Parenthood is a big job, even when there are two parents in the home. For a single parent, the job is even bigger. Although TV and the tabloids often feature stories about Hollywood types raising children without wanting or needing a partner, most of us don't usually find ourselves aspiring to single parenthood. All too often, those of us raising kids alone are doing so because something unexpected happened, leaving the remaining parent to pull the family together while trying to cope with the aftermath of divorce, death or abandonment.
So how do you make the best of being a single parent, and raise a well-adjusted child without losing yourself (or your shirt) in the process? Unfortunately, there is no short answer to that question. Raising a child is a complicated and highly personal endeavor. But keeping a couple of simple do's and don'ts in mind can help you find your way and, hopefully, will make the journey a little less stressful.
1.DO know your rights. You may be entitled to child support, food stamps, WIC, or even social security benefits. A visit to your local division of human services can help you figure out what benefits your family might be entitled to.
2.DO save for a rainy day. Even if you don't make much money and have to stretch ever dollar, find a way to save something every month. Over time, little amounts add up, and having that cushion could make all the difference when the unexpected happens.
3.DO get organized. Get yourself, and your kids, into a routine with housework, homework and weekly activities. Establishing a routine and doing your best to stick to it will help the kids feel safe and secure.
4.DO plan for the worst. Nobody likes to think about this, but in a single-parent household it is especially important to have a will, establish guardians and purchase a life insurance policy.
5.DO go back to school. Even though it might take time, more education means a higher income, not to mention it will provide a positive example for your kids.
6.DON'T bring romantic partners around your kids too soon. Kid's get attached easily, and hurt even more easily when your new beau suddenly stops coming around.
7.DON'T assume kid's don't notice what adults talk about. Keep the venting about bills, layoffs at work, or other adult challenges for times when the kids are out of ear shot.
8.DON'T vent to your kids about their other parent, or your former in-laws. If your situation is eating you up inside and you need to talk to somebody, find a friend, call your Pastor or get some counseling, but don't dish to your kids.
9.DON'T ever feel your family is “less” in any way. As long as your kids feel loved, supported and accepted, they'll do just fine, no matter what else they may have done without while growing up.