Photo by Jamie Street
As a single parent, you are inundated with endless to-do lists, schedules to manage and roles to play that were quite possibly not part of your initial plan when you first had your children. And it is easy to wonder how to be a single parent, a good single parent, when almost all advice on the Internet or in books is focused on a two-parent family.
While some people are able to adjust well to this way of life, some struggle with the identity of being a single parent in a world that can feel like it caters to couples on a regular basis. Some feel internal pressure to find another partner while others are constantly encouraged to “get out there” and date, even when they know deep down they aren’t ready or interested.
I’ve asked a lot of my friends in the past who seem to have adjusted “easily” to the life of a single parent how they’ve managed the transition and most of the time, they smile, shake their heads and admit that they don’t really know. They’ve just done it. I’ve also heard on several occasions that they are glad to hear that they look comfortable in their new role because that certainly isn’t how they feel.
So is this just one of those things that people will have to grin and bear with little upside? Not necessarily. In a scenario as complicated as this one, it’s a good idea to get back to basics:
Embrace where you are. The more you fight it, the more uncomfortable you’ll be with your role and mindset.
Keep your priorities straight. There’s a reason you’re doing what you’re doing. Just make sure it’s the right reason.
Take advice with a grain of salt. Do what works for you and your child. So what if it didn’t come out of a parenting advice column? If it works and everyone is happy and healthy, good job. Keep going.
Don’t attend every fight you’re invited to. For reasons that are beyond me, many people don’t know how to keep their opinions to themselves. If you’re dating, not dating, have no interest in dating ever again… that’s your business. When others give you grief, just smile and thank them for being concerned. Then do your own thing.
Let your kids make you smile. Embrace levity. Have some fun. Kick back and have a good time.
Take care of you. Need a night off to read a good book? A day to go shopping with your girlfriend? Want to put the kids to bed early so you can have an extra hour of quiet time? Do it. Without guilt.
Love the fact that you’re human. You don’t need to make every decision perfectly to be a good parent. Thank goodness, or else we’d all be in trouble.
Regardless of where you are in the spectrum of parenthood, you’re probably where you should be. And that can be a relief if you think about it. Let that wash over you for a second and catch your breath, ok?