Single Parent Families
Raising children can be both rewarding and challenging. It can also seem like an overwhelming task at times. Single parenting can be even more difficult. One parent must try to do the work of two, and issues may be complicated by the other parent, or relatives and friends who all have their own idea of how children should be raised.
Single parent families often come about as a result of the loss, separation or divorce of the parents. This is a very difficult time for everyone involved, but especially for the children. It is important for parents to remember that the children are going through a painful and often frightening experience. Children may feel angry, hurt and confused. They may feel it is their fault.
Behavior problems such as aggression, defiance and withdrawal are common for up to a year or more after a major change in the family. Understanding children's normal feelings and responses to a loss or separation of the family can help single parents deal with problem behaviors and provide support as they adjust to living in a single parent home.
Children in single parent homes need reassurance that the situation is not their fault. They also need the same love, limits and consequences as any other children. Following are some suggestions that may help parents deal with some of the challenges of single parenting.
- Get support and help from others. Talk with friends, other parents, or professionals to get information and ideas on parenting or dealing with specific problems.
- Set realistic goals. Remember that it takes time to adjust. Work on developing patience and a sense of humor.
- Remember, no one's perfect, and it's OK to make mistakes. They are guidelines to learn from, nothing more. Recognize accomplishments and improvements in yourself and your children.
- Reduce problems with discipline by explaining to children that rules may be different somewhere else, such as when they are staying with the other parent or relatives. Clearly state limits and expectations when the children are in your home.
- Don't put children in the middle of interactions between parents, relatives or other adults. Resist the urge to make negative comments about the other parent or relatives in front of the children - reserve criticism for conversations with a friend or other adult.
- Have family meetings to discuss issues such as chores, schedules and plan activities.
- Involve children in family decisions as much as their age and ability allows. Let them help set consequences for breaking rules or misbehaving.
- Make time to have fun together as a family.
- Don't forget to take care of yourself. Take time to relax, have fun and be with friends. It's much easier to deal with challenges when your are not feeling stressed out.
For more information, or other questions or comments, call the Trinity Child and Adolescent Program at (51 S) 574-6596.
This article was written by Pam Lehman, a counselor with the Trinity Recovery Center at Trinity Regional Hospital. Pam has a Master of Science degree in counseling.
Reprinted with the permission of the Community Action Network. © Community Action Network, All Rights Reserved.
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