering them with material things as our way of showing love (and making up for the guilt we feel). That's not love! In fact, that confuses them. You don't want your child growing up looking for love in materialistic things. Show them love but don't overdo it or do it in the wrong way. You got this!
4. Transparency is better than being fake. I learned this a while back while I was trying to hide the reality of something in front of my daughter. I was trying to protect her but forgot that she was human too and could see right from wrong. Be transparent with your kid(s) when the time and topic is appropriate. This is a difficult one but keep in mind that you are teaching your kid(s) right from wrong. Therefore they know "right from wrong" and will be sure to point it out to you. Don't be fooled in thinking that you're shielding them in telling them a protective lie. Key word there is LIE. Just keep it real!
5. Talk to your kids on a consistent basis. The airways of communication should always be open between you and your child/children. You should be the safest place for them to come to in their time of need. Think about the place you consider being safe; there's no judgment, you can be yourself, there's no negativity, it's peaceful, etc. That should be the atmosphere or vibes your kid(s) feel when they are talking to you. That takes time to develop so start NOW.
There are many more "tips" I can add but these seem to be the most impactful for me so far.
Three things to remember: 1. Understand that kids are mini humans who thinks the information they know now is enough to move forward in life and you (parent) don't know that much (at least in their eyes). 2. Understand that they too are in a fight trying to find their identity, friends, purpose...all of that. 3. Understand that you are the right person that God saw fit to parent this child. 4. Lastly, remember, you're not the only one going through this....we all experience the joys and drops in parenting but all in different seasons.