Without a partner to help share the load, make the decisions and set out the boundaries for the children, you need to make sure that you are employing the right parenting techniques in the right way, and that you stand firm on these even if your ex is undermining your parenting techniques.
Here’s some practical parenting techniques you can start using today
1. Love your Kids Unconditionally
They need to know that their position in your affections is unchanged by any disobedience or disappointments. They are the center of your world no matter what, and even as you discipline them they need to have total confidence that you love them unconditionally, no matter what!
2. Ask for Help
In poor countries a whole village bring up a child, and so it is with us. Don’t be so proud as to not ask for help, especially from close family members or close friends. If none will help you, make sure you enroll your kids in day care or after school to give you a much needed break.
3. Don’t Play the Bribery Game
Divorce usually leads to the ex trying to buy the love of your kids, and you must not be drawn into a bribery match. You might feel like the bad cop, but giving the child more and more will undermine their moral development. Talk to your ex and see if they will listen and help parent the children. If they won’t, ask your support to help and make sure even if you are not the Santa Clause, that your child still feels loved.
4. Set Firm Boundaries
Kids need limits. They need to know where these limits are, and what happens if they step over them. Boundaries provide security within which kids experience peace and freedom, so don’t be afraid to set reasonable boundaries. Make sure they are on important things, not trivial ones.
5. Follow Through with Consequences
A classic single mom mistake is to threaten consequences and not follow through, especially in public where fear of criticism governs our response to disobedience. If you set a penalty and the children commit the offense, do what you have promised!
6. Listen to Your Kids
Take time out of your day to sit alone with each child and listen to them. Your ex probably doesn’t do this, so it will mean a lot to your child. I like to take each child to a local McDonalds and have an ice-cream and half an hours chat. They love it!
7. Don’t Give Up!
Whatever you do, however you feel, one of the best parenting techniques is to not give up! Keep going, even if things are hard, and even if your children say cruel things to you. I know it hurts, but they sometimes lash out when they are mad, just like you sometimes do. the problem is, you cannot take the words back once you have said them!
So keep loving them, keep disciplining them, keep being strong for them and most importantly, keep learning and consistently applying new parenting techniques.
Being a Good Parent as a Single
Being a good parent as a single mom or dad is possible and achievable. It is certainly a harder ask than attempting this as part of a couple, but many would argue rightly that parenting alone is better than parenting with the wrong partner, or in an abusive relationship.
Being a Good Parent takes more than Just Love!
As a single parent I am sure that you love your children, but being a good parent is far more than that. In my charity running a home for young mothers, I have seen loads of girls who love their kids but cannot parent them properly, even to the point where the government removes them and places them in foster care. Lots of love, sure, but no parenting skills!
Beyond loving your children being a good parent means making some tough choices and providing real leadership in the home, even as a single parent. It means learning our Top 10 parenting skills, and applying them consistently. And consistently is the key word!
As a single parent you may not have someone with which to share the parenting load, discuss the situations you face or be there for you when you need help or a break. If you lack a partner, I urge you to find someone else who can help, such as your mother, a close friend or an organization like the one I run, which is called Lily House.
You may feel that you would like to stand on your own, but trust me, even if you don’t work full or part time, you still can benefit from support. If you don’t have someone close to you, you can pay for things like child care or after school support.
Sometimes being a good parent is about asking for help rather than continuing to do what you are doing and facing failure or collapse. It’s about being strong for your children and being a leader, rather than having them control you and your reactions. It’s about acting with your kids instead of reacting. Good parenting is about good decisions you can make in the easy times that you stick to when the pressure is on.
Learning how to parent is very achievable for single moms and dads. The pressure may be on to compromise, especially if you share custody, because chances are your ex is not going to parent in the same style as you do. Nevertheless, if you do the right things in the long run your children will thank you for it.
Is Being a Good Parent about Being a Policeman?
Sometimes yes, you will have to make unpopular decision, and when your ex gets to have the fun times and you get to do the disciplining, is can be a difficult position.
That’s when you need to show unconditional love, as well as firm rules, and it may be the right time to talk to your ex about coordinating your efforts for the good of your child. If bringing up your child degrades into a game of ‘who can give the biggest bribe’, then your child might think they are winning, but they will ultimately lose.
Read our Top 10 parenting skills and apply them with genuine love. You will discover than being a good parent is more than just love, and that even as a single parent, you can do this successfully for your child.