You might not often think of being a single parent family as a bonus for your kids. There have been many sacrifices along the way, and plenty of times when you wished things were different. However, there are some positive effects of single parenting that you should bear in mind as you raise your children:
#1: Developing Strong BondsSpending quality one-on-one time with your kids allows you to develop a unique bond that may actually be stronger than it would have been if you were not a single parent. Certainly this is true for many custodial parents, but it's also true for a number of non-custodial parents who have the opportunity to play a unique role in their kids' lives.
- Never diminish the importance of your role.
- Realize if your bond isn't where you want it to be today, you can work to strengthen it.
- Your connection with your children won't end when they turn 18; the bond will continue to evolve into your children's adult years.
#2: Experiencing CommunityWe're all familiar with the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child." Well, children raised in single parent families are often raised by a village of supporters. In many cases, members of the extended family will step up and play a significant role in the children's lives. Those single parents who don't live near family may choose to participate in community groups - including single parent support groups, churches, and synagogues - which champion the entire family.
- Join a single parent support group.
- Seek out civic groups that will help you plug in to your local community.
- Get involved in your child's school.
#3: Shared ResponsibilitiesChildren raised in single parent families don't just have "token" chores to do in order to earn an allowance. Instead, their contribution to the entire family system is necessary. The authentic need for their assistance helps the children recognize the value of their contribution and develop pride in their own work.
- Praise your kids for helping out around the home.
- Let them know you recognize their efforts.
- Expect them to contribute and be specific when asking them to help out.
#4: Handling Conflict and DisappointmentChildren in single parent families witness conflict mediation skills in action. They get to see their parents working hard - despite their differences - to collaborate and work together effectively. In addition, the children are forced to deal with their own disappointments early in life.
- Respond with your kids' disappointment with support, encouragement, and empathy.
- View these experiences as valuable growth opportunities, helping them become sensitive, empathetic, caring adults.
- You can't always prevent your children from feeling sad or disappointed, but you can help them to express and cope with their emotions.
#5: Seeing Real-Life, Balanced PrioritiesChildren who are raised in successful single parent families know that they are the main priority in their parents' lives, yet they are not treated as though they are the center of everyone's universe. This healthy approach helps to prepare kids for the "real world."
- Help your children balance their own needs/wants with the needs of the entire family unit.
- Realize that it's okay for you as the parent to pursue needs of your own, such as the need for alone time or adult conversation.
- Teach your kids to express their needs while also considering the needs of others.