Single Parenting Emotions and How to Cope with Them
Experiencing single parenting emotions comes with being a parent. Sometimes, being a solo guardian or parent isn’t done by choice.
Circumstances such as divorce or separation, unplanned pregnancy and childbirth, spousal abandonment, widowhood, or other situations that are beyond their control can suddenly make someone a single parent. In this case, the emotions commonly associated with grief, including Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance (DABDA) are bound to make themselves felt.
However, there are those who voluntarily choose to be single parents or guardians. They, too, still have complex single parenting emotions to face. They characteristically go with the daily tasks of parenting, magnified by the fact that these responsibilities are not shared and managed with a spouse or partner. Below are five of the most common emotional struggles of solo parents (whether single parenthood was a choice or not), and what can be done to address them.
1. Anxiety over finances. Being a solo parent almost always means financial challenges to pay the rent, mortgage, utility bills, groceries, school tuition and supplies, and other monthly financial obligations to keep a family comfortable and a house ticking. Even some two-parent households sometimes find themselves struggling to make ends meet every month. A home with just one person financially responsible for majority of the expenses (especially true with single parents of very young children) understandably brings about anxious single parenting emotions as far as money matters are concerned.
Some simple things can be done about this. For instance, you can significantly cut down utility costs by imposing strict rules about using electrical appliances such as the television and computer on certain schedules. Take advantage of store promos, discounts, coupons, and sales. Strike out unnecessary luxuries in grocery and shopping lists. For homes that have a high mortgage or lease, consider moving into a house that offers lower interest rates or friendlier financing programs. Downsizing and making doable sacrifices for your family can definitely keep financial-related worrying single parenting emotions at bay.
2. Guilt about leaving children for hours to work. A single parent is presumably a working parent unless they have a trust fund to keep them financially independent. Sometimes, guilt becomes part and parcel of single parenting emotions because kids have to be left to day-care or someone else to baby-sit them due to the demands of a nine-to-five job. Recognizing that multi-tasking is possible by properly scheduling work or taking on home based freelance assignments can effectively address the guilt issue. Family should be priority for single parents. Spending quality time with your kids should never be compromised in favor of advancements in a career that could mean neglecting the health and happiness of your children.
3. Resentment and depression at single-handedly doing parental duties. In the case of single parents who suddenly find themselves handling parenting tasks by their lonesome, there could be some resentment towards ex-spouses or partners. This is perfectly understandable, yet it is never a productive feeling. Negative single parenting emotions such as these will not help put food on the table or make kids happy and well-adjusted. Do not let feelings of isolation get you down to the point of being depressed. Seek out trusted friends and family members who can cheer you up and help you recognize your strengths as an individual. Make your children your constant inspiration to become a better person and a fantastic parent. Try your best to avoid poisoning your kids’ image of their other parent with negative words, as these can harm them psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Instead, focus on becoming the best parent you can be, and learn to be kind to yourself by taking well-deserved breaks and indulgences every now and then.
4. Shame about asking others for help. Everybody needs help once in a while, not just single parents. Even the most capable parent cannot handle all the demands of parenting in one smooth go. One of the most unconstructive single parenting emotions you could face is refusing to seek help because of pride or shame at being labeled as an incompetent guardian. Learn to let go of these negative emotions and embrace the fact that family, friends, and professionals are there to guide you and help you raise your children, run a happy home, and make life manageable for you and your brood.
5. Pressure from family and friends about choices you make as a single parent. You have to make decisions about your family every step of the way. You may sometimes feel as if you can do all these without consulting anyone else, as your family’s welfare is priority. A lot of single parenting emotions indicate independent thinking and decision making. However, confiding in your closest and most trusted family members, friends, and even your ex-spouse about any decision you have to make (whether they are major ones such as schooling, or tiny ones such as choosing the right shoes for your kids) can help you lighten the load and see things in another perspective. Ultimately, though, every choice and decision is up to you.
There may be plenty of negative single parenting emotions to face on your solo parenthood journey, but the most important thing to do is not to indulge them. Kids have a way of picking up self-pitying and depressing vibes from their parents. Make quality time with them your top priority, and never forget to be kind to yourself in order to become a terrific single parent.
Copyright © 2011 by Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved.
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