5 Tips to Successful Single Parenting

Single parenting has ups and downs just like any other position in life, but what are the tips to feeling successful?  I've given five and if you think of more, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Stop comparing yourself and stop focusing on the happy couples around you.  It's easy to get caught up in the feeling that everything would be easier if you just had a mate to share the chores, emotions and life's ups and downs as a parent. The reality is that there is not a perfect situation that will alleviate your feelings.  Even married couples encounter issues with raising their household, so keep it all in perspective.  Wishful thinking could lead to unhappiness and bitterness which you do not have time or capacity for.

Be kind to yourself.  You work hard and have a lot on your plate.  Be sure to take time to pamper yourself or just simply spend time doing something that you enjoy.  Beware of negative self-talk and create positive experiences you can enjoy.

Be part of a community. A strong community is vital to the success of your single parenting.  The support and sense of belonging that will come with a great community is the solution to the isolation that can be associated with single parenting.   Join a church, find a playgroup or join a bible study in your area. There are a lot of community boards with groups that meet for various reasons throughout the week.  See what groups may interest you and take a leap of faith by visiting.  You'll find that you are not alone in a big world full of single parents just like you.

Join forces with another single parent.  Having a friend who is also living the life of a single parent helps two people at the same time! Switch off caring for the kids so you both have a much needed break.  If possible have varying work schedules so that you can both take on the role of "daycare" and eliminate expense.  Some employers will let you job share, which means that two people share one job and switch off scheduling to allow for greater coverage at home and at work.  Having someone to lean on is mental lifesaver! Be sure that the leaning goes both ways.

Accept help.  Be careful not to let pride get in the way of accepting help. It's a common feeling to want to be "supermom" or "superdad" and do everything on your own but you will inevitably suffer from over-exhaustion.  This affects, not only you but your kids.  If people ask to have your family over for dinner, go.  If someone you trust offers to watch your kids to give you a break, let them.  Little helps can mean big differences in your life and in the way you engage your children as a parent.  God gave us other people for a reason.  Let them love on you and in due time you will be enabled to love on someone else who is in need of a blessing.

"The parent-child relationship is the first and most important social interaction a youngster will have, and the flaws and knots experienced there can often be seen later in life."
- Dr. James Dobson

"Be sure to take inventory on your behavior to make sure you are being the parent that you really want to be."
- Meg Meeker, MD

Stop Feeling Guilty

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
Psalm 38:4

It doesn't matter how you came to your journey as a single parent, most of us will feel guilt at some point during our child rearing days.  Despite my own story being racked with guilty feelings, I read some really deep stories online that had me curious as to why we allow ourselves to feel this terrible feeling.

One post I read started like this, "How can I stop feeling guilty about being a single mom?" Well, that would all depend on why this person feels guilty.  Why is being a single mom causing her to feel guilt?  We'll never understand her situation personally, but this question swam around in my head for awhile as I thought about the feeling of guilt that surely we all know, some greater than others.

Truth be told that despite our journey, even if it is glamorous and without much pain, there is always that little knowledge that is tucked away (sometimes deeply) where we know how the ideal family is supposed to look and act.  God's plan for one woman and one man to raise their children.  Single parenting although seldom glamorous and seldom without pain, is by far one of the most emotional rattling experiences out there.  You are encouraged most days and maybe you have this single parenting thing down pat, but then other days you acknowledge that you can't 100% fulfill your kids by yourself.  Where is the happy medium?  When do you fully experience single parenting without guilt?

Honestly... you probably never will. 

Uplifting huh? Well, truth be told ALL parents experience guilt and it resides on various levels.  You are up because of great kids and a great day, then you are down because of a comment or bad behavior.  Guilt over the right decisions turning out to be wrong decisions and lets not forget the sudden loss of temper that brings you right to Guilt's doorstep! Single parenting has it's own guilt-ridden emotions but so does double-parenting, as I like to call it.  It is hard to run from this feeling in any parenting situation.  I think it's really important for single parents to remember the key fact that although single parenting guilt may look differently and have different factors than double-parenting guilt, it is still guilt experienced by both situations. 

So how do you lessen the guilt in your life? Try turning your eyes to what you are doing right and how you can positively improve the things that are causing your guilt. An example that quickly came to mind is that I experience guilt when my son sits down to watch a movie of his with me and I end up falling asleep out of exhaustion.  I feel guilty that I missed out on time with him, but did he impose that feeling on me? Not at all, but if I wanted to make sure of how that made him feel I could ask him and explain my tiredness.  This can help both of us understand intentions and hopefully alleviate the guilt I feel when this accidentally happens.  I'm not any less of a mom for falling asleep as I am when I do the other numerous things for and with him.  How I can help prevent falling asleep in the future would be to watch the movie on a Saturday morning versus a Friday night so that I'm wide awake and ready to enjoy the time together.

Remember that if you are doing everything to your capability and within your means for your child's benefit, there is nothing to feel guilty about.  We all make mistakes and it's okay to know and admit that.  Forgive yourself for the reasons you are a single parent.  Forgive yourself for the impossible situation that you find yourself in.  Most of all, forgive yourself for sometimes feeling like you've failed your kids.  You haven't.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance 
that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience 
and having our bodies washed with pure water.
 Hebrews 10:22