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How to Manage Single Parenting Positively

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How to Manage Single Parenting Positively

In 2013, single moms ran 25% of homes in the United States.[1] Another 6% of the families, meanwhile, only had single fathers. Of course, this number has continued to rise since then. Even though single parenting is becoming increasingly more common, it doesn’t mean that it is getting any easier.

If you have been a single parent for a while, then you know how true it is. If you have recently become a single parent, you are likely just learning about the challenges and how to balance life, work, and family while trying to be a good mom or dad.

Nevertheless, do not despair — there is still hope. Single parenting can be done, and your child can grow up to be happy and prosperous.

How Single Parenting Affects a Child

It was once highly stigmatized to be the child of a single parent. The terms “illegitimate” and “broken home” were often attached to them. With the increase of single-parent homes, though, the situation has become more normal than ever.

The Positive

There is often a robust parent-and-child bond in single-parent homes because it is usually just the two of them against the world.

Another positive thing is that children in single-parent homes become more responsible and mature compared to their peers from dual-parent families. After all, they get household chores out of necessity to help their mom or dad.

The Negative

The adverse effects of coming from a single-parent household are consistent across different studies.

One research explains that children from such homes are more likely to have emotional struggles, drop out of school, and avoid pursuing higher education.[2]

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Still, it doesn’t mean that all children from single parents fall into this position. It truly dependents on the overall support that they have gotten from loved ones. Hence, single moms and dads need to set up a support system for themselves and their kids so that extended family and friends can offer help as needed.

Another study found that family relationships were the best predictor of a child’s success in academia and other endeavors.[3] It’s true because the parent-child relationship is very important.

Kids need to be in a loving, caring, and nurturing environment that boosts their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. That’s easy to achieve, whether one or both parents are present. (Try this helpful article: 11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother)

A Single Parent’s Role in the Family

Someone becomes a single parent happens because of a variety of reasons, with divorce, separation, and death on top of the list. Their life is not easy since they need to be an income earner, household manager, disciplinarian, parent, tutor, maid, chauffeur, and loving parent all at once.

Wearing many hats is not a cakewalk for anyone. Playing many life roles while also caring for one or more children takes courage, effort, and commitment. (Assuming you need help in that department, check this out: 13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy))

Often, people don’t choose to raise kids on their own — it’s more of a result of an unfortunate situation. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, though. It merely entails that if you have recently become a single parent, you can set up your life for success in this situation by doing some planning.

How To Survive Single Parenting

1. Have Realistic Expectations

If you set the bar too high, you are bound to be disappointed. Set your expectations realistically when it comes to single parenting.

For example, if you are working two jobs to make ends meet, then being able to attend every soccer game and practice of your child may not be realistic. You may have to ask a friend or family member to get them to and from sports events.

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You will be there when you can and when your work schedule allows, but knowing that it won’t always work out as expected helps you to be practical in life. Nonetheless, you need to discuss realistic expectations with your child, so they understand why you can’t always be there for them, even when you want to be.

2. Do Your Best

Every parent needs to let go of their pursuit of perfection. This is especially true when you have more on your plate than moms or dads in dual-parent homes. You can’t do it all correctly. You need to let some things go and do your best in different situations.

Decisions should be made to help make your life more streamlined with your top priorities. For instance, you may have to skip making home-made lunches for your child and give them lunch money instead because it gives you one less thing to do in the mornings.

Try to be flexible. You are only one human being, after all. Just do your best to focus on your kids more than anything else.

They don’t need the best clothes or most fabulous toys that money can buy when they know they have you.

3. Stay Guilt-Free

Most parents tend to feel guilty when it comes to the children, regardless of the situation.

Well, you need to ease up and let go of that guilt because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Something has to give, especially when you are the only one raising your kids.

Don’t get sucked into feeling guilty because you can’t do everything on your own. Yes, you may miss some games. Yes, your child cannot have whatever they want all the time. But this is life, and it is not always fair. Although it is sad, it is not the end of the world.

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If your child had a choice, they will choose their parent over any video game or material item any day of the week. Hence, you should not entertain guilt feelings anymore. Stay focused on the importance of your relationship and the fact that you are trying your mightiest to be a great parent and provider.

4. Have a Positive Attitude

Our children feed off of our emotions. The number one role model for a child is their parent. Therefore, parents must be conscious of their attitude and approach toward life.

Life will get complicated, and there will be bumps along the way. An old saying goes like this: “Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% our reaction.”

Say, you find out that your bonus from work is not what you expected it to be. You will have to alter your vacation plans because of that and break the news to your kid. One positive way to react to the situation is by saying, “That’s okay! At least we still get to go on vacation somewhere that’s on our bucket list. Perhaps we can visit the other place next year.”

If we choose to react to challenges positively, we are a good role model for our child. Keep the attitude positive so that your child can emulate your attitude.

Try these 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude.

5. Develop a Support System

As mentioned above, single parents can ask for assistance from extended family, friends, church, community, and other people on the same boat. Some organizations like Single & Parenting helps provide support and information to single parents, for instance.[4] If you visit their website, you can enter your location to find a support group near you.

6. Keep a Schedule

Children perform best when they are following a schedule. When lives become uncertain or unpredictable, it can be scary for kids and possibly cause anxiety.

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To best help our children, we should strive to offer structure by creating a daily routine that gives them security and predictability. Something as simple as setting up wake-up time and bedtime can improve their sleep patterns. Other helpful practices include sitting down together for dinner every night and scheduling hours for homework and studies after school.

7. Take Care of Yourself

Self-care

is essential for parents, single or not. However, single parents often forget me-time because they have too much to do in life. What they don’t realize is that prioritizing yourself regularly can make you feel refreshed.

The self-care methods you pick can only be activities that feed the mind, soul, and body positively. Say, you can get some exercise during the week and attend religious services.

By taking care of yourself, you can provide the best care for your child, too.

Final Thoughts

If you have recently become a single parent, then life is changing for both you and your child(ren).

Don’t allow the situation to make you lose sight of the critical things in your life. Maintain a fantastic attitude and focus on your new life with your child. Let go of your “what if’s” and ideological views of what your life is supposed to look like.

What matters right now is that you are with them. Love your child and do the best moving forward.

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More Thoughts on Becoming a Single Parent

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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