My best friend recently moved back to London with her two little ones from Memphis where she had gone five years earlier, fallen in love and had children. When people hear her story, they usually have a sympathetic expression on their faces. Why? Because she is raising her children as a single parent, without any emotional support from her ex partner. But has it dampened her spirits? Not in the least.
Let’s admit it, raising two children alone is no cakewalk, especially in a place like London. But if met with that fate, one is left with only two choices – a) crib, cry and create an unhealthy atmosphere for the children to grow up in. Or, b) do as my friend did – embrace the situation, tighten your sash and tell yourself, “This is going to be terribly difficult but we will make it happen.”
I have been keeping a close watch on her and these are a few things I have learnt from her that I think every parent can benefit from:
Whatever be the situation, she ALWAYS puts her children ahead of herself. While some new age mums might tut-tut and call this granny advice, a single parent would know that the onus of bringing up the children right lies squarely on their shoulders and their shoulders alone. “I can’t concentrate on my life if I have a nagging doubt that what I am doing is not making my children 100% safe and secure.” Work is secondary, she says. And so is sleep if one of them is sick.
Talk to your kids everyday
As a busy working single mother, you might think giving a good night kiss is good enough. After all, you try to do things together over the weekends. However, successful parents would beg to differ. “Even if you are dying to hit the sack, even if you are dying to jump into the tub, take 10 minutes and talk to them,” she says. Encourage them to bare their hearts; they need to feel there is someone to listen to them and their issues always.
Don’t expect your kids to pick up their real-life lessons from schools or from what you preach. Unless you show them the way, unless you practice what you are preaching, your efforts will bear no fruits. Be accepting of people and their differences, be honest, be polite, listen to music, cultivate a hobby, say sorry and thank you appropriately and have impeccable manners if you wish your children to have the same. Be consistent though. Remember, children will form the base of their characters by age 6 or 7 so you better start early.
Stick to eat-together rituals
Even if you have work or even a date, never blow off your date with your kids. If you think you might have to go out on a Saturday night once in a while, make breakfast on Saturdays or brunch or Sundays your weekly ritual and stick to it at all costs. And don’t make it just a quick eat out. Do different things, talk, bond and cherish your children.
As much as it is important to be the guardian angel to your children, it is also important to know when to pull the strings and say no. Children being children will have unreasonable demands and good parenting does not mean agreeing to all their fancies. Unless you fancy them all spoilt and fussy when they grow up.