Single does not equate to alone
Parenting is one of the most daunting tasks in the world. As parents, we are responsible for another human being while we are still trying to figure out life for ourselves. And if one has to tackle parenting on ones own, the situation gets even more overwhelming.
According to census data, there is a 39% increase in the number of single women in India, the numbers rising from 51.2 million in 2001 to 71.4 million in 2011.
This includes widows, divorcees and unmarried women, and those deserted by husbands. Many of these women are also raising children on their own.
I became a single mother post my divorce about ten years ago. At that time my child was merely six years old. In the last decade, I have been on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride as a single mother and have picked up a few lessons on the way.
Here are the top 4 tips on managing life as a single mother.
#1 Do Not Alienate Your Ex: He may not have been a great husband, but he would well be a fantastic father. Give him that opportunity. Don’t let the father-child relationship be dictated by court regulations and schedules visits. Find a way to involve him in your child’s day-to-day routine. And mark out key occasions like your child’s birthday or PTA meetings that you spend together as a family.
#2 It Takes A Village: Even married couples need help from the extended ‘village’ to raise a child. Parents, in-laws, friends, neighbours. As a single parent, you will need such support even more. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It is very important to have a school-mommy group of friends who can cover you for pick-ups, drop-offs and playdates. You can always return the favour and look after their kids when they have a date night with their husbands.
#3 Your Child Cannot Be Your Sounding Board: No matter the child’s age, do not vent to them. Your child can be your friend and you can do fun activities to together. But do not vent when it comes to your challenges as a single parent or your relationship with your ex. Talking to a counsellor is a good idea. Forget about social stigma. Or at the least, find a friend or a family member you can confide in.
#4 Find The Little Girl Inside You: Overtime she probably got lost in the demands of her kids. In the commands of her husband. In the complaints of her in-laws. In the expectations of her boss. In the commitments of her family. In the claims of her career. She is lost perhaps in the supermarket aisles. In the train queues. In the elevator lobbies. In the PTA meets. In the carpools. In the soccer matches. I urge you to find her inside of you and coax her out to live the dreams that she had set for herself.
After all, you need to find happiness within yourself, to raise a well-round child.
Marriage may be over, parenting isn't.