As a single dad, it’s all too easy for me to see my parenting weaknesses. I’d already launched my oldest from home and into his first year of college when I became a single parent. Just when I should have been feeling at the top of my game, I was immersed in single-parent problems. I felt like a student all over again as I learned how to parent alone.
I’ve been schooled for sure. I understand the weariness of always being on the clock and always having to be the bad guy. I understand the weight of making every decision and the exhaustion from juggling house, kids, and finances. These years have been filled with adapting and adjusting. So today, I’m sharing 5 ways to overcome common single-parent problems.
1. Problem: Chaos
Admittedly, with no other adult in the house for accountability, it’s easy to let routines slip. Sheer fatigue from handling everything alone or the change that comes from moving children between two homes can make keeping a routine hard.
Solution: Establish a routine.
Homes with routines provide stability and boundaries that children and teens need. Try creating routines for before and after school, dinner, and bedtime to cut down the potential for chaos.
2. Problem: Enforcing a Hard “No”
Sometimes, I just don’t want to be the bad guy again—especially when I’m already worn down from shouldering all decisions and all parenting.
Solution: Develop a spine.
As a single parent, I’ve had to dig deep to make sure each no and yes is firm. Sticking to the rules you’ve established and decisions you’ve made helps your child know the boundaries and provides a stable home.
3. Problem: Grieving Children
Children in a single-parent home are almost always dealing with some level of grief because of separation, divorce, or death.
Solution: Listen and love well.You can’t fix your children’s grief but you can listen, love, and provide a safe place for them.
Let your children talk about their emotions. Gently initiate conversations that will help your children communicate. You can’t fix your children’s grief but you can listen, love, and provide a safe place for them. Books and movies can help you broach questions or issues children may be dealing with. Make sure you allow children to express new stages of grief as they arise.
4. Problem: Missing a Role Model
When I became a single parent, I had teen boys, a teen daughter, a six-year-old, and a four-year-old. No matter how well you parent, a dad can never be their mom. A dad can never be a mom.
Solution: Search out female mentors.
It’s been so important to have women of integrity who can speak to my children as they are becoming young men and women. Look for opportunities for your children to have safe female mentors like their friends’ moms, women in ministry, or relatives.
5. Problem: Overwhelming To-Do List
This may seem counterintuitive, but the busier we feel, the more important it is to intentionally carve out time for fun. With so much to do, it’s tempting just to put your head down and get it done.
Solution: Make time for fun.
Especially if you’re the only parent, make room for enjoying your kids. It can be as simple as leaving jokes in your child’s lunchbox or pressing pause for a surprise afternoon out. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Sound off: What’s your hardest struggle as a single parent?