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Tips for Single Parents

I want to talk to you today about a family system that is becoming all too common. Single parent households are increasing in number in a society designed for dual-parent systems. As a single mother of four, myself, I know all too well the struggles of managing an entire household and one or more children completely alone. It is very difficult when you do not have family support or the support of the other biological parent. Often, all of the financial, physical, emotional, social, and health needs of the child fall on one parent. It is easy for that one parent to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to handle it all alone. It is also common for that parent to neglect their own needs in the scramble to meet the needs of their child(ren). Remember the airplane analogy---don’t give out the oxygen mask to anyone until you have taken oxygen for yourself. It is essential that you take care of yourself so that you will be better able to care for your children. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the community, from your support system, from your child(ren)’s school, from your church, or from neighbors, if you need help. People may be more able and willing to help you than you realize. This won’t make you a “bad parent,” just a more effective one! Remember: it takes a village to raise a child. 😊

As a therapist, I worked for years with families in similar situations, and also taught classes on single parenting. Here are a few of the tips I like to share that may help you be the best parent (and individual) you can be, under any circumstance:

Single Parenting Tips

Be the Best YOU You Can Be:

· Take care of yourself

· Join forces, work together

· Accept help

· Plan ahead for emergencies (for yourself & your child)

· Try to budget to help reduce stress

· Don’t neglect your own feelings (seek counseling if needed)


· Set limits

· Be structured

· Be loving—ALWAYS

· Look for opportunities to be positive


· Be honest (age-appropriate) with your children

· Be respectful

· Treat children like CHILDREN (try not to lean on them emotionally)

· Give quality time to your children as much as you can. Make time.

· Don’t be afraid of an early bedtime (7:30, 8:00)

· Forgive yourself for mistakes

· Don’t take your anger out on the child (give yourself a time out)

· Don’t talk about the “other parent” negatively

· Have family meals

· Use reward charts

· Establish ground rules

· Discipline (explain the consequences and reasons: time out, removal of privileges)

· Give age-appropriate chores and responsibilities

· Pick your battles (Don’t sweat the small stuff)

· Celebrate the successes (potty training, the good days, etc)

· Try to be prepared (take a snack and drink and an activity when going out)

· Multitask (use laundry to quiz child on colors, furniture for shapes,etc)


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