By Beth Land Hecht, LCSW-C
Whether you are bringing up your child on your own by choice, or due to divorce, death or other circumstances, you spend the bulk of your day as a single parent. Even though there are now more households headed by single parents than in any previous generation, many single parents share that they feel isolated or invisible. It’s still a “couples’ world” is a common lament. Parenting under any circumstances is not always easy, but parenting without a partner presents some special challenges.
As any single parent can tell you, it feels as if there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. At times you may feel physically and/or emotionally exhausted. Then there are the practical problems, such as juggling work and family responsibilities. If you’re at work, what are you supposed to do when the school nurse calls to say your child is ill, or when school closes at the last minute because of snow — not to mention all of the days off for conferences, holidays and school vacations? You have to face hard decisions on your own, such as which pre-school to choose, where to find the best schools and neighborhood, how to manage a situation with a child’s friend who may not be kind or a positive role model, and the list continues. It’s also tough always having to be the “heavy,” saying “no” and standing your ground when your child pushes back.
Single parents may wonder how much to share with their child. For instance, if your job could be in jeopardy and you are worried about future employment and income, how much should you tell your child? In thinking about this, you are weighing your needs with your child’s needs and anticipating how the information you give might impact him or her. Remember that you are the adult and your child is a child.
Just as it is important for you to have your own interests and adult time separate from your child, it’s equally important that you allow your child to have his or her own life, space, friends, and activities. You will not be able to meet all of your child’s needs, nor can your child meet all of your needs.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
- We often hesitate to ask for help. But people want to help. Accept the offers from family, neighbors, friends and co-workers. Create a safety net and support system for you and your child.
- Take care of your physical and emotional health. Reserve time for yourself — you can’t be there for your child if you are too tired, stressed or ill.
- It’s not necessary to share everything that you are experiencing or feeling in your life with your child. It is natural to need emotional support, but seek it from a relative, friend or therapist.
- If you are grieving the loss of your partner who has died, or adjusting to life after divorce, seek support from others who share similar experiences. Join a bereavement group or a support group, or speak to a counselor.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself – give yourself a break. No one is perfect and your child does not expect you to be a perfect parent.
- Enjoy your child!
Single parents often develop special close bonds and relationships with their children. But when raising your child on your own feels challenging or stressful, Jewish Community Services offers resources to help and support you.
JCS is hosting “Parenting Without a Partner” on Tuesday, November 12, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Services office in Owings Mills, 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue (in the JCC). Beth Land Hecht, LCSW-C, will facilitate. Connect with other parents facing similar challenges, get useful, practical tips and resources. Free and open to the public, the session is part of the JCS Parent Discussion Series Pre-registration is required. For more information and registration, visit www.jcsbaltimore.org/parenting-series or call 410-843-7568.
Questions about parenting? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on parenting click here or call 410-466-9200.