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If you are a single parent, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single-mother families increased from 3 million in 1970 to 10 million in 2003, while the number of single-father families grew from less than half a million to 2 million.
Successful Single Parents
Parenting is never easy, even when there are two parents in the home. It is important to realize that one parent cannot fill the roles of both mother and father. You cannot do the work of two parents, but you can be a successful parent.
Single parents say they have been successful when they have
Your Child's Worries and Fears
Your children may have worries about survival, where they will live, and who will protect and take care of them.
They may also worry or be anxious about
If you become a single parent when your children are teenagers, extra problems may arise. Teenagers often feel betrayed, rejected, or ashamed when the family breaks up or when there is change in the family structure.
Teenagers may become overwhelmed and overburdened by household responsibilities and younger child care. They may resent the change in their lifestyle. They may feel caught in the middle and develop a cynical attitude towards marriage and relationships.
What You Can Do
You can offset the extra stressors that come with a single-parent family by intentionally creating a home that is secure, stable, and loving.
Here are some things you can do:
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your body, mind, soul, and spirit. If you don't take care of yourself, you put extra strain on your relationships and your body. Get rest, exercise, develop healthy eating habits, and find time for spiritual nourishment.
Build a community of friends, co-workers, church members, support groups, and other single parents. It's okay to be single as long as you're not alone. Don't hesitate to ask for their help. Allow others to lift you up when you are down, overwhelmed, hurting, or in crisis.
Let your child know that you love him or her, both in words and action. Recognize your child's efforts and the good things he or she does. Reassure your child, at every possible opportunity, that he or she is a unique, valuable, and loveable person -- and expect the best. Love your child unconditionally.
Set a good example by being a person of integrity so that your child will trust you and can model your behavior. Show your child that you stay true to your principles and beliefs. If you want to teach your child honesty, tell the truth. If you want to teach self-reliance, be responsible for your own actions. If you want to teach your child justice and mercy, live by the Golden Rule. Be your child's role model.
Talk with your teen about choices, boundaries, and the values of your family. Spiritual beliefs and underlying principles will direct, guide, and strengthen your family.
Involve your child in decision-making and establishing family rules and consequences. When you set the family rules, take the time to explain your decision, and be sure to follow through.
Develop routines and family traditions and rituals. Routines such as eating dinner together at a certain time, special times for homework and chores, and regular bedtimes offer stability through prioritizing. Traditions and rituals such as attending religious services together, birthdays, holiday celebrations, family reunions, and Sunday dinner conveys family identity and can give meaning through the generations.
Spend time with your child each day. Your child needs your undivided attention. Set aside a special time together. You can provide a listening ear, words of encouragement, and share fun activities.
Don't overindulge your child. Happiness and loving relationships cannot be bought. Parents who are generous with material possessions, allow too much freedom, and provide too much help do not let their children learn how to balance privilege with responsibility. Overindulged children are often immature, self-centered, angry, spoiled, narcissistic, lack motivation, and have self-control problems.
Don't take your anger, anxieties, frustrations, or personal problems out on your child. Anger is physically, emotionally, and relationally damaging. Watch your own words and make sure you're not belittling your child but rather building him or her up. Make sure your child feels comfortable approaching you and expressing his or her feelings.
Don't say negative things about the other parent or force your teen to take sides. Your child has the right to love both parents without guilt or disapproval.
Don't confide too much of your personal life -- you are the parent, not your child's buddy, and your child is not your confidant.
Remember that there is no thing as a perfect parent. Everyone makes mistakes and has problems. Acknowledge your own mistakes, handle them with maturity, and learn from them. In this way, you can overcome your problems, deal with issues, change situations, and show your child your strength and character.
Information from Parenting By Yourself, North Carolina Extension Service.
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Making Lemonade ~ Single parent network providing support, information, and resources.
M.O.M.S. ~ International single moms and dads organization with membership in 65 countries.
National Organization of Single Mothers ~ Education, advocacy, and support for all single mothers whether by chance or by choice.
New Zealand Single Parents ~ Online community with articles, noticeboard, and links to single parenting support groups in New Zealand.
One Parent Families Scotland ~ Promoting supportive policies and services for single parents and their children since 1944.
Responsible Single Fathers ~ Online forum to support fathers as they cope, parent, nurture, love, and emotionally and financially care for their children.
Separated Dads (UK) ~ Information, support, and resources for fathers who are away from or separated from their children.
Single Family Voices ~ Through message boards, chats, and articles, single parents share support, information, discuss issues, and changes that need to be done to make single healthy parenting choices.
SingleFather.org ~ Resources and support for responsible single fathers.
Single Parents Network ~ Provides single parent web sites, articles, information, government resources, online discussion forum support boards and more, for any one looking for single parent information.
Single Rose -- Resource for Single Mothers ~ An emotionally supportive site for divorced, widowed and never-married women raising children alone.
Singleparents UK ~ Online community for single parents with information, advice, and first-hand experiences to help you enjoy life as a single parent.
5 Financial Basics for Single Parents ~ No one says it's easy, but single parents can keep their families economically stable.
Path of the Single Person ~ The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the spiritual and emotional path of the single person, so that you can put some sort of structure into your particular life context.
Single Parents Are Not Alone ~ No one makes it alone. As single parents, you've got to trust that there are people out there that will help you, believe in you, support you, guide you.
Tips for Carrying a Two-Parent Load ~
While the load of a single parent is indeed heavier, there
are some things you can do to save your sanity.
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