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Parenting Articles about Single Parents

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Is Your Child Responsible Enough to be Home Alone? Dos and Don'ts for Parents

Is Your Child Responsible Enough to be Home Alone? Dos and Don'ts for Parents

Many parents are at a loss for what to do with their older children during the summer months – they may get the summer off, but you probably don’t. That leaves a whole chunk of time to fill each day. How do you know if your child is responsible enough to be left home alone? What if you know he isn’t, but he won’t stop begging to be in charge of his own schedule this summer?

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5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

Watching my child struggle without stepping in to “fix” things for him was one of the hardest things I’ve personally experienced as a mom, even though I knew it was the best thing for him. And the truth is, from the very beginning, being a mother is a balance of taking care of your kids while letting them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Your role of simply loving and protecting your baby from pain and discomfort changes to one of accepting that your child or teen will need to experience natural consequences for his or her actions. The hard part (for them and for us!) is that these consequences almost always include some discomfort, disappointment or pain.

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Positive Parenting: 5 Rules to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

Positive Parenting: 5 Rules to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

Do your kids drive you crazy? If you were asked to describe them, after saying, He's a good kid, but... would you use words like “defiant,” “whiny,” “unmotivated,” “disrespectful,” “angry,” or “demanding,” with a few positives sprinkled in? If the negatives loom larger in your mind than the positives, the first thing to realize is that this is natural. We parents are human after all, which means we tend to look for what’s wrong with our offspring so that we can focus on what we should “fix” in them. Somehow this calms us down; we believe we are improving their chances of long-term survival in an often difficult world.

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Perfect Parents Donít Exist: Forgive Yourself For These 6 Parenting Mistakes

Perfect Parents Dont Exist: Forgive Yourself For These 6 Parenting Mistakes

Guilt and parenthood just seem to go together. Maybe you lost control and screamed at your child today, or perhaps you’re struggling to give your kids enough—or you might be worrying that you’re doing too much. Whatever the cause, most parents experience guilt regularly. I’ve talked with so many people who were beating themselves up over something they’d done, sure they’d failed as a parent. But as James Lehman said, “It’s not about blame or fault; it’s about taking responsibility.”

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The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

There’s a famous quote about Ginger Rogers that says, “She did everything that Fred Astaire did, only backwards.” In some ways, being a single parent is similar, except you’re doing everything other parents do, onlysolo.

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Flying Solo: Six Ways to Soar as a Single Parent

Flying Solo: Six Ways to Soar as a Single Parent

Jill is a single mom of a nine-year-old daughter, whom she’s been raising by herself since Haley was an infant. “The hardest part about being a single parent is having no one else there when Haley acts up. It’s all me. She doesn’t listen to me, and then I just don’t know what to do. I’m really getting anxious about her teenage years. I’m not sure if I can keep her on track by myself, she’s so willful.”

Jill is far from being alone. Single parenting is one of the toughest jobs on the planet, yet more than 50 percent of households in America are headed by just one parent. Much of the time that parent is working full-time and trying to maintain the home, in addition to everything that comes with raising a child. To make matters worse, often single moms and dads, like Jill, report feeling as if their children aren’t listening to them or following family rules. Coupled with the guilt that many single parents feel, this can be a one-two punch to the faith you have in the job you’re doing as you raise your kids on your own. So what can you do to maintain confidence in yourself and peace in your home?

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You Can Make Time for Yourself

Blogger I am the type of person that wants it all, and I want it all NOW. This mentality makes me feel like Iím perpetually chasing a bus I cannot catch, no matter how fast I sprint.† Some days, it feels like an enormous task to just get everyone fed and into bed at the end of the day! As parents, we have a huge weight on our shoulders every single day.† I know you are busy. I get that you are often overwhelmed. I can appreciate that you just want a hammock somewhere on quiet beach. I do, too. But, what are you doing these days just for you? To take care of yourself?† To climb into that hammock, so to speak?† Whenís the last time you got off the merry-go-round that is your life and made time for yourself? Think thatís impossible? Iím here to tell you itís not. Back when my boys were in preschool, I knew I needed something more. I had a full-time job in advertising, a more than full-time job raising my sons alone and a house with a yard to maintain, but my soul yearned for more than this. After leafing through a catalog of writing classes one day, I later found that I just could not drop the fantasy of signing up for something. The class I wanted to take met on Monday nights across town for six weeks. The boysí dad was around, but I knew I could not count on him to commit to six consecutive Monday nights, so I began to problem-solve. Now, asking for huge favors is very difficult for me; yet I knew if I didnít honor this yearning in me, I would be snuffing out a portion of my heart.† Across the street lived a young couple with two boys. Theyíre a fantastic family, and we adults enjoyed hanging out while the boys played.† So I summoned up some courage and went to talk to my neighbors about a barter system of sorts. Would they be open to watching my boys those Monday nights in exchange for me babysitting their kids? They said yes, they were happy to help, not a problem. What a relief! I still remember the feeling of driving to the class each week, feeling completely liberated and energized. My boys had a complete blast being at the neighborís and I, in turn, did babysit for them (note: spending an evening with four boys under the age of six is perhaps one of my biggest accomplishments thus far). The lift I received from my writing class gave me a newfound energy and zest for life. I loved using my brain in a different way from my 9 to 5 job; and because I was in class learning something Iím passionate about, the energy snowballed into other areas of my life. I was able to get up super early to complete my weekly writing assignments. I began to observe daily life more thoroughly, realizing that writing material was everywhere. So brainstorm some options about what you could do for yourself and how to make the time to do it. What matters to you?† Who may be able and willing to help you? Do you dream of being home alone with your sketch pad? Rock climbing? Maybe an hour walking around a lake alone sounds amazing.† Realize there may be sacrifices.† And if itís hard to ask for help, you are going to find yourself dancing in the ďuncomfortable zoneĒ for a bit. Thatís ok, thatís how we stretch and grow.† Remember, you are doing the asking; itís up to the other person to decide if they need to say no. Keep in mind that simple things have huge benefits.† Yes, there are some seasons of life when your passions really do need to take a backseat.† But watch out for the ďbusy-nessĒ trap!† It can make you feel like you couldnít possibly take time to do something for yourself, ever.† Start making time in your life for your passions and hobbies, and you, too, will quickly feel the rewards and benefits. Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that long and winding road. Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.
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Does My Child Need To See A Therapist?

Blogger Your seven-year-old son, Justin, is so embarrassing.† He approaches adults and asks personal questions that seem inappropriate.† He seems to have no sense of shame, and little interest in conforming to social norms.† You cringe at the thought of taking him to family affairs and public events, where you never know what kind of catastrophe might transpire.† And when you broach the topic, he easily dismisses it and hardly makes eye contact.† You have already heard dubious murmurs regarding your parenting capabilities on several occasions, causing you to feel completely misunderstood.† All this despite the parenting lectures you invested in! Julio, who has just turned six, has been turning your life upside down for as long as you can remember.†† His explosive outbursts are both unpredictable and utterly irrational.† You were convinced that his rigid inflexibility was just an extension of his ďterrible twos,Ē, but he has since doubled in age and his explosions have only increased in duration and frequency. Everyone seems to adore Laura, a lovely, compliant eleven-year-old.† But you are worried that she seems to have little drive and never takes initiative.† She gives up easily and just doesnít seem to have many interests.† When she does get excited and begins a project, she rarely completes it. And Sean, who is seven, is so active and aggressive that you are scared to leave him in the playground without constant supervision.† And even that doesnít seem to stop neighbors from complaining about him.† Although Seanís teachers and the principal are polite at PTA, the looks on their faces imply what the future will look like as Sean journeys through his school years. Justin, Julio, Laura and Seanís parents are worried about their children.† Are these normal behaviors?† Will they ďoutgrowĒ them, or should the parents take action? Most of you reading these short vignettes can probably identify a child you know as closely meeting one of these descriptions.† Do these children need to see a therapist?† How would therapy benefit these children? Let us first identify the purpose of psychotherapy. To Love and To Work When I began my career as a Clinical Social Worker, a typical comment I would hear from friends was that they believed most people could benefit from psychotherapy.† But what percentage of people who say this actually step up to the plate and attend weekly sessions?† In a groundbreaking 2004 survey, a Harris poll showed that 27% of people in the U.S. received psychotherapy during that era.† That survey also concluded that only one in three people who needed psychological treatment was receiving it.† So, you may ask, where is the other 54%? Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, defined mental health as the ability ďto love and to work.Ē† In simple terms, a personís mental health is limited when it gets in the way of his regular ability to function and to have relationships with others.† The purpose of psychotherapy is to help the consumer attain those two objectives.† This can be accomplished through many forms of therapy, with each therapist offering his own style and each consumer responding in his own way. That said, in determining whether to take your child for an assessment, the parents should initially look at three factors: 1) The parent(s), 2) The child, and 3) The parent-child.
  • The parent: Are you the type to become easily alarmed or overly reactive?† Be mindful that you are not reacting simply because your child is not perfect.† Sometimes, children evoke feelings in a parent that might be a result of the parentís own unresolved issues.† In that case, it is really the parent who needs therapy.
  • The child: The next step is to evaluate whether the childís issue is significant enough to require psychotherapeutic services.† It is strictly this category that would deem the child fit for psychotherapy.† Here is a partial list of issues that might be assisted by working with a mental health professional:
    • learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
    • behavioral problems (such as excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting or eating disorders)
    • a significant drop in grades, particularly if your child normally maintains high grades
    • episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression
    • social withdrawal or isolation
    • being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
    • decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
    • overly aggressive behavior
    • sudden changes in appetite
    • insomnia or increased sleepiness
    • mood swings (e.g., happy one minute, upset the next)
    • development of, or an increase in, physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
    • management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
    • problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
    • bereavement issues
    • therapy following physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
  • The parent-child:† Whether the childís issue stems from a poor attachment or not, it can often be helped through an enhanced parent-child relationship.† This approach offers the parents tools to regularly help their child develop his lagging skills in his natural environment.† This can be done in individual or family counseling.
Finding a Therapist If you suspect that your child can benefit from ongoing therapy, it is a good idea to determine who might be the best fit for her or him.† For example, do you or your child have a preference for a male or female therapist?† Younger, older or middle age?† Would you prefer that a potential therapist has experience working with a similar family situation (such as a blended family or foster family), or a diagnosis?† Remember, choosing a therapist is always a risk, since the results can be relative and subjective.† There are numerous modalities† that therapists use to work with children and each one can be successful in its own right.† Sometimes it can take a few appointments, or meeting with multiple therapists, before you can determine whether that specific counselor will be a good fit for you, your child, and/or your family. Remember, these are just a few guidelines toward finding a good match.† Ideally, a referral from a friend or family member can often provide you with the most vital information when seeking a quality therapist.† Your child's pediatrician or primary care doctor might be an additional source of information, or referrals to other local professionals.† Another resource which can be useful in finding a counselor or therapist is the 211 Helpline, which you can contact at 1-800-273-6222 or by logging on to www.211.org in the US.† In Canada, you can reach the 211 Helpine by calling 1-800-836-3238 or by visiting www.211.ca Moshe Norman, MSW LCSW is a child and family therapist in Lakewood, NJ.† He can be reached at mnormanlcsw@gmail.com or at moshenorman.com

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Stop the Stereotyping

Blogger For some single parents, the weight of the world often sits squarely on our shoulders. We are responsible for an incredible amount of things, duties, and actions. Itís not enough to pay the mortgage, be smart when making a purchase and keep the floors relatively clean Ė we are also responsible for our children. Now this isnít exactly a newsflash, but letís look at it a step further. Letís say your child is in elementary school and you get a call from his teacher. Heís been acting up in class, not listening to her and disrupting the daily flow. How do you feel? I will tell you Iíve received those calls Ė more than a few times. I immediately felt like a balloon that had lost its air. My sonís misbehavior felt like my failure. Obviously I hadnít taught him proper behavior, or how to control his impulses. I would ruminate over this situation until I wore a groove of negative self-talk into my brain. As single parents, we become gun shy whenever someone tells us our child misbehaved. Itís as though huge neon arrows are pointed at us so the world can know our kid messed up; therefore, we did too. Maybe married parents feel this way too, I donít know. But I do know this. There are so many negative assumptions and stereotypes about single parenting. For example, the term broken home.Ē That one makes me cringe. My home is not broken; it just looks different from others. Anyway, my mission as I started this solo mom journey was to not be that stereotype. I shunned it and did what I could to prevent anyone from labeling my sons or me. Now sometimes thereís just no way around it. People are going to assume and judge and we just need to hold our heads high and keep living. But the truth is, every time something happens that has to do with our child misbehaving, it knocks the wind out of our sails. Now that my sons are on the verge of young adulthood, I donít get those phone calls anymore (thank goodness, as it would mean bigger issues). I am proud of the young men my boys have become and the paths they are forging into the world. But every once in awhile, ghosts from the past show up like a monster behind the door at a haunted house. Case in point Ė I was at a graduation party with my best friend and fellow single parent of boys. We were enjoying the celebration along with some cake when our kidsí youth pastor arrived. Heís a wonderful person and really good with youth and loving them up. We were reminiscing, as you do at these types of events and he began telling stories about our sons with a huge smile on his face. However, these stories all had the same theme Ė they were all about how our sons had screwed up , how they didnít follow rules and got caught.† I felt the oxygen begin to leave the room little by little with each story, until I found myself highly irritated and no longer interested in graduation cake. My best friend and I talked about this afterwards; why were only the negative stories told? Collectively we have four sons and yet we did not hear any good stories or positive comments about any of them. While our boys are certainly not perfect, they are good people and we are incredibly proud of them. Certainly there are plenty of encouraging stories that could have been told about them, because letís face it: every parent shines when their child is complimented. Heck, hearing positive things about our kids can put enough fuel in our tank to last for miles. But since that didnít happen, and even though our boys had grown past those moments, my friend and I both felt those old familiar biting feelings of failure. We didnít do enough, we werenít good enough moms, and our kids came from a broken home. Do you share these feelings? How do you handle them? Hereís my request for today:† in the next few days, letís all encourage other parents by telling them something we love and admire about their kids. Or how much we respect the parents for the thankless work they do raising children. From now on, letís tell only positive stories. Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that long and winding road. Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.
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Summertime and the Living Aint Easy for Single Parents

Blogger Who doesnít love summer? Well, for many reasons, single parents. First of all, itís a financial minefield. With school out thereís full time daycare to pay for and itís not just a tiny bump; itís a major increase in what is likely already a super tight budget. And then there are all the enriching camps and field trips.† You want your child to experience learning new skills and making friends with kids outside of the familiar zone, along with beading bracelets, singing songs and horseback riding. But wow, all of that comes with a hefty price tag. If your kids are older and able to stay at home that solves the daycare issue, but then youíre presented with a whole new line of issues. What will your kids do all day, home alone? Will it be safe? Will they be getting themselves into trouble? And letís not forget how much your grocery bill will increase as they raid the cabinets all afternoon (and late evening), as well as the rise in your utility bills from having the AC on all day (as well as electronics, sucking up electricity). As if this wasnít enough, all around you it will feel like every other family is going on vacation Ė to their cabin, to visit the nationís capital, or to see the Grand Canyon. Wanting to include you in the conversation, they will ask, ďWhere are you going on vacation this summer?Ē †To that I say, hold your head up high and declare, ďWe are planning an amazing staycation!Ē I respect and admire all of you. Your day is long, your to-do list even longer. So for today, I salute you: To all of the working single parents (I realize thatís redundant, all parents are working parents), I respect you. I know the daily grind you face Ė the one that never, ever lets up. I know that when you head to your car in the morning with the promise of a gorgeous day on the horizon Ė I know you really want to dump the kids off at camp and just goof off all day. So I say, make it happen! Schedule a day off alone.† Take the kids to daycare, or somewhere, and just enjoy sitting on a patio, sipping coffee and reveling in the quiet. At that moment, no one needs you! Can you imagine how energized you will feel from that? Schedule your day off today. To all of the work-from-home single parents: you have your own special brand of challenge, as you are likely working from a home office and maybe have the kids underfoot. Thereís not a real separation of work and home life, so you need to be extra diligent to create a boundary between the two. It can be a lonely existence, working from home, so be sure to schedule in some play dates or even trade off babysitting with other parents so you can get some crucial alone time. To all of the working single parents who also attend school: can you say sleep-deprived? As if parenting and working werenít exhausting enough, youíre also the college student, racking up credits while you write papers and complete lab reports; all in an effort to finally secure that degree that promises higher pay, better benefits and a more rewarding career. Do me a favor; pat yourself on the back with gusto. You are killing it! And you canít see it now, but when your kids are all grown-up, they will say how incredible you are to have done all of that. I will leave you with this. Your life is really tough right now, but letís be honest Ė everyone has challenges, tragedies and trials. Instead of focusing on your hardships and exhausting life, put your energy towards creating a positive attitude and being the best parent you can. Seek help from others when the going gets too rough and take some time to enjoy the journey Ė and your summer! Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that long and winding road. Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.
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My Secret Weapon as a Single Parent: When I Changed My Viewpoint, I Changed My Life

Blogger Itís a Monday night and youíre sorting clean socks Ė a task that seems to have no end.† How can there be so much laundry all of the time? You're tired from a weekend that revolved around your kidsí activities, but instead of relaxing with a Netflix binge marathon and buttered popcorn, you are washing baseball jerseys so your daughter will have a clean uniform for tomorrowís game. Letís just be clear on something: chores and errands? They will never, ever end. They are embedded into our daily life whether we are happy about it or not. So why donít we try approaching the drudgery of grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank, and vacuuming with a new outlook?
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From the Single Parent Trenches: How This Divorced Mom Puts the Self in Self-Care

Blogger Does this sound familiar? Itís Sunday night, and your kids are finally, finally in bed. As you walk down the hall, you think, ďWhere the deuce did my weekend go?Ē even though you know exactly where it went: cheering on your†children in soccer, homework monitoring, grocery shopping, two Target runs, cleaning the bathroom, talking to your mother (three times), refereeing fights between your kids, mowing the lawn, monitoring baths. And that was just Saturday. Being a single parent Ė itís not for the weak of heart.† At the end of the day, thereís almost always nothing left for you. Or is there?
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Have I Been Replaced? Divorce and the Single Parent

Parent Blogger How do you react when you discover that your children are spending a lot of time with your ex-wifeís new boyfriend? SingleDad.com founder, RJ Jaramillo, shares his firsthand experiences. Most newly divorced men come to the realization that their new life as a divorced dad comes with a consequence: you and your ex-wife will move on and begin new relationships. In this case, I am talking about my own personal experience and how I felt like I was being replaced by my ex-wifeís boyfriend.† Learn from my experience and pick up a few tips from suggestions below on how to overcome a little anxiety and realize that your children are better off by having your love and support in their new environment.
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A Back-to-School Checklist for the Single Parent

Parent Blogger Yes, it is time to get our kids back on a school schedule. My blog post might just be a reminder for some, but it could be a very important checklist for the new single parent. With that in mind, I've gathered a lot of great suggestions from other single parents who have been there before, and know what works.
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