Single-Parent HouseholdsJuly 11, 2019
This week’s tip has been adapted from Parents Magazine. According to the Kids Count Data Center run by the Annie E Casey Foundation, around 35% of children in the US today grow up in a single-parent family. Although the circumstances of each family vary (some are affected by divorce or death, others are single parents by choice), there are certain stressors that these households share. Read below for some tips on how to manage and minimize your stress.
1. Set Up a Support System
All single parents need help – whether it’s someone to watch the kids while you run out to do errands or simply someone to talk to when you feel overwhelmed. While it’s tempting to try to handle everything alone, ask friends and family members for help. You could join a single-parent support group, or, if finances allow, hire a trusted sitter to help out with the kids or someone to assist with housework.
2. Be Honest
Inevitably, questions will come up about the changes in your family, or about the absence of one parent. Answer your child’s questions in an open, honest, and age-appropriate way. Make sure that your child gets the help and support he needs to deal with difficult emotions.
3. Treat Kids like Kids
With the absence of a partner, it’s sometimes tempting to rely too heavily on children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But children have neither the emotional capacity nor the life experience to act as substitute adult partners. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, or expressing your frustrations to them too often, seek out adult friends and family members to talk to. Or seek counseling if necessary.
4. Take Time and Abolish Guilt
It’s always easy for single parents to feel guilty about the time they don’t have or the things they can’t do or provide for their children. But for your own sense of well-being, it’s better to focus on all the things you do accomplish on a daily basis and on all the things you do provide. Even though the piles of laundry and dirty dishes may beckon, set aside time each day to enjoy your kids. (After all, isn’t that what parenting is all about?) Spend quiet time playing, reading, going for a walk, or simply listening to music together. And most importantly, focus on the love between you and on your relationship as a family.
Have a great summer! We’ll see you in September with many more tips for the next season. For more from Parents Magazine, click here.