You may be a single parent by choice or simply have found yourself in this role, the bottom line is that single parenting can work and solo parents are able to rise up to the challenges faced. A century ago, a woman who had a child out of wedlock was scorned and ridiculed and both the child and mother bore the brunt of society’s non acceptance of single parenting. Fortunately, today people’s views and mindsets have changed radically and independent individuals are often opting to do it alone and play the role of both mother and father. There are cases where a relationship sours shortly before or after the birth of the baby and the couple makes a mutual decision to go their separate ways while continuing to care for the baby as a -separated couple’.
A lot of headstrong solo moms and dads do not want to admit that they need help, however this is detrimental to both child and the parent. Creating a support system is vital for the single parent and the support may come from friends, colleagues or family members. Grandparents or extended family members are usually keen to lend a helping hand, however, well-meaning friends are just as eager to step in and babysit, or lend a sympathetic ear to the common fears and concerns of the parent. There are also a number of established support groups in South Africa and not only will these prove to be extremely useful as they offering worthwhile information and advice, but these groups will bring together people who are in similar situations and who understand the fears, concerns, hopes and needs of the single parent.
The inability to make it through the month on a single salary is one of the biggest demands that are placed on a single parent. Childcare costs can be crippling for double-income earners and for a single-income earner the costs can very well be debilitating.
Owing to the lack of money, single parents need to look for creative ways to save cash. Rather than spending money going out, get together with friends and arrange a dinner party, join a book club, hire DVDs rather than going to movies. Instead of going out for coffee, meet at a friend’s home or arrange a breakfast at home, rather than splashing out on a restaurant breakfast.
Look for ways to make extra cash, such as house sitting. House sitting is a fun way to earn money and as they say -a change is as good as a holiday enjoy the new surrounds with your child or children and earn extra cash while doing it. Teach children from a young age to appreciate the value of a Rand. Children (whether they have one or two children) need to be taught the value of money and with many solo parents cash strapped, giving into the kid’s demands will lead to a lot more financial stresses and woes.
Dual income earners are fortunate that they can rely on each other’s income to survive but with solo parents they need to bring in the bacon and cook it! Luckily single parents can find careers that are flexible enough to allow them to tend to the needs of the family, and earn a living. Working from home is also become a popular choice and in these cases, parents can care for their children at home (saving on day care costs), and a make a living.
Many single parents try to over compensate for the absence of a parent and they often spoil the child. Discipline is important in all families – and this includes for children of a single parent home. Parents should not attempt to buy their children’s love, but they should earn it and they can do this by setting clear boundaries for their child and giving them an abundance of love and attention.
Parenting solo has tremendous demands and making time for -me is vital – if this is not done, single parents will suffer from burn-out. To stay healthy and to remain focused, parents must schedule some alone time. The time could be a weekend away with friends, or an afternoon shopping!
Dating is always a heated debate among single parents. There is no reason why single parents should not date and there is no reason for them to feel that they are neglecting their children or their responsibilities if they enjoy a few hours out with a partner. Solo parents should be encouraged to meet new people, broaden their horizons and enjoy the chance to indulge in adult conversation and company. It may be unwise to bring every -new love prospect’ home for the kids to meet, but thanks to the vast number of Internet dating websites, interested parties can meet people online and meet only when they feel ready to!
Life as a single parent can be as rewarding as it is challenging and by learning to cope with the demands, both parent and child can thrive.