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Parents play an imperative role throughout a child's life. From helping the children in learning their first steps to helping them deal with the confusions and curiosities of adolescence to making them aware of the value of relationships, parents act as the first teachers, guides and the greatest support systems for children. Warm and nurturing parenting lays down strong foundations for development and growth of children.
Raising children is one of the most challenging phases that a person goes through and is undoubtedly a major responsibility. Even more so when the entire responsibility falls on a single parent. Being a single parent after a divorce, separation or the death of a partner can wear the person down emotionally, financially and physically. As a single parent one not only has to focus on restructuring his or her life but at the same time focus on bringing up his or her child. Being a single parent in India adds an additional baggage of having to deal stereotypes, prejudices and vile remarks. It is even more difficult for single moms in India as they serve as an easy target for gossip and discrimination.
The loss of a parent due to death or the decision of the parents to divorce or separate can be heartbreaking for a child. Life in a single parent household can be quite stressful and difficult for the adult and the children. Single parenthood itself is not necessarily the source of the problems, but it is a combination of economic pressures, family instability and conflict between parents that causes the problems. A single parent having adequate resources may be able to provide a stable and nurturing home in which children blossom as well as those belonging to a two parent household. On the contrary, a single parent who has to struggle to support the household would have little time, energy or skill for parental responsibilities and duties which might increase the risk for children developing a variety of problems. Moreover, single parents are more likely to move, remarry or live with different partners. Such disruptions can have adverse effects on children. Uncertainty and emotional turmoil can increase the chances of a child developing psychological pitfalls as well as problems relating to school performance and peer relations. Children and adolescence with divorced or separated parents might have reduced expectations for their own relationships later in their lives and might crave affection, especially if the work schedule of the parent makes it hard for the parent to spend quality time with their children. Although being a parent can be a burden sometimes but looking over the process of how a child blossoms into an adult is not only rewarding but also beautiful.
Tips on how to deal with being a single parent:
In case of a divorce or a separation it is essential to let your children know about the any changes that are taking place and allow them to talk about their feelings. Children are perceptive enough to notice the heated arguments and discussions. Hiding the status of your relationship in trying to present a rosy picture will make it harder for your child to accept and adjust with a new life without one parent.
~ Shield the children
A divorce or a separation is undoubtedly a trying time for both partners but it is important to shield the kids from parental conflict. The children should not be encouraged to take sides. Both parents must find a way to work things with an ex-spouse for the sake of the children.
~ Focus on the positives
Growing in a single parent household often take on more responsibility which in turn teaches them to be more independent. Recognizing your children’s contributions can help strengthen your child’s self confidence, self esteem and self-worth.
~ Resolve your own feelings
The loss of a partner due to death or a failed relationship may pose as an emotional burden on the parent as well. It is also important to pay attention to and resolve your own feelings. Your children are always affected by your moods and attitudes. In order to help your child move on it is important for you to move on.
~ Spend time with family
Being a single parent can sometimes be burdening and overwhelming. The most important thing that a parent can give to his or her child is time. Setting aside some time each day to enjoy with your children is a must.
~ Maintain Discipline
Divorced or separated parents must also work together to discipline their children in a consistent manner.
~ Accept Support
No doubt that a single parent has to put a brave face on and be there for his or her child but it is impractical to try and handle everything by them. You will need the support that family and friends can give.
~ Maintain a routine
The uncertainty and disruptions that are a result of divorce or a separation can create havoc for children and adolescence. In such situations, a routine will help them feel more secure. Schedule meals, chores, and bedtimes at regular times every day so that your children know what to expect each day and when.
~ Treat children as your children
Although being a single parent and handling all the responsibilities alone can get lonely, children must be treated as children. Try not to rely on them for comfort or sympathy.
~ Take time out for yourself
Being a single parent does not mean that the parent cannot have time for themselves. Time spent away from children is important for both the children as well as for the parent. Get your siblings or friend to babysit and enjoy some time alone doing things that you like or go out with friends or practice a hobby.