Raising a child is hard, doing it alone is undeniably harder.
But that shouldn’t make any single parent out there fear that it could not be done. I was raised alone by my mother, who separated with my father when I was a little over a year old.
She managed to raise me and send me to a good school by working abroad.
I am now a lawyer, with a family of my own. I think I turned out okay, the lack of father-figure notwithstanding.
With this post, I would like the single mothers (or fathers) out there to know that a complete family is not a necessary formula to do well in raising a child.
Based on my experience, these are some of the things that worked well for me and my mother:
Let your child know the truth.
One of the most common causes of raising a child single-handedly is separation by the parents. It is not a child’s fault that the parents have irreconcilable differences, but most of the time, it is the child who is caught in the middle of the undesirable situation.
In my case, the moment that I was old enough to understand, my parent’s separation was brought to light, sans the sugarcoating.
Knowing the battle is winning half of it, they say.
True enough, since I am aware of the real score between my parents, I do not expect my father to be present during recognition days, or birthdays, and other special occasions. When a child is aware of the truth, it helps him manage his expectations and cope with the situation.
Keep the communication lines open.
As parents, we expect our child to open up to us because knowing who they are helps us in raising them the right way (if there is ever a right way).
But, a child also wants a piece of his parent’s mind. You would be surprised how mature a child could get, if you only allow him to be involved.
As for me, my mother would usually tell me stories about her work and the struggle that she had to go through to sustain our needs.
With these in mind, it inspired me to become a better daughter. Thus, I would suggest to single parents to tell their child how they truly feels.
It makes the child realize the battle that the parent goes through, and in the process, makes him want to alleviate the parent’s burden in his own simple ways.
Surround the kid with a loving support system.
I grew up without a father figure, but I had a maternal grandfather who imposed discipline on me like a father would do to his child. Aside from my grandfather, I was also surrounded by wonderful cousins, uncles and aunts.
It made me feel that there was no lack at all – in fact, there was abundance of love for me.
It goes without saying that there is no vacuum that couldn’t be filled up with love and care from other members of the family.
If there is no family members who could do this for your child, close friends could also make him feel special and loved. Just as long as there is a loving support system, any child would feel complete.
Make your child feel that he is part of the struggle.
Yes, do not make it your personal battle only. Include your child in the struggle and make him realize that raising him alone would entail a little help from his end.
As for me, I was constantly reminded to do well in school and reach for my dreams because my mother is working so hard for it.
Being aware of my mother’s sacrifices has given me all the reasons to make good. I had always thought that if I screw up, my mother’s efforts would be futile. It is our struggle, it is not hers alone.
Lastly, take time to relax and have fun!
It is totally understandable if a single parent could hardly find time to relax, let alone spend fun, quality time with the kids.
This holds true especially for single parents who are struggling to make both ends meet – and who would rather spend the last centavo on food or clothing than on a day out at the park capped with a lavish food at a fancy restaurant.
But please do realize that time flies so fast – the next thing you know, your sons or daughters are already walking down the aisle, ready to start with a family of their own.
It would be so sad to send them off with nothing but memories of struggles and hardships to have a better life.
So seize every moment, spend quality time every chance you get, act silly and do silly things with your kids, cut yourself some slack.
They need a strong parent and a good provider, but more than that, they need a parent who can give them love, affection and time.
I firmly believe that it is not the complete set of parents which ensures a successful child-rearing. At least one good parent is better than a dysfunctional set.
And at the end of the day, single parents should not put too much pressure on their shoulders.
These kids are their own person, they will grow up to be who they are destined to be. If the parent has shown them love and raised them the best way they know how, that is already a battle well-fought.
Khaye, a mother to a 10-month old boy, is a newbie blogger. She is adjusting to the life changes, but is immensely enjoying the happiness that marriage and motherhood now brings. She litigates in court at daytime, blogs at night and drinks coffee in between. You can read her chronicles of raising a child while (trying to) win cases on the side at Legally Mama, which is July’s Blog of the Month.