This article gives a hands-on guide on “How to overcome single parenting challenges”.
Read on to learn to get an overview of some of this advice that can be used EVERY DAY!
What are the Challenges of Single Parents?
Quite a number of parents are really prepared to deal with the aftermath of the loss of a partner regardless of the cause.
Most often time, feelings of desperation, being overwhelmed, and stressed out are very typical.
Single parenting demands can seem overwhelming and nothing to snuff at.
Challenges and steep hills to climb on any given day are not to be underestimated!
Yes, the challenges are very real, and so are the rewards.
You can make a difference by becoming a successful single parent.
Below are some major and initial challenges most single parent encounters;
You may recognize a few of these challenges already or be able to add a couple of your very own
- Dealing with the loss of a partner, lover, friend, and parent
- Assuming additional roles and responsibilities
- Accepting and adjusting to the new role and circumstances
- Ensuring continuity and preventing disruption for the children and family
- Assisting children to cope with the situation, loss, and circumstance
- Dealing and handling your own emotions and changed condition
- Struggling with societal prejudice and stigma of single-parent homes and caregiving
- Adequate care and fostering the needs of the children
- Building self-confidence
- Feelings of doubt, low self-esteem, and inadequacy
- Balancing effective parenting with career (work/home) life
- Time and financial constraints
- Dealing with the rest of the family, stepfamily, dating, and support networks
Are there helpful Strategies?
Here are some strategies that can help you right away as a single parent on
this journey ahead:
- Learn to communicate directly with your children NOT at them
- Loving, consistent discipline with tough rules that matter and are the same day-to-day, providing security in uncertainty are essential – communicate and execute them well in all that you do and attempt.
- Clear communication and firm decision-making will help your new family unit.
- Multi-tasking and managing different things, roles, and responsibilities all by yourself and sometimes all at once too.
- Making every second count and working SMARTER, not HARDER.
- Doing more with less really counts.
- Being a committed parent every moment, taking all responsibility for the attention and care of their children
- Use and call on support by reaching out to others will keep you sane.
Dealing with social, emotional, and even economic pressures can be complex. Hence, there is a need for help and support.
What do we mean by ‘single parenting’?
They are the ones facing a new situation, reality, and challenge, maybe even new physical surroundings and some drastic changes.
When dealing with single parenting, involves the sole custodial parent and the children.
It may also include different networks and contexts they find themselves. These include families, grandparents, school friends, acquaintances, and neighborhoods.
The single parent can be male or female and the reasons for being a single parent may vary greatly too.
They are effectively left with the task of sole parenting and all related roles and responsibilities. They are the sole caretaker and supporters. This is single parenting.
A teenage girl who gets pregnant and opts to keep the baby, not abort or marry the father is also an example of a single parent.
Why the dual focus rewards and challenges?
The challenges and rewards of single parenting are complexly interwoven.
Just like flip sides of the same coin. There are different stages in this process of becoming, living, functioning, and thriving as a single parent:
1. FACING FACTS AND REALITY: Transitioning into being a single parent begins with a situational assessment and reality check.
2. SETTING GOALS AND PRIORITIES: It involves you structuring and organizing the new family unit, circumstance, and surroundings
3. FUNCTIONING AS A FAMILY: by fostering relationships and bonds, trust, honesty, disciplines, roles, responsibilities, etc.
4. SOCIETY AND SUPPORT: Such as school, family, friends, dating, family management
5. DEALING WITH SPECIFICS: Such as Death, Divorce, Abandonment
This process is a gradually unfolding series of events in which parents must:
- Master new demands
- Help children cope and thrive (despite the change, loss, and adjustment)
- Learn to cope on their own
- Moving from old to new context and reality
This is a work in progress and it usually takes time.
TWO (2) KEY STEPS TO BE TAKEN AS A SINGLE PARENT
When breaking from the old on one hand, and getting on with the new on the other.
The first, deals with the emotional side and the empathic responses, whilst the second deals more with direction and strategic aspects of single parenting.
1. Breaking with the old
This means that as a single parent you have to at the very least take the time and effort to;
- Address hurt and pain, loss and/or betrayal, abandonment, etc.
- Dealing with very real feelings and emotions like denial, anger, and protecting self/children from pain, trying to focus on the positive.
- Giving each other some space to work through it in their own way
- Ensure self and children are emotionally ready to confront the reality (old and new)
- Not trying to hold on, allowing to be mourning or grieve
- Help wounds to heal (own and those of the children)
- Not feel guilty or inadequate, no blaming
2. Getting on with the new
- Accepting and embracing the new situation and life in general
- Accommodate and understand
- Allow room for everyone, individually and collectively to deal with this in his/her own way
You should always remember that no two people are the same. We all recover at our own pace
HOW TO OVERCOME SINGLE PARENT’S CHALLENGES
You are also advancing and changing throughout this process, you will realize your kids will understand and see it, as will others.
This is another change you and everyone around you have to deal with as well.
You might also feel stressed, anxious, lonely, and angry or evoke these emotions in your child/family.
This is quite normal and natural behavior.
What happens to you when faced with these situations. Now let’s get to the more practical what do you do now or next in this situation?
- Seeing things from the child’s point of view
It is not only all about you either. Try and see things through the eyes of your child some time and a new world of understanding and possibilities will open for you.
- Settling in as an individual and a new family unit challenges
You should be opting to take a little less ‘negative’ approach to this.
Rather focus on the process and outcome than the complexities, factors, and obstacles some and all of us might specifically face.
Here are some examples:
- Trying to get everything done on time, being where you need to be, doing what you have to do, and staying sane through it all.
- Seeking financial assistance for food, accommodation, transportation, clothing, and provision of basic necessities of life.
- Daycare, babysitting, employment, support, and other family-related needs.
- Emotionally supporting your kids, while and despite your world crumbling before your eyes.
- Being and providing stability although you do not feel you can or have it in you.
- Coping with loss, changes, new roles, and responsibilities for the family.
Rewards: Life does go on and you can do it!
Together with your kids you can reclaim and build your life together.
All you need is to embrace your future with a positive attitude, hope, and a plan of action.
Have a renewed connection, deepened love, and caring relationship with your kids.
Your priority at hand is to set up your new family and their needs are taken care of.
- Where will you live?
- Where will you sleep?
- What will you eat? Do you have money for food and clothes?
- Where will the money come from to take care of and provide for your family?
- Do you have any help and support from family and friends?
- Do you need temporary assistance (housing, food, part-time job, babysitting, support, transportation, etc.)
- Can you work? DO you have a job, skills; do you need training, education, or a part-time job as well?
- What is the financial situation? (more on this a little later)
In a lot of cases single parenting ‘happens’. It is not planned or chosen (unless a pregnant teenager opts to keep the baby).
In most cases it is unexpected, tragic, and unfair, leaving you to respond, even when you feel your whole life has come to an end.
Yes, it is time for you to step up to the plate. Getting your family back on track as a whole is your top priority (this includes you).
Just remember, you do not have to cope or deal with this battle alone.
You can get love, care, and support all around you; take advantage of it and set yourself up for neither success nor failure.
Basic family commitments do have to come first now. Beware of the impulse to indulge in ‘denial and escapism’ clubbing, working out, or shopping until the ‘pain’ goes away.
There are FIVE keys identified to get you through this first ‘hurdle’ or phase if you will:
Try to strive for a balanced lifestyle – even amidst all this change, turmoil, personal changes, family life challenges, and demands.
Do not go overboard, do not stress and worry unnecessarily.
It is MORE important that you stay healthy, energized, happy, and be there for your family, than burned-out, tired, fatigued, and/or worse fall ill.
There will be MORE things to pay attention to than you will ever have time for.
- Accept that you will not get to do everything.
- Setting goals and targets, priorities, and putting things in a broader perspective are all ways you can deal with this pace, stress, and demands on your time and energies.
- Focus your energies on the things that make a difference and positive impact on your life and the life (and happiness!) of your family and loved ones!.
It is important to set limits and know your own limitations.
You are only human and no super-hero single parent.
It is perfectly all right to take a break once in a while and have some fun.
Coping with stress, keeping spending and expenses at bay, budgeting and planning your financials to a tee, and taking good care of yourself and your family on all levels (physically, emotionally, mentally, totally!).
Try not to cope alone all by yourself but take advantage and build social and support networks around, what you will need.
Always remember that you are the parent in the house and what that entails.
The burden and pleasure of this task will weigh on your shoulders and heart always.
Promise and commit to yourself that you will not overreact when faced with trying problems, setbacks, or crises.
Always stay level-headed and ask when you need help or assistance.
As a single parent, you have to cope with many aspects of raising, strengthening, and re-orchestrating your family, life, and future.
Each day you may feel tired, stressed, anxious, cranky, and over-extended, with priorities and commitments staring at you.
Anger, fear, exhaustion, all of these things that make you human will in all probability cross your path(s) on this trek.
Yah Know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Seek support and help, tap into the love and care around you!