Single parents often face difficult challenges as they adapt to their new responsibilities and circumstances. When the children have problems, the single parent may feel overwhelmed. Isolation can bring about a loss of perspective since there is no one else to offer support or new ideas for coping. Even when single parents begin to make new friends and set new goals, the stress remains because they may feel torn between their own needs and the needs of their children. Here are some suggestions for coping:
Talk to Someone
Seek out counseling through your Employee Assistance Program, or join a support group if you are having a difficult time. Make contact with other single parents from your neighborhood or church group. It’s important to discuss your situation with others who have been through the same experience.
Control Emotional Responses to your Children
Avoid physical punishment. Instead, decide ahead of time what discipline should follow what misbehavior and apply logical consequences or withdrawal of privileges. If you have a plan, you will be more consistent and self-confident, and you will be less likely to lash out at your children.
Anticipate Your Responses to Upsetting Situations
Plan ahead for what you will do and say if, for example, the absent parent disrupts your plans or disappoints the children. Don’t involve the children in angry scenes and don’t force the children to take sides. When you are angry or frustrated, breathe deeply and think before speaking. Go into another room, call a friend, read a magazine to remove yourself from the stressful circumstances. Wait until you are in control of yourself before you try to take control of the situation.
Find a New Interest or Rediscover an Old One
Sometimes single parents forget hobbies and activities that once gave them pleasure. It will provide something that makes you feel good. It might be jogging, reading, art or doing a more complex project . . . anything that you can do to relax.
Get Out of the House Occasionally
Make provisions to go to your support group, to visit friends or make new ones or to take part in community affairs. Trade off child care with another single parent. You need to have some time for yourself and contact with people of your own age.
Remember, You Can Do It!
You can cope with the stress of single parenthood! Millions of other single parents have done it. They have raised happy, healthy, responsible children and they are enjoying happy and fulfilled lives.