Mothers and fathers coming out of a divorce or separation are still dealing with the emotional effects of one of the most wrenching and emotionally exacting experiences of their lives. They’re trying to come to terms with an extremely disorienting situation at the same time they’re trying to comfort and reassure traumatized children. The healing process may take quite a while, and it complicates an already difficult role for the parent. Along the way, single moms and dads have to deal with hectic weekly routines, a new set of financial responsibilities, keeping pace with demands at work … and they have to do it all by themselves. It’s a situation that could overwhelm anyone.
A new reality
Single parenthood is a stark new reality for people who are accustomed to having a partner to rely on when things get tough. Figuring out how to do it on your own is a difficult adjustment, particularly if your children are young. If you’re having an “off day” as a parent, you can’t just hand things over to someone else. You have to develop coping skills and learn how to take a deep breath when the kids get out of control or if you’ve had an awful day at work. It’s especially important to develop those skills if you don’t have a friend or family member who can provide support.
Now that you’re a single parent, you’re making all the decisions for your family. If your ex-spouse or partner was the primary decision-maker, you may need to find the self-confidence to make important decisions that directly impact you financially and affect your children’s wellbeing. It can be a liberating and self-empowering moment for many single parents, who no longer have to compromise or negotiate with a spouse they don’t get along with and with whom they have fundamental disagreements about raising a family. Many single parents find that co-workers, friends, teachers and others with a connection to their family can be helpful when it comes to advice and sharing experiences. Remember, decision-making is an important skill, one you want your children to develop, so seeking advice and outside help in making good decisions is well worth the time and effort.
As the head of your family, you can do yourself and your children a major favor by organizing everyone’s weekly schedules. It’ll help you get a handle on your new life and make things easier when it comes to work, school, homework, the kids’ extracurricular activities, and more. Organize each day as much as possible so you and your children aren’t scrambling every morning. It can help your kids’ performance at school and may even give you a little extra time to exercise, meditate, or sneak in a little extra sleep. Children respond better to well-organized plans because it provides a sense of reliability and normalcy, which they may need badly in the wake of a divorce.
Some of the most successful single parents know when to ask for help, whether from someone who’s close to the family or from a support group with individuals who have been through the same situation. Spending a little time on the internet looking for local support groups may pay off handsomely for an overwrought single mom or dad. Sometimes, just having someone to share your frustrations with can make a tremendous difference.
Try seeing your new situation as an opportunity to strengthen relationships between you and your kids. Spend some time together playing educational games and interacting in ways that everyone can enjoy and learn from. It’ll bring you closer together as a family and forge a strong emotional bond that benefits everyone.
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