By Mariel Uyquiengco
Single moms belong to a mommy-pedestal all their own. They take on the full responsibility of raising their children by themselves, from parenting to putting food on the table. It takes guts to go the path of single motherhood, and more so to actually thrive. As mom Donna Donor says, single parenthood is not the end of the world. In this first of a two-part series on tips for single moms, be enlightened and encouraged on how to raise your children without a partner backing you up.
Nina Era, a child, adolescent, and family specialist, says “self-care is important so that we have the energy to care for our children.” This means doing things you like and making sure to have time for yourself, to breathe and just be. It can mean going on coffee dates with friends, window-shopping, or having a manicure at a salon. This is valuable advice for any parent (solo or otherwise) and needs to be taken seriously.
Find a “village” to raise your child with
Yols Hortillosa, an editor and a mompreneur operating ShopLittlePanda.com, heeds the well-known adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” She believes that being a single parent does not mean doing everything alone. If you have a close relationship with your parents and siblings, involve them in raising your child, even in just little things such as going out with them or just spending more time together. However, as work-at-home mom Donna Donor says, “it is your main responsibility to raise your child and not theirs.”
If you don’t have your relatives nearby, your “village” can be a group of close friends who you love spending time with and who you can ask parenting advice from. Single parenthood can sometimes mean a larger family for you and your child.
Be firm and gentle
Being a single parent might tempt some moms to spoil their kids to make up for having a non-conventional family. Donna, who works for an events company in Manila under a work-at-home arrangement, believes that being firm with her seven-year-old is key so that he will grow up “to be a fine young man.” She works on being a good role model to her son, showing a father’s strength in the face of adversity and a mother’s gentleness in caring for her child.
Manage your time well
Being her children’s main (and maybe sole) provider, a single mom can mistakenly think that it’s fine to just throw herself at her work to put food on the table. However, doing that is a disservice to one’s children and one’s self. Yes, it’s difficult to be everything for your children, but you can make it work by managing your time well. According to Professor Nina, it is essential for you to be able to do all your responsibilities as a provider, a mother, and a career woman equally well.
Include the father of your children
Being not together with the father of your children does not mean that he has no role in your children’s life. Though the dynamics might be different, your children still need their father, especially if he wants to be a part of their lives. Concepcion Zabala, a financial adviser and a mom of a 17-year-old, says that whatever issues you might have had with each other, your ex-partner still has the right to have a relationship with his children.
Though single parenthood may not be something that women usually envision for themselves growing up, being at peace with the situation can lead one to enjoying parenthood. Among the tips for single moms, one that would resonate with a lot of women would be what Concepcion has to say: “there are no guidelines on how to become an effective parent, especially if you are alone,” but that definitely, the love that you have for your child will make everything all right.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.