June 23, 2011

Tips for Savvy Single Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:42 pm by demetriagraves

Here’s an interesting article my colleague Colleen Bushby, wanted to share with you. She is a single mom of 4, Lifestyle Transformation Coach, and Founder of SavvyDivorcedChicks.com.  She is passionate about helping women to live a life after divorce that is “better, not bitter!” Through her coaching programs, blog, teleseminars, and radio show, she empowers women with information and resources in all the areas  they navigate after divorce…personal development; health & wellness; finances; career & business; and relationships. To receive your Free Guide, “Jumpstart Your Life After Divorce…5 Savvy Steps You Can Take NOW!” go to www.SavvyDivorcedChicks.com.

Tips for Savvy Single Parenting

There is no doubt that single parenting is a challenge in life after divorce, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. I admit that when my marriage was coming to an end, I was petrified at the thought of raising four kids (three who are boys) on my own. I had grown up the oldest of four girls so I was pretty confident about raising my daughter, but raising boys was truly going to be a challenge!

Nine years later, I am proud to say that I think I have done a pretty good job with all four of my kids. I actually receive regular phone calls and text messages from my college-aged sons and I recently received a complimentary note, along with pictures from one of my son’s high school graduation, from my former father-in-law! This is not to say I have not had to deal with any challenges or that I have not made mistakes along the way because I definitely have, but my kids have thrived academically, emotionally and socially despite the challenges of a single parent home.

Here are my tips for having an awesome relationship with your kids…

Care For Yourself

When you are exhausted and overwhelmed physically and emotionally you are no good to anyone, especially your children. It is crucial that you maintain healthy habits by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising, and also give yourself some “mom time” without your kids. It is also crucial that you forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up for your failed relationship. Look instead at the gifts and lessons you can take from it. Part of caring for yourself is also asking for help when you need it. When you care for yourself, your children can see and feel the difference in your household.

Always Make Your Kids The Priority

Children in single parent homes may subconsciously feel abandoned, rejected, or incompetent. However, no one matters to your child more than you! Know your priorities and show your kids you believe in them and their abilities. Give them the power to believe in themselves. Help them to understand what a crucial part they play in the family by giving them responsibilities. Take an interest in their interests and be there to support them. You may walk out of the elementary school concert with a headache, but you wouldn’t want to miss that ear-to-ear smile when they walk off the stage the first time!

Expose Your Kids to Some Form of Faith

Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is important for kids to have some form of faith in their lives. They need to know that they are not their own highest being. They may choose to have different beliefs as adults, but they will never know unless they have some exposure earlier in life. Faith and spirituality also teach kids to be caring, compassionate, and contributing members of their community.

Set Clear Boundaries & Consequences

Though it may be tempting at times to be their friend rather than their parent, kids need discipline and limits. This not only helps them to keep out of trouble, but also leads to a feeling of self-control and ultimately higher self-esteem and a positive outlook. When our kids understand how to make lemonade out of lemons they are more equipped to handle the bumps in life which they will inevitably face as they grow older.

Keep Communication Open

Children learn early on if you are an approachable and emotionally safe parent. Live true to your values and be a good role model. Know your kids’ friends and their families. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your kids about the issues that concern you. Acknowledge their accomplishments and great choices, yet support them with teachable moments when they make mistakes as they test the limits (because they will!). It is also extremely important to acknowledge any negative emotions and affirm how well they are handling them. Open communication with your kids will only improve your relationship.

Make Memories That Will Last

My grandparents were married 57 years and I learned from them the importance of family memories and relationships. Every Sunday after church all 20 grandchildren and our parents would go to my grandparents for “sticky buns and orange juice.” The boys (and occasionally some of the girls) would all play football on their lawn. We can spend all the money in the world on our kids, but if they don’t have strong family relationships they will never truly know how to relate with others. I know my kids will always remember fondue and board games on New Year’s Day, holidays & summer vacations with extended family, and the 2700 mile RV trip I took them on!

Give Lots of Hugs and I Love You’s

What you give, you get back! Don’t be afraid to show your kids, even your teenagers, affection. Though it may be challenging with the media and the values that are portrayed to our kids as important , teach your children about love and respect for others. They will learn to value not only themselves, but also life and will truly enjoy it. Be sure to show them that happiness comes from within and not from anyone or anything else. In the end, happiness is a choice!

Take the High Road With Your Former Spouse

This is probably one of the most challenging parts of being a single parent…the fact that you parent in your home and your former spouse parents in theirs and that there are probably negative emotions that will always linger on some level. If you can at all be on the same page with expectations, privileges and consequences, it will only benefit your children. Kids in single-parent households need permission to talk about the other parent. Be honest and age-appropriate in your discussions, though also use discretion… some things should be left between adults. As difficult as it may be, it is best that your children not hear you disparage the other parent. This only hurts their self-esteem.

Single parenting can be a lonely and exhausting job, but if approached with a positive and open mindset we can empower our kids to develop into happy and competent young adults. When we look back years from now, hopefully we see that the time, love, happiness, and tears were worth it and we can be proud of the impact our kids have had on the world with their unique gifts.

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