Families come in all shapes and sizes. There are those with two kids, and two adults, there are those with one child and two adults, four adults and one child, and so on. There are even those with just a single parent. The world in general is accepting of all these families but the dynamics of each one are different.
How all families are the same…
Love – Those who love each other and support each other are a family. You will see the love in all shapes and sizes too. It can be in the shape of a large laddoo or in a flat hot dosa or paratha. May be in a hug that has four people in it or just two – it is all love.
Support- Families support one another in times of need. It may be as a mom who stays awake as her child studies for an exam, or a father who packs lunch for the entire family so they can get to their day time tasks on time.
Laughter and happiness - Families have fun together. While each family has its own definition of fun and enjoys their togetherness in their own way, it is laced with laughter and happiness.
How are families different…
Structure - Some families are multi-generational, while others just have a parent and child. Some might have all adults leaving home for work every day; others may have stay at home or work from home adults.
Style – Tough love, consensus, free range or any other kind of parenting – we all have our own ways of dealing with parenting issues though we all want our kids to be happy, healthy adults.
The thing to remember is that just like we are all unique individuals, our families are also unique.
No matter what the size, shape, or composition of our family, we all have our challenges and triumphs. In the case of single parenting, it often falls on that one parent to cover the roles and duties and responsibilities that are shared by two parents. This could make parenting a little more stressful, but sometimes, it just helps to remember that much of what we do is the same for all parents.
Show your love. Remember whether you are just one parent or part of a pair, shower your child with love. Children thrive on love and it does not matter if it comes just from a single source.
Create a structure — Children do well when they know what to expect. Regular meal times, bed time, school etc work for children and help them grow and develop normally.
Quality of child care. This might not be easy whether you are part of a couple or a single parent, but good care in the absence of your own supervision is extremely important, especially when you do not have anyone else to lean on. Pay close attention to this and build a relationship.
Provide exposure – Let your child socialize. Expose them to different families, customs, places etc. This helps them learn about others and gain perspective, which in turn helps them adjust better.
Set limits. It is harder to set limits as you might be legislative, executor, and jury when it comes to behavior. However, it is important to set limits and enforce the, Get anyone else who partakes in child care to enforce them as well.
All this is very similar to all families and parents.
However, as a single parent, we might forget to take care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves makes us better and helps us cope with parenting challenges. So here are some tips for enabling better single parenting.
Ditch the guilt. Don't blame yourself if you take a stumble or tow. Eery one does and its okay as long as you have your child’s interests at heart and are learning as you go.
Do not spoil your child to make up for being a single parent. Discipline is about setting limits and your child will thank you in the longer run.
Take care of yourself. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physical activity, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep are as important for you as they are for your child. Alone time and adult time with good company are essential. Build them into your family routine.
Lean on others. Single parenting does not mean parenting alone. Friends, family and co- workers can all be leaned upon.
Stay positive. Honesty with your child and yourself is great, but it is also important to be positive. There are ups and downs in all lives, but stay on course and be positive.
Role models – Have role models of the opposite sex in your life so your child gets to see the interaction, learn from it. An uncle, a grandfather, an aunt or a grandmother can be all good role models.
Open conversation – Keep channels of conversation open with your child. This is especially important as you want to have that through their growing years when they may have questions that can be answered only by you.
Single parenting can be a choice or just circumstances but the tenets of respect and love are a constant. Stay positive, find your community and happy parenting!