Single Parenting 101: Some Unsolicited Advice

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You will sometimes feel very alone

  • You are not. Being single means you must take action on your own behalf to remind yourself of this. Call a friend. Call a family member. Read about other single parents. Talk to other single parents. Write a letter to someone. Go to the park.

single-parent2You will sometimes feel overwhelmed

  • Being a single parent is overwhelming. The only thing you can control is how you react to your feelings of overwhelm. Learn to meditate, take an anger management class, read up on calming techniques. You can do it. This too shall pass.

You may sometimes feel you have made a quantum error in judgment

  • Trust your choices. Admit to your mistakes. Learn the value of providing a genuine apology. Learn to change. "The past cannot be changed but the future is whatever you want it to be."

You must take responsibility for your behaviour

  • Your children's/ex-spouses poor behaviour is no excuse for your poor behaviour.

You chose to parent, single or not

  • Honour that choice. Remember you made that choice when you're feeling victimized by your kids. (i.e. "I never get to go out anymore!" "I haven't bought a new ____ for myself in so long – all the money I have goes to the kids." etc.)

What you give will be returned to you

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated; this includes your kids.

Your kids are far more capable than you expect

  • They can help keep the house clean. They can cook. They might even become a friend. They are not however capable of being your partner, your therapist, your other kid's parent or your primary support system. Get outside help as needed.

Recognize the value of community

  • School. Co-op housing. Roommates. Parent's groups. Having other adults (especially other parents) to bounce ideas off of or ask questions of is amazingly helpful. Also, if a trusted friend/family member offers you childcare – accept it. Let them have their own relationship with your kid – your kid needs that too.

Diversify! You cannot expect to meet all your kid's needs on your own

  • Create time for your kids to see and interact with people who are different than you. Kids, adults, teens, old folks, couples, rich, poor, tall, short, queer, straight, family, friends – whatever! – trust your instincts about who is safe and get out there. You never know who or what will tickle your kids' fancy.

Create family traditions

  • Holiday meals. Birthday presents. Weekend outings. Do everything you can to have vacations with your kids sometimes. Take pictures. Find a favorite cheap restaurant (you're going to need someone else to cook and do the dishes sometimes!). Plant something every year and watch it grow.


It is crucial to enforce rules about bedtimes and curfews and chores

  • Structure, organization and some basic rules of living are vital to a one parent family. Not providing these things is actually a disservice to your kids and yourself. Stand up for what you know works for you.

Teach you children about taking care of others by actually taking care of them. Teach your children about self-care by actually taking care of yourself

  • No matter how little time and/or money it seems you have, find a way to have time alone as an adult, not just a parent. I dare say 30 minutes a day is not too much to ask or find. Really. Eat a meal uninterrupted. Read a magazine from cover to cover. Go out alone or with friends once a week, or once a month at least. Keep up your passions outside of being a parent. Buy yourself flowers.

Read to, and in front of your kids

  • This has provided many topics of conversation and hours of quiet togetherness for my daughter and me.

Learn to cook

  • Find healthful meals to make in less than 30 minutes. Expand your parameters. Try stuff from cookbooks or that you see on TV. Ask your friends for the recipes of food they make that you and your kids love. Get the kids involved in the cooking – this is a crucial life skill. And never say no to an invitation to dinner!

You have the expert knowledge of your child

  • Believe what you know about your kids, not just what their teachers, coaches or friends tell you. Be the one who stands up for them. Never give them away at hide-and-go-seek. Listen to your kids so you can learn more about them all the time. Learning to genuinely listen to your kids = having a relationship with them as adults too.


Editors: TJ Dawe, Chris Dierkes

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  • Comment Link mary jane mckelvey Monday, 08 October 2012 22:36 posted by mary jane mckelvey

    Sooo sensible-- especially the parts about being an autonomous person--parents need that, kids benefit from having a person around who is not 24 hour Mom or Dad.
    Thank you Elizabeth, from MJ

  • Comment Link Rev.Marcelle Saturday, 03 November 2012 22:19 posted by Rev.Marcelle

    Thank you for reminding me to make time for myself & ask for help...during the past week my son & I were with each other 24/7 given Hurricane Sandy & I was needing some alone time & not asking for help..til today :)

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