Be A Superhero To Your Children,
Even If You’re Parenting Alone
It’s not easy being a single parent, for men or women. The challenge of juggling work and family just became that much harder. You might have to entrust your children to daycare or babysitters a lot more than you would like.
If you’re newly divorced or widowed, you’re also dealing with the sorrow of a lost relationship, one that might have been very loving. You have to cope with your own grief as well as offer comfort and hope to your children.
If you are divorced, you may also be dealing with the stigma of divorce. People can be quick to judge, even if the breakup was amicable.
Coping with stress
It might be tempting to deal with stress by turning to drugs or alcohol, but that won’t help in the long run. Plus, when parenting solo, you never know when your child might have an accident or need you, which means staying sober all the time.
If a drink was your go-to before, now is the time to be ruthless and cut ties with anything that might trigger you to stray from the path of sobriety. You may have to say goodbye to one or more drinking buddies. And avoid bars and restaurants where you might, historically, have had one too many.
You might be asking, “Well, how do I cope with all this stress, then?” And the answer is: It depends on who you are. Many people take comfort in their faith, prayer and church or synagogue attendance. Others will need to join a gym or a support group, while others may benefit from a disciplined lifestyle that involves vegetarianism, yoga, or meditation. Take stock of who you are and what has worked for you in the past.
Whatever you do, find a way to take some time out of your day for yourself. This should be time away from work and away from children. Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood, be sure to check in with yourself.
Expand your support system
Every child needs a wide network of support that includes an extended family. You may need to broaden your parental support system for your own sake as well as your children’s.
Reconnect with your siblings and parents. Don’t be too proud to ask for their help. Let people at work know that you’re going it alone at parenthood and that you may need a flexible schedule. If any of your co-workers have children, see if you can get your kids together for a playdate.
Do try to meet and befriend other single fathers and mothers, particularly in your neighborhood. NextDoor.com may be useful for this, and it’s customary for parents to help each other out, especially in times of crisis.
It also helps to make yourself available to other parents in the neighborhood. Let them know they can turn to you if they need an emergency sitter. Doing so ensures they will be there for you should the need ever arise.
Raising your kids alone is no easy feat. But plenty of people do it all the time. By using managing your stress and using the “it takes a village” approach, you can find the support you and your children need. Plus, you’ll be able to take comfort in the knowledge that you’re being the best father you can be.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.