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Raising Your Child In A Single Parent Home

Apr 19, 2008
More and more children in the United States live in single-parent homes for at least part of their lives. One out of four children is born to a single mother and many single mothers are still in their teens. More single women are choosing to adopt children or become pregnant, and many men gain custody of their children after a divorce. The idealized version of the family, in which children live with both parents, makes some children in single-parent homes feel as if their own family is second-rate. But the most important characteristics of a well-adjusted family are the relationships within the family and the children's sense of security and happiness.

Most single parents enjoy a rewarding family life. They often develop closer relationships with their children than do parents in traditional two-parent families. Other relationships may become more important too-those with aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, and coaches. But being a single parent is always demanding. Many single parents have no one with whom to share the endless responsibilities waiting for them after work. If you are a single parent, it's important for you to take steps to prevent yourself from becoming physically and emotionally exhausted. If you are overwhelmed by the pressures at home and work, you won't be there for your children, who need you. It is in both your interest and your child's that you maintain some balance in your life.

Here are some guidelines for helping to prevent burnout:

* Set aside some time each day to unwind and rest-even though you feel you don't have any extra time. It's all right to let the housework go until later.

* Encourage your children to talk about their feelings to relieve concerns.

* Maintain consistent, fair discipline. Learn effective ways to guide your child's behavior by reading books about parenting or taking parenting classes.

* Get help and support from other people. Single parents and their children do better when they have a strong support system. Enlist grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, good friends, coaches, or members of the clergy. Choose people who can develop a supportive, trusting relationship with your child and who are willing to step in when you cannot. Join support groups such as Parents Without Partners. Web sites on the Internet can also help single parents to exchange experiences, parenting tips, and encouragement.

* Take care of your own needs. To be a good parent to your child, you need to feel good about yourself. Take time out from parenting to socialize with other adults and maintain and nurture friendships.

* Give your child household chores to take some of the burden off of yourself But avoid asking him or her to take on adult responsibilities

* Don't try to be a super parent and don't feel guilty about what you can't do or give to your children.

* Be honest and talk to your child regarding issues that affect both and you and ask him or her how what they would like you to do different so as to ensure that they feel loved and cared for.
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