- 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.
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.