I have parented with a partner and without. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. As a single parent, you make all the decisions and don't have to negotiate with someone else when you disagree on techniques. However, it is very difficult to raise a child on your own. It really does take a village to raise a child. One of the big advantages to my single parenting is that, having already raised two children with a partner, I understood the need for support. I quickly found a community and enlisted the help of those community members through trades for babysitting, shared dinners and more. I was always happy to have another child around for mine to play with. It made my life easier and made him happier. When I was 50, I was already raising a teenager and then started raising my granddaughter. I realized that I needed younger people with more energy to take her sometimes, and they did. She was so much of a community child, when I had to go to Europe for work, she happily went from family to family for the 2-weeks I was away. She was 5 and missed me, but these people were part of her extended family, and she felt safe and secure with them.
One of the hardest things about single parenting is the lack of time away from your child. When you have a partner, you can leave them with the other parent. When there is not another parent available, you may feel guilty about abandoning them or guilty about overburdening another family. I had to get over that and remind myself that I loved having other children around, so why wouldn't someone else feel the same? And, I always reciprocated. It isn't only single parents who don't go out enough, couples often don't have enough time together away from their children. Trading babysitting is a wonderful thing for everyone. It's good for our children to experience other routines. It promotes diversity and encourages flexibility.
Another struggle for me was feeling overburdened by work and household duties. I wondered if my child was suffering from not having enough of my attention. I had to make the difficult decision to not worry as much about the condition of my house. Maybe the floor didn't get cleaned often enough or dishes always done on time, but it was worth it to have the time to play with my child. They are only young for a short time, and eventually, they start seeking out other people for stimulation. It's important to take time with them while they are interested. I didn't want to have regrets later on, so my chores had to wait. However, it was equally important for me to make sure that my child knew when I needed alone time. As single parents, we should be modeling self-respect and self-care. I didn't want my children to sacrifice themselves as adults because that's what I taught them. Children need to see us having fun and living a full life without the burden of guilt. They want us to be happy.
One potential issue that goes along with being a single parent is the issue of dating. That one is tricky and needs its own post. Meanwhile, I can say that it's part of caring for ourselves, and we do want to model good adult relationships, too. Our children learn to love and be partners by watching us. Adding another person into the mix is definitely possible and is a process. I will write more on that next week.
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