Saturday, 12 September 2009

Being a Single Parent part 4: The positive side of raising children on your own

I imagine this post title may have come as a surprise to some of you - how on earth can there be any plus sides to being a single parent?  What about the financial struggles, the fatigue, the loneliness....well, yes they are still there, but it's not all bad. Very little is said about the advantages of being a single parent, but believe me they do exist.  I've mentioned the good points of single parenthood before, but I'd like to add to those.

  • When you're the only adult in the house, you make the rules.  Your word is law.  Well, that's the theory anyway.  Of course, as your darling offspring approach adolescence they will challenge your rules and try to introduce their own.  I have always been fairly strict with my girls having routines - for example bedtime, bathtime and mealtimes - it's a survival method so that everyone knows where and what they should be doing.  They also can't play one parent off against another "But Daddy said I could..." because there's just me.  And in this instance, it works.
  • You don't have to hide the new clothes and shoes you bought at the back of the wardrobe, before bringing them out later on and saying to your bemused other half "oh no, I've had these for ages". 
  • When your children are praised for their behaviour, manners, being a genius, etc. you can take all the credit for yourself and admit that actually, you're not doing a bad job on your own.  Society is often too quick to criticise single parents for most of society's woes, but some of us are doing OK thank you very much.
  • Wardrobe/closet space. This is important stuff here! If you're in a marriage/partnership think of the wardrobe/closet space you currently have.  Got that in your head?  Now, double it.  That's what happens when you're a single parent, and should not be dismissed as unimportant!   I get all the clothes hanging space in the wardrobe, and all of the drawers are mine, all mine too! 
  • You form an unusually strong bond with your children.  Now, I'm not saying for one moment that two parent families don't but as a single parent you have to involve your children in some of the family decision making.  My daughters are aware that we only have so much money, that I can't be in two places at once, and that I get tired.  So they get to help me decide what is important, and what our priorities as a family are. It's not all plain sailing but they are learning to take some responsibility for what goes on in their home.
  • You learn skills that may have passed you by otherwise, and so do your children.  As mentioned previously I'm a dab hand at assembling flat-pack furniture but so is The Teenager-in-waiting!  She is my assembly buddy and we do the jobs together.  Apart from the finished product she is also learning about team work, saving money and taking responsibility.  In addition, I can do most of the smaller DIY jobs myself. 
  • If you're lucky enought to have an ex who takes the children for alternate weekends, that gives you some free time!  I managed to get through 6 years of single parenthood before my ex started taking the girls for regular weekends, but now he does take them it's a very welcome break for me.  Two whole days of...well, whatever I want!  
  • You, and your children, learn about resiliance.  My motto is 'What doesn't kill me makes me stronger' and it's served me well so far.  I tell my girls that every experience - good and bad - is there to teach us something, and it's up to us whether we use those lessons wisely or not.
  • And I suppose the best part of being a happy single parent is that the children are living in a conflict free home as opposed to an unhappy one with two warring parents.
  Can any other single parents reading this add any of their own benefits?  I'd love to hear yours.

16 comments:

Iota said...

These are good to read.

Imogen Lamport said...

Great post - and I think another is - you get to eat whatever you want - you don't have to take a partner's taste in food into account!

Kathryn said...

You are so right!!

Nicola said...

I agree with all those. I also love having ownership of the remote control, not having to constantly tidy up and look after another adult. Thanks for the reminder of all the 'pluses'. It has been a rough morning and it is only 7.46am. I needed a reminder!

The Small Fabric Of My Life said...

I am tempted!

Maggie said...

I have a perspective to add as a child of a single parent, and I think you touched on this briefly. I think we as a family acted more as a united front. A "We are all in this together" sort of feeling. Me and my siblings are incredibly close, and I remember my friends being shocked that I was friends with my little brother ("What do you mean you guys don't hate each other??").

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

An award for you at mine. x

Maternal Tales said...

I'm not exactly a single Mum, but I do feel like one a lot of the time...because hubby is always away and sometimes for 2/3 weeks at a time. Then he might be home for a couple of days and then off again for anotehr couple of weeks. People always say to me, when hubby is due home 'Oh you must be looking forward to it', and yes, sometimes, but not all the time. I get so used to being on my own and doing everything my way, that when he does come home and want to assert his authority it drives me just a little bit crazy. I like my little routine with the girls...and not actually being a single mum means that I never get time on my own...because when hubby is home he wants to do things as a family (lovely obviously, but where's my free time)?? Always good and bad points with everything... x

Welsh Girl said...

Many of the things you raise I see as plus points to being single without children!

Watching my friends struggle through parenting, there are definitely moments when I see them undermine one another that I wonder whether it wouldn't be more straightforward (I avoid saying easier) as a single parent!

getting stuff done said...

Made me chuckle. Maybe it shouldn't have. Only of course those are ALL the wee teeny disputes I am currently having! I have a fair few single parent friends, and I must say that weekend off idea does seem rather lovely! As does beAlthough they went through hell to get there, and still have the other side of the story - as in an angry un cooperative other half....

Martini Mummy said...

Love, love, love this post! My favourite point (naturally) is the wardrobe one. Double wardrobe space? There is a God.

beingmumbeingme said...

Yes your comments are very positive, whilst it's tough (my girls are 3 and 6, I've been on my own for 18 months) it's definitely better to bring up kids in an environment free of conflict.
There's also a lot less washing that there used to be...

notSupermum said...

Iota, thanks x

Imogen - yes! My ex was an incredibly fussy eater, so cooking is much simpler now.

Kathryn, glad you agree!

Nicola, I nearly added the one about the remote - it's all about power isn't it?! Any hey, we all have bad days/weeks. Hope it gets better for you. x

Jane - Ha! I bet it was the wardrobe space that got you wasn't it?

Maggie, thanks for visiting. Yes, that's an important one. We do have a united front attitude, and we're pretty formidable sometimes!

Brit/Fraught Mummy - bless!

Maternal Tales/Emily - I completely understand your need for free time. And it must be difficult with your husband being away so often. Hope you get a break soon x

Welsh Girl - yes, I don't recommend being a single parent but as I say, there are always positive sides to most situations you find yourself in.

Get Stuff Done - chuckle away! Unfortunately, you still have to deal with the ex but as least he's not at home anymore!

Tosha - hi there! And thanks x

Martini Mum - yes, I have a lot of wardrobe space - but strangely have nothing to wear....

Beingmumbeingme - hello, thanks for dropping by. My children were the same age as yours when my ex left, so I feel your pain. I think the first couple of years are the hardest, but as the children get older things do fall into place more. Good luck x

Rosie Scribble said...

Another brilliant post, and all so true. I'll ditto the comments that add about choosing what I can eat and not having to take a partner's tastes into account, and having complete control over the TV remote. Also, as there is just me my daughter can't play one parent off against the other and I know I'll always be her favourite!

Kerree said...

Everything you said is so true. I love being a single parent because I am a total control freak and its my way or the highway thank you very much. The extra closet space is just gravy :)

Stigmum said...

How late am I?? So late, so late, ne'er mind!!
I'll add blogging freedom! No partner wondering whether I write about him! The Foca might find out of course, might improve relationships if he does (or see me down the courts for defamation) but for now I'm free free free to blog about him to my heart's content! Agree with pretty much everything else you say! Thanks for the reminder!