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Be The Best Single Parent You Can

2 February 2010 3 Comments

“Broken home.” This is a derogatory label that causes much pain and misunderstanding. Too often, children living in single parent households have to contend with negative stereotypes and hurtful remarks made by Insensitive adults. Regardless of whether the single parent family exists as a result of divorce or death of the other parent, the child is clearly not responsible for the circumstances.

However, it is the child who often pays the price: the child who has to write an essay because a parent cannot afford Back to School night, the child who has to sit on the bench because he/she misses practices while visiting the other parent, the child who comes home crying from school, sad when he doesn’t know who to make a Father’s Day card for because his father died. As adults - teachers, coaches, neighbors, family, and friends, we can change our attitude, be more sensitive and compassionate, and recognize that SINGLE PARENTS RAISE GOOD KIDS TOO!

It is difficult and challenging to be a parent today, and it is even more difficult to raise children alone. We as parents are often overwhelmed and lacking the parenting skills necessary to do a good job. But good solid parenting has less to do with the number of parents in the home and more to do with the quality of parenting. Whether the single parent household is headed by a mother, father, or a grandparent, raising children alone is an enormous task. Why should we care? Because the statistics tell us that most of us will live in, know of or be involved with a single parent family at some point.

Since 1970, the number of children living in a single parent family has doubled. In fact, statistics from 1992 indicate that single parent families represent 30% of U.S. households, while 25% represent two parent households. Based on current trends, there are predictions that upwards of 70% of children born since 1980 will spend some time living in a single parent home before their 18th birthday. These children are not doomed to failure. The following strategies are offered to the single parent who is determined to raise a good kid despite the myths of doom and gloom.

1. ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

Adults and children do better when single parenthood is perceived as a viable option and not as a pathological situation. Start with a positive attitude and focus on the benefits of single parenting, such as less conflict and tension in the home. Many single parents treasure their newfound autonomy and independence and feel hopeful about the future.

2. YOU ARE THE BOSS

Establish firm, clear boundaries that leave no doubt that you are the boss In the home. Single parents (and two parent households) often make the mistake of allowing children to become equal partners or peers, and too many children are running the show. This loads to serious individual and family problems. Children need limits. Use consistent discipline that provides clear expectations and guidelines for behavior and rely on natural and logical consequences. Learn to say, “I love you enough to say NO to you.1? (My kids hate that one).

3. DEAL WITH OVERLOAD

The single parent frequently feels overwhelmed by the responsibility, tasks, and emotional overload associated with raising children alone. It is extremely important to manage time wisely and to ask for help when necessary. Assign children appropriate chores and tasks. Arrange car pools when possible, and ask other parents for help when needed. My children would not have been able to continue in club soccer were it not for the kindness of other parents providing rides to practices and games.

4. RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE ONE PERSON AND YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN.

No matter how loving and competent you are, you are still only one person and you are doing a job most agree Is meant for two people. Do not allow your children to manipulate you by making you feel guilty about the situation. Remind children that you are a team and have to work together. Give yourself credit for a job well done. You may have to wait until your kids are grown before you get any credit from them. This is where a sense of humor comes in handy!

5. CREATE A STABLE, NURTURING HOME

Nurturing is a high priority, but children also crave stability and security. While this Is important for all children, it Is especially crucial for children who have suffered 8 loss of stability due to divorce or death of a parent. Children need to feel secure and protected, and it Is our Job as parents to create a nurturing environment where they can thrive. Your children need to hear how much you love them and how proud you are. Some children may require more affection and attention than others, so know your child, and take your cue from him/her.

6. ESTABLISH SCHEDULES AND PREDICTABLE ROUTINES

Part of creating stability and security in the home involves establishing predictable schedules and routines for your children. Of course, we must not be rigid and inflexible, because children need to learn that life is not always predictable. Find a healthy balance.

7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

It is critical for your children’s well being for you to take care of yourself. There are times when you feel like you need a break. Ask other single parents to trade babysitting or hire a mother’s helper. Pay special attention to diet, exercise, stress management, and getting a good night’s sleep. Learn relaxation, yoga, meditation, visualization, or whatever healthy coping skill allows you to relieve stress and tension. Take a walk, read a book, call a friend, take a nap (my personal favorite). A stressed out parent results in stressed out kids.

8. DEVELOP A RELIABLE SUPPORT SYSTEM

Develop a wide network of people who can provide you with emotional support, companionship, help in emergencies, child- care, reality checks, etc. Be selective and choose caring, reliable, trustworthy people who will be there for you In times of need. Single parents with healthy support systems usually feel better mentally and physically and demonstrate to their children that it is OK to ask for help. Support groups for single parents offer an excellent opportunity to socialize and share with others in similar circumstances.

9. DO NOT TREAT YOUR CHILD AS A PEER

Do not confide in your child as though he/she is your peer, regardless of how mature the child appears to be. This is a common mistake made unintentionally by many single parents who turn to their child for emotional support and don’t realize they are hurting the child until after the tact. Allow children to be children, and find other adults for companionship and support.

10. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Focus on success and not on failure. Set realistic goals as a family and work together to accomplish these goals. Decide what is important and prioritize accordingly. Have family meetings on a regular basis and allow children to have In put. Learn to effectively communicate and solve family problems together while still demonstrating that you are the boss. Give your kids credit and give yourself credit.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious or stressed, get professional help. A competent therapist can help you find the light at the end of the tunnel. I know how difficult it is to be a single parent, because I raised my children alone for eight years. A great support system contributed to my ability to be a good parent and raise two good kids! You can too!!

3 Comments »

  • Karla said:

    This is good advice for any single parent.

  • Angela said:

    Single mothers face one of the most challenges job in the world. Believe it or not bringing up a child without the assistance of your male partner is no easy job. This is the situation that shows who is a true caring mother and the one who simply neglects her child just to pursue her own interests neglecting the child. Though it is not an easy job, mothers should for the time-being, put a pause to their materialistic hunger and take the child upbringing as the primary focus in life. Those women who have done this have brought up the best of men in the world and led a happy and fulfilling life. On the other hand there have been women who neglected their children in their tender years just to repent later in their lives.

  • Crystal Jacquez said:

    San Francisco, CA

    Single Moms On Facebook And MySpace Warned About Pre-Schooler Pix Online —

    “Single mothers who put photos of their pre-school kids on their social networking homepages are creating a happy hunting ground for pedophiles.”

    The warning comes from Crystal Jacquez, managing editor of Guys and Lies.com, the online back grounding site designed exclusively for women.

    “Single mothers almost always do it.” says, Jacquez. “It’s not only incredibly dangerous but worse, most single moms have absolutely no idea that it’s dangerous at all!”

    “Think of it,” continues Jacquez, “if you’re one of the tens of thousands of pedophiles with a taste for really young kids, how do you get to them? Children under five or six are just too young to be online.

    “So what does this most dangerous form of pedophiles do?” asks Jacquez, “He surfs social networking sites looking for the pages of young single mothers.

    Literally, millions of single moms are now on social networks like Facebook and MySpace — and almost all of them proudly show off photos of their kids on their homepages and profiles.

    So if you’re a pedophile stalking preschoolers, half an hour of searching out single mothers on social sites and you’ve got a dozen lush candidates – photos and all - just a few key strokes away”.

    Not only that, but these predators know that these kids are often protected only by lonely, vulnerable women — women who are looking for men who they hope love children. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! It’s a pedophile’s dream!

    Read this excerpt from a report in the journal American Psychologist, published by the American Psychological Association, regarding pedophiles stalking pre-schoolers on the internet:

    “Finding prepubescent victims directly (on the Internet) is quite rare; such offenders use the Internet in other ways. Pedophiles typically get access to preschool victims through online contact with parents”

    “If you have pictures of your child on line,” says Jacquez, “don’t be too surprised to get a message like the following from some nice sounding guy”:

    “Hey! I just saw your profile on Facebook and you are one great looking lady — and that little girl of yours is just marvelous looking! She looks so bright etc. etc. etc!”

    “You’re going to have a new best friend very soon,” she says. “Count on it!”

    Who hasn’t heard of Lolita, one of the most famous books in America, in which the pedophile gets access to the prepubescent daughter by courting her divorced mother. You can still see the movie on cable TV with James Mason and Shelley Winters as the grown-ups and Sue Lyon as Lolita.?

    Jacquez also cites the following statistic from: Offender Characteristics, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics re. Victim-offender relationships in sexual assault regarding who sexually assaults children under 6 years old.

    Who assaults children under 6 years old:

    Trusted family members: 48.6%
    Strangers: 3.1%
    Trusted family acquaintances: 48.3%

    “If a pedophile targets your child’s photo on your homepage, trust us,” says Jacquez, “they’ll become a ‘trusted family acquaintance’ soon enough.

    “Don’t close down your social network homepages” Jacquez says. “Just get those photos of your kids off them!”

    “One thing more thing,” says Jacquez, “when you meet a new guy online, check him out immediately with us at Guys and Lies.com (www.guysandlies.com). Our site is free and was built in order to empower women to check out the backgrounds of guys that they meet online.

    “First, check our Child Molesters Section where we access the photos and home addresses of over 360,000 registered sex offenders. Then check him out in our Criminal Records Section. Then check to see if he’s using a phony name. After that, check out all his claims about his background. “There is no way,” she says, “that you can be too careful.”

    Guys and Lies also has a special page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/guysandlies, and on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/guysandlies.

    Jacquez asks you to please forward this article to single moms you know who have their kid’s photos online..

    Contact:
    Crystal Jacquez, managing editor
    Guys and Lies.com
    415 678-8610
    crystal@guysandlies.com
    http://www.guysandlies.com

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