Last time we discussed the issues surrounding baby daddy/baby mama drama and I spoke about some ways to resolve the drama and issues that the adults have. In this issue, I would like to discuss the children and how they fare in a situation where mommy and daddy are no longer together. Whether you are a single mom or a single dad, you and your children have a special relationship that can’t be understood by anyone who hasn’t experienced it for themselves.
As a product of a single parent home as well as being a single parent myself, I have experienced both sides of the relationship. In my previous article, I pointed out that the welfare of the children is the most important factor to consider when making decisions and when acting or reacting to the decisions of your co-parent. Now let’s look a little deeper into the relationship that you and your child have. Sometimes as single parents, we can get so wrapped up into making things a certain way for our children, that we lose sight of the fact that in order for us to be the best parents we can be, we have to take care of ourselves and really take the time to “be” good parents and role models for our children.
Here are some examples of ways that you can take better care of yourself in order to be the best parent that you can be and to show your children how to grow into responsible well rounded adults.
1. Grooming. I know it seems simple enough but single parents often forego the luxury of making themselves look good so that their children can have the best of the best. While there is nothing wrong with keeping your children looking nice, it is not wise to spend beyond your means and stop taking care of yourselves just to do so. You can rotate buying nice things for your children and yourself. If your shoes have to come from a discount store because your child wants the latest sneaker, then next time, let your shoes come from a store where you can get a quality pair of shoes that won’t have to be replaced after only a few wears. Same goes for clothing and hairstyling. Let your child see that while you make sacrifices so that they can look good, that you also care enough about yourself to want to look and feel your best.
2. Quality Time. Sometimes you just need quality time to yourself. Your children do to. Just imagine how much they are driving you crazy while being cooped up in the house with you. You drive them just as crazy. Take advantage when an opportunity presents itself for you to have some time away from the kids. Start taking grandparents, relatives, and even friends up on their offers to keep the children or to take them off your hands sometimes. If you and your child are comfortable with the person and you are sure that your children will be safe, then let them go. Teach them that while you do love and adore them, that you have an identity of your very own. This will also allow them to begin to form their own identity. When they can build memories and experiences where they didn’t have to hold mommy or daddy’s hand the whole time, it gives them room to grow and something to look forward to.
3. Solid Ground. Have some principles. Don’t get caught up in trying to be the good parent with your kids. Children are smart and it seems with every passing generation, children are getting smarter and smarter. Because children are so smart, they know exactly how to get the most and the best out of their parents. When the kids come back from your co-parent’s home and they tell you of all the sweets they ate, and how late they stayed up and all the big fun they had, enjoy it and be glad that they were wired and hyped up on sugar elsewhere. Let them have that but keep some guidelines in your home for your children to grow up with. Having a solid foundation to build upon teaches your children about responsibility. They will appreciate you for it in the long run. Let’s face it, we all grow up sometime and we get to that point when we begin to sound like our own parents or grandparents and we are glad that we paid attention to the rules that they set forth for us to live by. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
4. Variety makes great memories. Throw some variety into your life. Don’t get caught up into the grind of life so much that you don’t take the time to enjoy your child and have them enjoy you too. Make silly faces, take your kids to the park and play “with” them instead of reading a book. Go to the museum and parades. Check out your local festivals. Remember how it was when you were a kid. What were your fondest memories? Are you giving your child memories like that? Do things with your child that will stand out in their minds when they are old. Take lots of pictures and make scrapbooks or picture DVD’s so that your children will grow up knowing that while they were living in a single parent home, there was no lack of love and attention.
5. Let them grow. As parents, it is natural to want to protect your children from ever being hurt, either physically or emotionally. Unfortunately, we can’t always do that. When it comes to allowing your child to grow up emotionally, only you can tell when your child is ready to learn some of the ugly truths about life. While it may be easier for you to always “cover” for your co-parent when they don’t come through for the children, it is not necessarily your responsibility to do so. If your co-parent constantly disappoints your child by making promises that never come true or by putting other people or things ahead of the children, then you have to let your child see this on their own. You don’t need to go out of your way to point anything out to your children When they begin to see that their parent who they thought was great for letting them eat ice cream late at night, or for letting them eat out three times a day, really doesn’t come through in times that it matters, you just need to let them process it on their own and support them through it. You don’t need to add your two cents but you should be able to honestly answer any questions or concerns they have.
Once you get the hang of living a life with your children and not living your life through or for your children, you will begin to see that your children appreciate you and the times you spend together and you will also begin to appreciate them more and take them for granted less. When you can actually get the opportunity to miss their little faces because you let them go to a sleepover with their friends, you will look at them differently. Once you can relax into just being mommy or daddy and let go of trying to be supermom or super dad, you can begin to enjoy life and show your children how to do the same. Remember that you are building your child’s memory. Every day that they spend with you will be a memory that may come to mind throughout the rest of their lives. Try your best to make every moment the best.