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Single Mother

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You may be a teenage girl, a successful businesswoman, or a mother of two who just found out she's pregnant again, or for the first time. You may even be a man who is caring for his child(ren) alone. The thing you all have in common right now is that you are single and either pregnant or currently parenting your children.

As a single parent, there are many pressures you feel, from society and your children, to some extent. It is difficult to make boundaries, deal with overload, and care for yourself. It's harder than you thought, but you wouldn't trade this time alone with your children for anything.

In many cases, single parents seem to put more effort into being likeable parents than good parents, which is where several problems arise. In order to be a good parent, you need to establish boundaries with your child(ren). If you leave your children with any doubt that you are the 'boss' in your home, they will more than likely take advantage of that. When they misbehave, you need to be consistent in disciplining them. Be sure that the consequences for their actions are logical.

None of your children should be your best friend. You are a father or mother, and while you may see a lot of you in him or her, you cannot confide in your child. Once you begin to treat your child as a peer, even if you are only fourteen years older or the child is mature for his/her age, you are crossing boundaries. Let your child be a child. Sharing your problems with your child puts a burden on him/her, even if you do not realize it. Let adults be your companions and support, especially those who understand your situation.

As a parent raising your child(ren) on your own, you need a support system. As much as you would like to take care of things on your own, it is important to recognize that raising children can be a difficult task to handle alone. Be an example to your children: show them that there is nothing wrong in asking for help. Joining a single parent support group will give you the opportunity to communicate with several other parents who are in the same situation.

Never feel or let your children make you feel guilty about the situation. Let them see you are doing the best you can as their parent, and remind them that you are a team and need to work together. Don't try to make up for the fact that they live in a single parent home. Just because you are raising your children doesn't mean they are automatically less bright, disadvantaged, or need extra protection from the rest of the world. Help them with homework. Let them help you with household chores. Once you establish some sort of routine with your children, in terms of scheduling baseball practice, dance lessons, library trips, etc., you will be less stressed, which will make your children less stressed. Also, with some sort of schedule to go by, you can arrange for help from neighbors, family members, through carpooling, etc. Be sure you do not initiate, invite, or entertain 'pity parties'.

It is important for you to communicate with your children. Regardless of the stress you feel or undergo, communication is an important factor in the relationship you have with your children. Do not, for any reason, distance yourself from them. Children are often very sensitive to behavior and could misinterpret your actions. You never want your children to feel like your life would be a lot simpler if you didn't have to deal with them.

Give them the love and affection they need, and when you are tired or feel a little stressed, communicate that to them as simply as you can. Rather than say, "Would you guys just quit and give me a break?!? You're driving me up the wall!" You can say, "You know what, guys? Mommy/Daddy's a little tired right now and going to rest for a bit, okay?" Give them a hug or kiss on the forehead, so they know you aren't upset with them. Take a 10 - 20 minute break in your room, bathroom, or any part of your home that you can be a alone to get yourself better composed.

Make yourself available; put their needs above yours. Talk to your children, and let them know that you are always there if they need to talk.

When there is only one parent, children may feel they are not getting the attention they need. Do things with your children: go to the park, go on trips, make chocolate chip cookies together! Show your children affection. Tell them you love them. Figure out what they like to do and try to accommodate that whenever you can, if at all possible.

Don't forget special days. Things like baseball games, recitals, Meet-the-Teacher night, etc. mean a lot to children, especially if you are there. It's impossible to make time for all of these, but it is important to make the effort to make yourself available for these activities as often as possible. You can even make up your own special days! Just be sure you don't break your promises.

For more support, visit: Single Parenting Forums

I'm a single parent but unable to care for my child as I'd like. What should I do?

Okay, so you've tried raising your child by yourself, and you're not able to handle it as well as you were hoping to. It's more than you had prepared yourself for. Welfare seems to be calling your name, but you don't want 'that kind of help'. If this describes you, you should consider adoption.

In many cases, when parents are unable to take care of their children, the state removes them from the care of their parents and places them in foster care. Of the children removed from biological parental care and placed in the foster care system, about 100,000 of them do not have the option of returning home.

If you are unsure of the difference between foster care and adoption, and are leaning toward foster care, here are some things you should know:

Foster care is often a temporary arrangement where a family is paid to care for a child whose parents are unable to care for the child until adoptive parents are found.

Some children are raised in the foster care system when no adoptive parents are found for them. This is considered long-term or permanent foster care.

Some foster parents adopt the children they are caring for once the children are adoptable.

Adoption is a commitment in which a child becomes a permanent, life-long member of a family.

Over 500,000 children and youth are in the United States foster care system, and more than 20% of them are eligible for adoption.

Adoption, unlike foster care, gives you the opportunity to know what kind of family your child will be raised by. In fact, as the birth parent, you may be able to choose the adoptive family for your children. If you choose open adoption, you will still be allowed to be involved in your children's lives. Choosing this route keeps you in charge, to some extent, and you aren't left wondering what the state has done with your child(ren), as you would have been involved in the placement. For more single parenting information, see the Single Parenting Articles

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