Essential parenting tips for single parents who want to raise happy, healthy kids
Parenting is one of the most important – and challenging – jobs in the world, and when you’re a single mom or dad, that job difficulty increases quite a bit. But it doesn’t mean that your parenting skills aren’t up to the task as a single parent.
No child comes with instructions. Every child is different. And no matter what types of parenting styles you choose to practise with your kids, you are still going to need friends and family to support you along the way.
You may have already learned some parenting tips that really work for you and your children, but in order to bring your best efforts to child-rearing, single parents need to take care of their own psychological, physical, mental and spiritual needs, too, in addition to those of their children.
You must be mentally and emotionally healthy in order to learn how to be a good parent and parent well.
Here are 9 essential parenting tips for single parents who want to raise happy, healthy kids:
1. Love yourself
First, in order to learn how to be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself. You need to be at your best for yourself and your child, so make time to go out with friends. Get plenty of sleep. Make sure you and your child eat well.
Continue to nurture your adult needs through for example, work, volunteering, hobbies, joining a group, being part of a religious or spiritual community and having time to relax.
This is an important parenting skill to hone and follow.
2. Ask for help when you need it
Raising children with a partner is tough enough, but doing it alone as a single mom or dad is even harder. If you find yourself in a place where you are struggling as an individual and as a parent, remember that there are people to help you.
There is no shame in asking for assistance. Getting help is a sign of strength. It shows you have the wisdom to reach out for support when you need it.
You might have a friend or family member you trust. If you need more than what they can offer, you can find a minister, priest, rabbi, mullah, or other spiritual leaders. There are counsellors, psychologists and coaches who can help you, too.
I urge single parents to get help before parenting issues become severe. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is that you get the help you need so you can provide a positive parenting environment for both you and your child.
Your goal as a single parent is not to be popular, but to be faithful to raising your child in the best way possible
3. Your child needs you to be their parent
You may get lonely parenting by yourself. However, in the early years of your child’s life, you need to remember he or she is your child – not your friend. You need to go elsewhere to find friendship.
As a parent, you are there to make sure your child gets everything she or he needs to grow into a happy, healthy adult. You need to make sure your child is well cared for and is getting proper rest and good food. It is important to make sure your child gets the education they need and that you support them through their schooling.
It is vital for you to keep them physically and emotionally safe. Sometimes, this will mean saying “no” to something your child wants to do that is not safe. It can mean physically stopping them from doing something dangerous; e.g. preventing your child from running across a busy road or stopping them from touching a hot burner.
Your goal as a single parent is not to be popular, but to be faithful to raising your child in the best way possible.
4. Make sure your children know they’re loved
The most important thing you can do as a single mom or dad is to make sure your child feels loved. And the best way to do this is to simply spend time with them.
You need to let them know that you love them unconditionally. This does not mean you appreciate or agree with every choice they make. But the more your child can understand that there is nothing that will stop your love for them, the better chance they have growing up into well-adjusted adults.
Take the time to listen to your child. Play with them, read to them and sing with them. Go on outings to parks, pools, playgrounds, museums, gardens, movies, plays, concerts and they will know they are valued. The most important thing is that you take the time to be with them.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that it is enough to spend money on your child, without you spending quality time with him or her. While a child may not admit it, your time and attention are far more critical and important than any tangible thing you give them.
5. Remember that neither parent or child is perfect – and that’s OK
Make room for grace and love. No one is an ideal parent or child, but thankfully, your child is most likely resilient and will still grow up into a mature adult despite the imperfections in your parenting.
It is still essential to do your best, but don’t despair if you fall short of being the perfect parent you’d like to be. If your child knows they are loved, they will mature into beautiful women and men.
You will not be the perfect parent 100% of the time – but that’s OK because no one is!
Do not compare your child to others in your family or among your friends. Each child is unique. Your goal is to help them to feel happy, loving, content, intelligent and feel capable.
You are there to help your child to discover who they are and what they are meant to do in the world. Celebrate with your child no matter what they discover their passions are even if it is not what you dreamed for her or him.
6. Know your strengths and weaknesses
The better you know yourself, the better the parent you will be. Learning about yourself is a life long journey. When you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses you can discern what help you need.
You may discover that your child has an issue that you don’t have the knowledge or resources to help them with. Thus, it is in your child’s best interest to find someone who can assist them.
Pay attention to the mirroring of your issues by your children. It may be hard to accept but, you will you become healthier if you act on these insights.
7. Give the child the type of parenting they need
No two children are alike. One of your children might need to help to slow down and relax. Your next child might need encouragement to play with kids of his or her age. Another child might need help to overcome their anxiety.
Being adaptive and being able to parent to your child needs is an essential tip for single parents who want to raise happy, healthy kids.
The most important thing you can do as a single mom or dad is to make sure your child feels loved. And the best way to do this is to simply spend time with them
8. Don’t say one thing and then do another
Your child is observing you. Hence, it is vital that you walk your talk. If you say you’ll do one thing but end up doing another, it undermines your authority and your child is not going to take you seriously.
Your daughter or son needs you to be consistent in following through with what you say. They want to trust you, but they will have a hard time doing so when you do the opposite of what you say you will do.
9. Enjoy every moment in life
Your child will grow up very fast. Enjoy the wonder of the moments you have with them as they grow up. Every part of their young lives is precious and goes quickly.
Being single and raising a kid can be a rich experience for all. Remember to take care of your own needs and continue to discover who you are in the process. Your child and your parenting journey will teach you a lot about yourself.
You will not be the perfect parent 100% of the time – but that’s OK because no one is!
Remember, children are resilient. Most children will grow into mature, responsible adults despite any imperfections in your parenting. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and keep honing the essential parenting skills needed to raise happy, healthy kids.
Help your child to know they are loved unconditionally by spending quality time with them. Remember you are their parent. Your job is to help them to become adults who will help to make the world a better place.
Stay curious to discover who your growing child is revealing him or herself to be. Stay consistent. Walk your talk as a single parent. And most of all, be sure to enjoy the journey with your child, as you watch them grow into adulthood.
Roland Legge is a life coach here to help you to be the best parent you can be by staying healthy and grounded yourself. Join Roland’s newsletter for monthly expert advice and get your free Enneagram personality test to learn more about your personal strengths and weaknesses, or sign up for a free 30-minute discovery call to find out how he can help you raise happy, healthy kids.