Single and divorced parents get a lot of flack from society as a whole. There is so much information spouted about the benefits of a two-parent household. I’ll admit that I do have a class on parenting as a couple that just came out later last year but not one for single parents. So that’s something I will do to right this wrong. So I’m giving my support and admiration to all the single parents, be they 100% on their own, divorced with shared custody or “virtually” single due to a spouse in the military or other life circumstance that leaves them vastly alone on the parenting journey a majority of the time, in recognition of the very difficult journey they have.
What are some benefits of kids who come from single parent households? According to
- More Resilient A single parent must be resourceful and resilient to deal with the extra challenges of raising a child or children alone and so children pick up on this. If the child has gone through the divorce process, they know first hand that life changes are sometime out of your control. You learn to roll with it.
- More Helpful Single parents can’t be as available and do as much for their kids as two parents can and so they are generally expected to take on more responsibility to pitch in around the house as part of the family.
- More Independent One parent alone simply cannot do as much as two parents can. So the kids need to be able to do things for themselves, in these greater expectations and taking on life skills they build independence.
Anytime a coupled parent has to deal with parenting alone for any amount of time longer than three days, we are temporarily reminded of the amount of work involved in going it alone. I was thrown into single momhood AGAIN this past week when my husband was told to return to the hospital for treatment. As he was just starting to be able to help out again, he started feeling run down and off he went back to the hospital. So it’s been almost an entire month that I’ve been on my own. This weekend was pretty tough with kids needing to be in different places at once. Plus the trash, the dishes and the laundry were all piling up! I was feeling a bit overwhelmed!
So here are 3 tips particularly for single parents:
1. If Your Kids are Capable Then They are Responsible I wonder if there has ever been a study done about kids from single parent versus double parent homes in the area of life skills and responsibility? For all the negative jammed down our throats about kids from single parent home or divorced home, I’m sure there are some positives too. I wouldn’t be surprised if one them is that they are more responsible. But I don’t want to start any rumors here since I pride myself on using scientific evidence! Pass responsibility to your kids for any life processes/skills they are capable of handling. I have a friend who’s kids are in high school and one about to graduate. They’ve never had to fold a piece of clothing, learn to cook a meal or any other basic life skill. “They (meaning the family) were focused on their academics,” he said. To each his own, but in single families especially, this is not a luxury you can afford. Teach kids to fold laundry at 8, empty the dishwasher at 7, make their breakfast at 8, how to plan a project and study for a test at 9 or 10, plan and make a meal at 12 or 13, budget at 16.
2. Call on Your Village (no not this village, although we’d help if we could! Your live village) Reach out to friends and family for support and help. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but we all need each other and there will be times they will need you too. Ask them to trade driving to and from activities or school drop-offs and pickups, after-school care or just for sleepovers to get a night off. Single parents need to replenish. For ideas on ways to make sure you are taking care of you and not JUST everyone else, see the class on Peaceful Parenting Part I.
3. Organization is Your Best Friend I know it’s easier said than done but getting and then staying organized is key. It’s important for every parent but it’s a necessity for single parents. Have an organization system for your days/weeks/month. Have a family calendar and a way to keep it updated. Have scheduled times for weekly/monthly tasks that must be done such as grocery shopping, laundry, household and car maintenance activities. Then have duties assigned for laundry, dishes, and other household chores for kids if/when they are old enough. If something’s working, keep it. If it’s not, figure out what isn’t working, troubleshoot and try a different way. Have a place for things and always put them in their place. Wasting time searching for keys, glasses, phone, homework is just that, a waste of time and not something you have to waste! For lots of ways to get and stay organized in EVERY aspect of running a family and household, see the class on Family Organization.