Single moms carry a double load
- 2001 16 Nov
It is good to remember that many women didn't choose to become single parents. Some of them are widows; quite a few were divorced by men seeking greener pastures. Whatever the case, single moms carry a double load.
Advice for single moms:
- Never try to be a dad. A mother should be a mother and if at all possible obtain male input for her children through grandfathers, uncles, or other male members of her family, if the children's father doesn't play an active role in their lives. If this won't work, try your church to see if there are men who would give your children some time. No one can play the part of both parents. You will be far more help to your children if you are yourself and you strive to be the best mother you can be under the circumstances.
- Make finding a good caregiver your top priority. Make a special effort not to impose on relatives, friends, or neighbors who are stay-at-home mothers. Even if it costs more in time or money, live by this motto: there is no free caregiving.
- Be a strong disciplinarian. A mother can do a great deal to help her children grow into mature adults if she refuses to let them get away with bad behavior as a child. It's easy to overlook wrong behavior because you are tired or lack a united front that two-parent families can give. But it is worth the effort.
- Don't be your child's best friend. Often in single-parent families the parent depends on the children too much - for advice, as a sounding board, and for conversation. Be a parent, not a friend. Maintain your position in the family as the adult.
- Avoid triangles. Don't become the go-between between one of your children and your former husband. Encourage both parties to talk to each other directly.
- Don't remarry too quickly. Experts recommend waiting at least four years before remarrying. There will be loneliness and other struggles of being alone. You don't have to go into hiding or hibernation. Create a social life for yourself - with singles and couples.
- Don't panic. Like the advice on the airplane, the adult should put on her oxygen mask first - then the child's. Take care of your own emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Make a commitment to start attacking life.
From The 6 Stress Points in a Woman's Life by Dr. Kevin Leman. Used by permission of Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. Copyright (c) 1987 by Dr. Kevin Leman, second printing, March 1999. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company.
Dr. Kevin Leman is a psychologist, humorist, author, radio and TV personality, and speaker. He is the author of The New Birth Order Book, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, and Becoming the Parent God Wants You to Be. He is also founder and president of Couples of Promise and host of the syndicated television program Realfamilies.