5 Things Some Single Parents Do that make us All Look Bad
Let’s face it, being a single parent is not the easiest job in the world; and for some it’s overwhelming. What makes matters worse is that single parents are portrayed in the media as being uneducated, lazy and neglectful. Some studies even suggest that single parents are raising the next crop of prison inmates. Because of the negative public image that single parents and their children must overcome, it is frustrating when some single parents do things that make us all look bad. If you’re reading Single Parent advice websites like this one, you’re probably not ‘one of those’ single parents. If you know ‘one of those’ single parents, maybe you can tactfully send them this list.
1. You Send your Kids to School Dirty
Ask any teacher what their pet peeves are when it comes to parents, and right at the top is children who show up to school in dirty clothes and/or in need of a bath. I know that it isn’t just single parents that are guilty of this, but no matter how stretched you are as a single parent, make sure your children go to school clean. It helps your child get viewed in a positive way. It helps your child’s self-esteem. And it reflects well on you, as a single parent which, in turn helps all single parents.
2. You Haven’t Given Your Children Structure
If this doesn’t happen early, good luck trying to reign in your middle or high-schooler. Children thrive on structure. You don’t have to be a drill sergeant but if you have to be the mom and the dad, you’re going to have to face the fact that you need to be loving but firm. Let your children know who the parent is; what the rules are, and why they are important. And let them know what the consequences are if those rules are broken. If you’re consistent, you’ll be surprised how quickly your children willingly stay within the boundaries you’ve set. And by the time your children reach middle school, they will already have these good habits instilled in them.
3. You Turn your Child Against the Other Parent
I can hear some single parents saying, ‘I didn’t turn my child against their other parent; the other parent did it by________________’ (fill in the blank). Whether your child’s other parent is involved and paying child support, or not involved at all; your child is still genetically half of that person. No matter how horrible the other parent is to you, or even your child, you can still refrain from speaking badly. You can teach your child that it’s okay to love the other parent but hate their behavior. Why would you want to do this? Because your child’s emotional health and self esteem depend on it. Growing up knowing that you come from two ‘good’ parents; even if one of those parents is making really bad choices right now, helps kids emotionally. A child who is brought up thinking that one half of the gene pool that created him/her is ‘bad’, can’t help but be convinced that part of that ‘bad’ is inside of them. And that causes problems later on.
4. You Burden Your Child with Your Problems
One of the best things that you can do for your child is to let them know that they don’t have to worry. Sure there will be problems. Maybe the car breaks down and you don’t know how you’re going to manage. Or maybe you don’t know how you’re going to come up with the rent money this month. Instead of burdening your child by telling them you don’t have a clue what you’ll do, they need to hear that, no matter what, you are the parent and you will take care of them. Children need a sense that someone is steering the boat and is taking responsibility. Children are children, and burdening them with adult issues forces them to worry about things that they’re not mature enough to handle. If you love your children, you’ll unload on an adult friend; that’s what they’re for.
5. Your Issues have you Dragging your Children through Multiple Bad Relationships
If you’ve had a messed up childhood and never got counseling for it, chances are you’re still messed up and you’re passing this ‘messed-upness’ onto your children. You love your kids. You don’t want to set them up for a lifetime of low self-esteem and broken relationships with all the wrong people. So before you begin that next screwed-up relationship, go get help. If not for you; for your kids.
There’s a lot of bad press out there about single parents and the effects of single parenting on children. And while many of us didn’t choose single parenting, it was thrust upon us, we can still be smart single parents and prove the ‘experts’ wrong.