Positive Parenting: Tips for Single Parents (by Daniel Sherwin)

I am so happy to host my friend Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo again. Daniel provides so many practical, positive tips to navigate the world of (single) parenting as he figures it out with his two kids. Although I'm not a single parent, I love reading his advice and apply his positive approaches to my parenting style. Enjoy the article, and check him out at dadsolo.com

"Single parenting is often considered a worst-case scenario for raising children. The image of the beleaguered single parent trying to make ends meet and keep kids in line is assumed to be the norm rather than the exception. Single moms and dads face a lot of challenges just trying to be effective parents; they have to keep pace at work, make sure the kids are getting homework done each night, put healthy meals on the table, and help their children deal with the conflicts that seem to crop up every couple days. Discipline is one of the most difficult situations for single parents, especially if the other parent was the primary disciplinarian. Feelings of guilt can arise when you have to deal sternly with kids who may still be adjusting to a strange new living situation. Some parents overcompensate by being too lenient and indulgent. 

But it’s important to maintain a consistent approach with your children, and bear in mind that discipline doesn’t have to be overly harsh or physical. Positive parentingis defined as a way of applying discipline without doing lasting emotional or psychological damage, and understanding that the most positive parenting is that which teaches children to have self-control. 

Quality time

One of the most positive things any parent can do for a child is to spend quality time together. This can be very difficult since single parents often have so little leisure time, but it’s important because quality timeis how special bonds are built between parent and child. In many cases, being a single parent can actually make it easier for you to bond with your kids - it’s just you and your children. Try setting aside at least an hour each day to chat, play a game, or read a book together before bedtime. 

If your kid wants to show you something he’s accomplished at school, don’t dismiss it or put him off with an, “I’m-too-busy-right-now” response. It only takes a couple of minutes to let your child know he has your full attention and that you’re proud of him. Look for activities you can both enjoy, such as rockhounding, collecting rocks and mineral specimens, a “great way to get your kids excited about science. It helps them understand basic concepts (like observation, examination, and cause and effect) in a more tangible way.

Clear communication

Make sure your expectations are clearly communicated, that your kids understand why they’re being asked to do it, and what the consequences will be if they misbehave. Rather than getting into an irrational and angry exchange with your kids when they step out of line, try to make them understand that they’re being illogical or reasonable. Don’t ignore their thoughts and feelings even if they make no sense - listening is one of the most important skills any parent can have. It shows that you care.

Take a deep breath

Single parents face a lot of pressure, and it can be too easy to take it out on your kids. When you become angry, pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and engage your mind before lashing out. Remember, that you’re modeling behavior for your children every moment of the day. If you respond to frustration with emotional displays, your kids will wonder why they should control their temper. Bear in mind that kids learn to respond to situations by watching you. 

Educational support

If you’re having a hard time connecting with your kids, seek out educational support opportunities in your community. You can also gain valuable information, tips, and solutions to common problems from onlinesources if you don’t have time to attend a class or support group.   

Communication and understanding

Parenting is a difficult job, whether you’re doing it alone or sharing the load with a partner. Single parenting can be a rewarding journey in which you and your children grow and learn together. Following the principles of positive parenting can make it easier for you and your kids by fostering communication and mutual emotional understanding."

Thanks Daniel!