Help for single parents is a necessity in today’s society. In 2000, the US Census Bureau of Household and Family Statistics reported that single parents accounted for 27% of family households with children under 18-years of age. And one out of two children will live in a single parent family at some point during their childhood.
It is noteworthy, therefore, to address the unique family and social needs of divorced and single parents.
Quality Family Time
The daily routine in most broken family households can be hectic. The majority of single parents work outside the home.
Aside from the need to re-establish some sort of normal daily routine to help children regain their footing, a child’s social needs and quality family time are also important.
Because one parent now must strive to fill a two parent role at least during weekdays, spare time is precious. Creative ways to enjoy family fun and quality time together are a must.
Having children help with Saturday chores and errands, for instance, can be fun. It can also provide opportunity for positive reinforcement of family unity and working together to accomplish tasks.
The sweet reward of a family picnic, watching a family movie while eating pizza, or another type of family fun is the perfect topper.
Helping the Insecure Child
Split households often affect children negatively; at least in the beginning. One good way to help an insecure child better adjust to the new family structure is to allow them to talk about their feelings.
Getting up early Sunday morning, for instance, and having breakfast together at the table provides an excellent opportunity for family talks. Turn the telephone off to reduce the risk of interruptions; omit television and other distractions. Each family member in turn should be encouraged to share what is on their mind.
Sprinkling praise with correction can help increase a child’s self-esteem, which will help them feel less insecure; mix 2 parts praise with 1 part correction. For instance, (praise) “I really like the way you’ve been keeping your room picked up,” (correction) “Could you please try to keep your coat and boots in the closet where they belong,” (praise) “Thank you, I really appreciate your help.”
Single Parent Social Needs
Despite the fact you have your child’s emotional and social needs to take into consideration, you also have your own. Juggling job and family without the help of a spouse can be taxing. By reserving time for yourself each week you reduce the risk of “burn out.”
You also benefit your children by being happier and less stressed.
The tips below can help:
1. Accept the fact that there will be times when things are less-than-perfect. As a single parent you cannot “do it all,” no matter how hard you try.
2. Don’t feel guilty about seeking to fulfill your social needs. It is healthy for you and your children to enjoy alone time, and cultivate friendships outside the family.
3. Allow time for yourself each week; treat yourself to a movie with friends, go out on a date, have your nails done, or enjoy a bubble bath.
4. Benefit from contact with others who understand the challenges of being a single parent first hand. Join a local single parents group; or an online resource that connects single parents, for friendship or dating purposes.
Lastly, single parent dating calls for wisdom. Go slow; avoid persons who would make a poor role model for your children. Avoid introducing a date to your children prematurely. Allow yourself adequate time to get to know the person first.
Respect and honor yourself as a single parent. And above all else, respect your children’s feelings; help them to always feel they are an important part of your life.