This blog was going to be titled ‘how I survived single parenting’. There were times when all I could aim for was surviving till the end of the day with all of us intact, but we did more than survive as a family. Overall we have flourished.
I started single parenting when my kids were preschoolers; they are now young adults pursuing their own dreams. We are still close as a family even though we don’t live in the same state in Australia. There were times when I despaired of this close bond ever happening.
My seven keys to flourishing as a single parent
Here are my seven keys to not only survive, but to flourish as a single parent:
- Have a support network
- Practice self-care
- Practice forgiveness – especially self-forgiveness when you get it wrong
- Adjust to the season
- Be a resilient role model
- Ensure your kids feel your love
- Be a family
I learned these the hard way by practising the opposite, copping the consequences and looking for a better way. That’s why I wrote ‘One Together’ and minister to other single parents to help them on their journey.
It takes intentionality to flourish as a single parent; it doesn’t just happen. I will provide resources to help you do this through information on the website, blogs, eBooks and the One T workshop. What worked for me may not work for you as your situation will be different, but from experience supporting others, these keys can be useful starting places to develop your skills as a single parent and flourish as a family.
Have a support network
To flourish as a family, it cannot all depend on you. You will need community to provide the role models you cannot be and you will need support to survive the tough times. See Why every single parent shouldn’t parent alone
Self-care includes – caring for yourself as a whole person in all areas of your health, and balancing caring for yourself with caring for your children. By caring for yourself you show your children how to value themselves by looking after their health. See self-care as a single parent, 7 ways to improve your health as a single parent and 10 strategies to practice balance as a single parent
Forgiveness is essential to parenting well. You need to practice forgiveness of others as part of being a role model. You need to forgive yourself for the times you are not the perfect parent! See forgiveness
Adjust to the season
You will require different support throughout your journey as a single parent and need to adjust your parenting skills. Each season has its own challenges; toddlers are different from teenagers! I am experiencing a glimpse of my next season – the empty nest. I’ll reflect on that in a blog soon.
Be a role model
Parents are considered the foremost role models for their children, even with the increasing effects of peer pressure in teenage years. If you are a single parent then you are ‘the’ role model – no pressure! See Role Modelling and Your children are watching you. What are they seeing? Six questions to assess your role modelling.
Ensure your kids feel your love
All humans are born with an innate need to be loved; a hunger for love. To explain the notion of love hunger, psychologists illustrate it with the concept of love tanks. Love tanks are a symbolic representation of our need for love – Dr’s Hemfelt, Minrith and Meier, all eminent psychologists or psychiatrists, in their book Love is a Choice, pictorially show love tanks as heart shaped which makes sense as we associate the heart with love. Who hasn’t inscribed the initials of their latest crush inside a love heart.
Every child is unique in the way they relate to the world. As a parent you need to know and understand this about each child to ensure they feel your love. Sometimes whilst you think you are giving love, they are not receiving it. To fill their love tanks with unconditional love, you need to do your homework to find out how best to reach them. This means detecting how you best convey your love and how they best receive it. More on this in later blogs, for now check out the resources below.
Be a family
You are a family – it may not be the average mum, dad and 2.3 kids, but you ARE a family. It can take some persistent changing of your mindset to engage with this mental picture. Encourage your children to embrace it also. It is important to see yourself like that and not be paranoid about what others think of you. See Being a family
Putting legs on it
Choose one of these keys to focus on in the next month, adapting your parenting to the key. See if there is a change in you and your family.
Need encouragement as a single parent? Click below (contains Christian content)
Keeping the love tank full by Gary Chapman
Five languages of love – love tank by busykidshappymom.org
How to love your child? Inspired by Ross Campbell by motherhow.com
Hemfelt, R., Minirth,F . and Meier, P. (1989) Love is a choice. Thomas Nelson Inc, U.S.A.
Campbell, R. (1992) How to Really Love Your Child. SP Publications, U.S.A.
Chapman, G. and Campbell, R. (1997) The Five Love Languages of Children, Northfield Publishing, U.S.A.
Photo Credit: Krystina Rogers www.unsplash.com