Whether you’re a single parent as a result of divorce, death, never being married, or having a spouse that is always at work or traveling; all single parents face some common struggles. Parenting is a difficult job, even with two parents, so single parenting can be downright challenging. However, there are some ways to reduce the stress of single parenting and make the task less daunting.
- Get a handle on your finances! Finances are one of the greatest challenges for single parents. Learn how to budget your time and money. Ask for God’s help with your financial planning, He has unlimited resources. “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10) Consider taking one of the excellent financial management courses available. Some churches offer them at very nominal cost.
- Talk to your kids early and often about the special circumstances of your family. Leaving them in the dark about family issues may breed resentment when they discover the truth. Answer your kids’ questions honestly. Assure them of how much they are loved, and let them know that you are there to protect and provide for them.
- Find support and use it. Get help whenever you can. Most churches and communities have support groups for single parents, so take advantage of the resources God makes available to you. . . “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14) God provides help in many different ways. Thankfully accept help from family and friends when it is offered. There will be a time when you can reciprocate in some way.
- Take time for the family. Working, fixing meals, cleaning the house and paying the bills can be overwhelming. Set aside time each day to enjoy your children and develop your relationship with them. Building your relationship with your children is more important that having a spotless house. Be sure to make good use of your time with your kids. That time in the car ferrying them to school and activities may be just the right time to catch up when you have their undivided attention.
- Take time for yourself. Being a single parent doesn’t mean you don’t have an adult life. You need interaction with other adults to maintain a healthy perspective. Try to spend some time doing the things you love to do. Time is at a premium, but if you don’t take time for yourself you can become resentful and in the long run that won’t do you or your children any good.
- Keep a daily routine. Making rules, setting a good example and providing support is tough, but kids need structure. Schedule meals, chores and bedtime at regular times so that your child knows what to expect. A regular routine will help your child feel more secure and avoids the chaos and turmoil that can occur when everything is up for negotiation.
- Maintain consistent discipline. If others help in the care of your child, talk with them about your methods of discipline. Kids will test their limits and it’s important to have consistent boundaries for acceptable behavior. This is particularly true if there has been a divorce and you and your ex-spouse share custody. There needs to be some continuity between the two households. Otherwise, there will be a lot of contention and quarrels as the children test the varying boundaries that have been set up by each parent.
- Treat the kids like kids. Children have the right to enjoy childhood and mature at their own pace. Though single parenting can get lonely, resist the temptation to treat your children as a substitute for an adult partner. As much as possible, do not burden your children with your adult problems and frustrations. You need to get that type of support from somewhere else such as a good friend, pastor, or counselor.
- Stay positive. If you consistently verbalize doom and gloom, complain and vent, your kids will grow up with a distorted perception of reality. They are hanging on every word you say, so guard your tongue. In a divorce situation, do not run down and complain about the child’s other parent (even if it’s justified). You want your kids to feel loved and cared for by both of their parents, and to be able to love and respect both of you. God promised He’d take care of you. . . “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26) Get in the habit of counting your blessings. Make it a game with your kids to come up with new and different blessings to be thankful for every day.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat right and get enough rest. Not only is it a good example for your kids to follow, if you’re out of action due to illness, your kids are at risk. If you can’t cope, get help. Don’t wait until you’re out of control. Many churches and healthcare facilities have single parent help available.
God has a great plan for your life and the lives of your kids. Psalm 32:8 tell us – The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Open your heart to Him and He’ll help you stay on the right path.
Interested in some parenting resources? Click here for some good choices.
by Steve Arterburn