Thursday, April 15, 2010

Being the Single parent (Mother)


Ever noticed those Television commercials that showcase families? Yes those ones that always have a nuclear family (ideally one boy, one girl) with perfectly white teeth and the endless smiles? yes, even as one such nuclear family, I've been bombarded by those, which has got me thinking about varied family structures and how they affect parenting.

In fact I have had the oppurtunity to meet varied mothers who have CHOSEN to raise their kids in a single parenting structure and I say CHOSEN because that is exactly what happened. Enter Kaycee: faced with a failing relationship with her boyfriend, she decides to call it quits. Only to discover after that she is pregnant. Everyone seems to think that now that a child is on the way, the 'appropriate' thing to do is to remain in the relationship and raise the child together. being a 'new age mom' as my mom calls it, she decides no no no. so she continues separated from her boyfriend and has the child. It is difficult she confesses, especially since she has so many mommy peers in a nuclear family setting. She says she manages however with strong family support and ensuring that her child's father is very active in the child's life. Her daughter adores him she confesses and "so I try to remain neutral when it comes on to their time together. I ensure that he knows about important milestones in her life (birthdays, doctor appointments, special trips etc). I do however wonder sometimes how things will be when she gets older and starts asking why her father doesn't live at home. That is something I think may be a struggle, so for now I try not to think about it" she reveals.

Many 'new age moms' like Kaycee faces a similar situation. Instead of remaining in what could be a potentially unhealthy relationship, they choose to raise their child in more of a single parenting setting. The key to being as close as possible to a successful child rearing strategy, therefore rests in how the parent mananges his or her time and how much oppurtunities there are for the other parent to be involved.

Enter Le-Ann, who having been married for 5 years, finally filed for a divorce. "It was a very tough time" she expressed. "With three kids and a very shaky job situation, I was forced to decide whether or not I would stay with my husband for the sake of our children. It always makes me feel guilty when it is put that way, especially since I chose to move on with life as a single parent, as our relationship was truly heading no where. No day is ever easy as I now have three times the work, and where Mark would have assisted with getting the kids dressed, I am now on my own". She also adds that the most difficult part of choosing to go this route is the constant questions from her kids. "Its always more difficult when the kids have gotten used to seeing their father everyday. They truly miss him and no matter, how much of a failing relationship we had, he was a good father to them". With tears in eyes she explains, "To date, the questions keep coming 'when is Daddy coming back? To this day, I have only survived the many questions both from my kids and persons in society, because I have told myself that in the long run I wouldnt have my kids see me crying at nights because my relationship was failing. The irony though is that I still cry, moreso because I know they miss having their dad at home, even though he is still very active in their lives and then there is the constant thought if they'll ever hate me for leaving when they get much older".

As expressed by both ladies, being a single parent-'new age' or not is no easy task and probably their biggest challenges come from concern about the wellbeing of their children and a very unforgiving society. As pointed out by family counsellors, Parents who choose to raise their child alone-separated from the father are therefore often bombarded by varied societal analyses which indicates that this sort of parenting is less than ideal. While there are indeed many challenges affiliated with this type of family structure, professionals have ascertained that there are in fact benefits for the 'new age mom' in a single parent family structure. The Associated Content's Jacqueline Parks, shares one of the major benefits being the ability to "develop more confidence in yourself. As you learn to make decisions on your own and solve problems, you will develop confidence that you don't need to rely on anyone else to get you through life. If you financially support yourself and your kids, that is another boost to your self-esteem". . Another major benefit is listed as " A less stressful home-Single parent homes typically have less arguing and are often less stressful than two parent homes especially for the children". Get the fulll list of benefits here . Also check out some of the challenges of being in a single parent home and subsequent strategies for a successful single parenting

And remember ladies, behind every dark cloud, there is indeed a silver lining :-D

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