Single Parenting—It’s Not All Gloom and Doom!
If you search “Single Parenting” on the internet, you will hit tons of articles about the repercussions of being a single parent and how kids who come from single parent households are destined for struggles their entire lives. While there are definitely difficulties associated with single parenting, it’s important for single parents to be able to focus on the advantages of parenting your child on your own and what you are doing that can go right! Your child is not setup for failure, and you can create a loving family of your own without having a partner by your side. So, what are the advantages of being a single parent? Well, let’s get started!
Single Parent Advantage #1: You decide the values to teach in your home
You are able to decide on your own what values your children will be taught. There isn’t any arguing or debating what movies they should watch, music they should listen to, who they can hang out with, or where they should be allowed to go. YOU get to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable in your home. Yes…you may have the “at mom’s/dad’s house I get to _____;” however, you have the opportunity to teach your child what your core values are and what you believe is the right way to live when he is with you. You may encounter that your ex-spouse allows things that you don’t allow. If it isn’t physically or emotionally putting the child in danger, you have to let it go if it isn’t something that can be worked out. Learning that you can’t control everything involving your child with your ex-spouse is the first key to gaining peace in your circumstances and keeping peace in your relationships. All you can control is what is taught when your child is with you as he watches you live out your core values. Remember…your child is watching you in action and will learn by watching a parent who lives out what he/she believes and consistently communicates those values in a loving way.
Single Parent Advantage #2: “Me Time”
I used to dread the time when my son would go to his dad’s because the house got quiet, and it gave me way too much time to think. Now, I plan ahead and make those times “me times” when I catch up on taking care of myself. These are times when you can catch up on housework you just can’t do when the kids are home. (Nerf gun bullets seem to just keep popping up in rooms you are trying to clean when the kiddos are there). Use this time to go to dinner or do something with friends that you can’t do as easily with kids. Watch that TV series marathon everyone is talking about. Visit family or friends who are out of town. Take a nap and catch up on rest! Take in the city events and sights that aren’t always “kid friendly.” Go to the pool…just by yourself…and relish in the fact that while all of the other parents are nervously making sure their kids are keeping heads above the water, you get to kick back, enjoy the sun, and relax! Basically, instead of looking at this time away from your kids for the loneliness that it can bring, look at it as uninterrupted time that you can fill up with those things you get to do until you are reunited at the end of the stay. If you are a single parent who has your kids 100% of the time, try to find a way to partner with another family or single parent to arrange for some time to yourself. It’s not selfish to need some time to refresh and renew. In fact, when you’re able to do that, you are a better parent for your child because you are then able to be fully present for them when you’re with them.
Single Parent Advantage #3: Building a strong relationship with your child
There is something about that focused time with you and your kids that creates a special relationship. Yes…you have to tell him/her to do his chores. Yes…you have to enforce the completion of homework. But, rather than thinking of it as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to also be able to sit with your child and work with him/her on what’s important in his life. That time at the dinner table? It’s now focused on them and how their day went rather than talking about “adult things” that come with another adult being in the house. It emphasizes to them that they matter and gives you a glimpse into their everyday events. (As a side note….try to schedule in consistently sharing meals with your kids. Studies show that in families who spend consistent meal times together, kids do better. I have a sneaking suspicion it isn’t because of the food being served…). It’s important to have that one on one time with your kids. If you’re involved with someone else, remember that your kids need time with YOU and just YOU! When another adult is there, your focus is divided, and you cannot have that one on one connection with just your child. Try to schedule a vacation or a stay-cation with just you and your child. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or lengthy. It could be something as easy as a weekend exploring what your city has to offer. Especially in the summer, many cities have cheap or free events on the weekends. You’ll find the time spent enjoying life with just each other builds that relationship and creates memories for both of you!
Single Parent Advantage #4: You get to go for your dreams!
Ok…let’s get really honest. A lot of single parents are hesitant to pursue new dreams. Life can get overwhelming and messy, and adding in something new is sometimes scary. There will always be different factors that help you justify why you can’t achieve something you’ve been wanting. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about starting this blog and then just found an excuse as to why I couldn’t. Don’t put off doing something new that you want to do! You have the unique opportunity to teach your children as they watch you pursue your dreams that it’s ok to be afraid and still be bold enough to go after what you want. You get to demonstrate for them what it means to be a problem solver! Is there a risk of failure? Maybe! In that case, you get to show your children what it looks like to fail at something, pick yourself up, and persevere towards those dreams. What a gift for your children! And, when you succeed, you get to show your children how to emulate that in their own lives as they grow up and encounter dreams of their own.
Advantage #5: You just don’t have to…
Yep…it’s as easy as that! You just don’t have to….(fill in the blank). Other than making sure your kids are taken care of well, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. As a friend of mine said to me recently when talking about being single again, she doesn’t even have to shave her legs if she doesn’t want to! You don’t have to mow that yard right now…or pick up dry cleaning…or make that bed…if you don’t want to. It’s ok on a night at home alone to just have a bowl of cereal for dinner…and put the dish in the sink instead of the dishwasher! You just don’t have to if you don’t want to!
What advantages have you experienced as a single parent?
Bottom line…yes, single parenting is hard. There are challenges. But, it’s not all bad, and seeing the positives that come with being a single parent is important in getting over the humps. I’d love to hear from you! What advantages have you experienced as a single parent?