12 Tips for Successful Single Parenting
Don't involve your little one in grown-up problems -- and other words to live by!
Single parenting can be challenging and at times, overwhelming. In addition to dealing with your own emotions, you need to stay focused on what's best for your child. You may be solo parenting by choice or by chance. Whether your child's other parent is in the picture or not, pledge to be a great role model for your child.
"Do the best you can. One great parent is enough," says Honoree Corder, a former single mom, executive coach and best-selling author of "The Successful Single Mom" book series and "If Divorce Is a Game, These Are the Rules."
These 12 single parenting tips will help you be the best parent you can be:
- Be the Parent, Not the "Peer-ent"
"Friends are groups of people with the same notions and ideas about life. Adults and kids have totally different views on what's right and wrong," says Julia Cook, a nationally recognized parenting expert and author of "The D Word." "Being a parent is a functional role. Being a friend is an emotional role. A child isn't morally, emotionally or intellectually prepared to be your confidante. If you act too much like a friend, you miss opportunities to provide guidance."
- Don't Share Grown-Up Problems
Talk to friends, therapists and life coaches -- not to your kids -- about your adult problems. "Heal your wounds and create a new and exciting future vision," Corder stresses.
- Plan Regular Family Meetings
Family meetings provide structure. Whether it's twice a week or once a month, take this time to point out your child's strengths, address any problems and plan activities and events to enjoy together.
- Hold to Realistic Rules and Expectations
Parents need "to communicate their expectations to their kids and hold firm on those rules and expectations," says Corder. If your child knows he is supposed to make his bed every morning and fails to do so, follow through by disciplining him in a timely and age-appropriate way.
- Get the Job Done With Teamwork
Kids should be allowed plenty of time to play, but don't be afraid to assign them household tasks that you can't tackle alone. "People have a natural instinct to be productive -- kids are born with it," says Cook. A family is built on mutual obligation and a need to help each other. Make chore time playful, turn jobs into a game, use a chore jar or work as a team.
- Keep Information Flowing
Regarding your single parenting status -- "Let your child's teacher, school counselor and child care provider know what's happening," recommends Cook. Keep communication open with your child's other parent, too, and communicate with each other away from your child if you can't talk civilly.
- Involve Other Positive Role Models
You're a great parent, but other role models will bring different strengths to the table. Encourage grandparents, siblings and other adults to serve as mentors in your child's life to introduce her to a wider range of values and ideas.
- Spend Quality Time With Your Child
Though it may seem impossible to do with a single parent's schedule, do your best to attend your child's activities and special events to show your support.
- Enjoy Your Kids
One-on-one time is just as important. Go for bike rides, walks, out for ice cream ... have fun!
- Routines Are Great But Be Open to Change
If you recently became a single parent, keep things the same after divorce or the death of a parent, Cook advises. Corder adds, "Routines are healthy, but parents and kids can easily adapt to changing circumstances with the right attitude."
- Let Go of What You Can't Control
Your parenting style may differ from other parents or care givers. "Don't tell your child that another parent's way is wrong," Cook suggests. "Instead say, 'We do things this way in our house.'"
- Use Mantras and Hang in There!
Positive affirmations like "life goes on and life is good" or "I've got this" can help you cope on difficult days.
During her years of single parenting, Sandy Wallace enjoyed fun with her kids while teaching them life skills. Follow her on Twitter.