For most of my first marriage, I believed in the lie that if I ever became a single mother, it would negatively affect my children, or that it would be so difficult for me that I couldn’t handle it. Because of this, I have forgiven things that most people would never dream of forgetting. But one day when our youngest was only 6 months old, I found out that my then husband was (still) having an affair and something snapped inside me. I kicked him out of the house and never looked back.
Kelly Clarkson decided to divorce for the benefit of her children after reading this book
A few months and several thousand dollars later, I learned that money can indeed buy happiness – if it is spent on your freedom through a good divorce lawyer. While my children and I really thrived when we were out of this toxic environment, I will attest that single motherhood was as difficult as I feared it would be. However, I was one of the lucky ones. I had an incredible community of people who took care of me and my children. Both my friends and family provided everything from babysitting and hot meals to a shoulder to cry on and shelter if I ever needed them.
And while those kindnesses will always mean more to me than I can ever put into words, it wasn’t the things that made my life easier that were most helpful. The most important and meaningful support I received was what I needed most: these four things that made my children’s life easier.
1. Speak positively about non-nuclear families in front of your own children
When talking about other families please remember: the way you talk about divorced parents, single mothers, etc. in front of your own children is guaranteed to affect the way your children feel about the kids in the playground talking about families and at school. We all know that their peers have a huge impact on how children think of themselves. Speaking kindly at home will help your child speak kindly and can make a huge difference to a child who is going through a difficult time.
2. Use inclusive language
We all said something like, “Where are your parents?” or “You have to ask your mom and dad,” right? While these phrases may seem responsible and innocuous, consider replacing “parents” with “adults” or “adults”.
Without realizing it, using “mom and dad” can make a child feel abnormal or prevent them from making your point because they are too focused on a painful situation at home. Instead, the use of inclusive language prevents uncomfortable moments of friction and allows the children to focus on a more important message.
3. Make no assumptions about the involvement of the other parent
There is a common myth that single parents have a positive relationship with their ex because they can only focus on the children after the relationship. If that applied to all decoupled parents, that would be wonderful. However, the reality is that this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, these relationships are often incredibly challenging and sometimes even characterized by physical or emotional violence. Worse still, not all parents are good parents to their child. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are not making positive or negative assumptions about the involvement of the other parent. It can actually be something that is causing the child a lot of pain.
Here’s an example: suppose you know that a child in your child’s class just won first prize at an art show. They also know that she has divorced parents and usually only sees her father. If you said to her, “I bet your mom and dad are so proud of you! Maybe you can all go out and party with an ice cream! ”That may seem nice, but you may remind the child that they have barely seen their mother for the past six months and have no idea why. Can you imagine someone bringing up something so terribly painful in a casual conversation? It is important to focus on the positive things in the life of a child and the parents in front of you.
On the flip side, if you find that the other parent is not really involved, not paying child support, or otherwise misbehaving, it is best not to discuss this in front of the child. As adults, we know that adult bad behavior is not a reflection of the child, but the sad reality is that children don’t always feel that way.
4. Offer the right kind of encouragement and support
One of the hardest things about being a single parent is that you have to be everything to your child. It takes an incredible amount of energy, and when people make comments that open old wounds or force someone to legitimize their family situation, it is incredibly exhausting. Ultimately, this costs energy and can be extremely hurtful, especially when brought up in front of the children.
On the other hand, you can also use the power of words to build single parents. Think about how you will feel when your partner tells you how good you are. Single mothers and fathers rarely get this, so if you can, give a kind word. I will share some examples.
Things You Should Never Say To A Single Parent:
“I have no idea how you do this.”
“You are so lucky to get a break from your kids.”
“Do not worry; I am sure you will find someone who can help you with the children. “
“I wonder if you and her father could ever get back together?”
“My husband travels a lot for work, so I’m basically a single mother too.”
“Children really need both parents.”
Things To Say To A Single Parent:
“I can see how hard you work for your children. If they don’t already, they will see how strong you are. “
“I love to see your kids smile at you.”
“You’re doing a great job.”
“You teach your children such important lessons.”
“It really inspires me to see how much you love your children.”
If you know a single parent in your life please be patient with them and know that they are likely to be working overtime to try to keep their heads above water. If you see them struggling, it’s likely because they need a little extra support. Offering physical help is incredibly nice and always helpful, but at least keep these things in mind so that you can support them and their children emotionally.
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