My kids are eighteen and almost twenty and I have raised them largely by myself since my son was two and my daughter was five months. I was also the child of a single mom since I was two. While I admire good dedicated fathers, unfortunately I can’t say that was my experience, but it doesn’t mean that being a single mom has been a negative experience. There are a lot of good things about being a single mom or dad, as well as a lot of misconceptions about single parenthood that need to be cleared up. Being a single parent can be hard, but sometimes it has it’s perks too. Here are a few that i have either experienced or witnessed.
I got the kids all to myself. Yes, this meant breaks were rare. I went out rarely and especially when the kids were little I didn’t want to leave them unless it was for some very important reason, like going to work. But I was able to set consistent rules and stick with them without worrying about the other parent giving in and letting the kids get by with something I didn’t think they should do. There’s somewhat of a misconception that single moms are so overworked and stressed that they are always looking to “escape”, but there were plenty of times I preferred to spend time with my kids, and even times I wanted to “escape” the grownups to get back to them.
My kids have always been well behaved — not just my opinion, I’ve been told this often. Surprised? Many would be, since labelling children of single families as “at risk” is a common practice. From the time they were very small I have fostered a “we’re in this together” attitude. Today they are not only considerate where I am concerned, but are exceptionally supportive to their friends.
When both parents are involved in the care of the kids they often get along better apart than they did when they were together, and are often better parents. Anyone who has ever been in a bad relationship can attest to the draining effect it has on you. It only stands to reason that it would drain your parenting abilities as well. As long as kids are made to understand and respect the differences between time at Mom’s and time at Dad’s — and the parents aren’t pitted against one another it doesn’t have to be a bad experience.
There were fewer gender stereotypes. Without a man in the house I can kill a bug, pick up a screwdriver (the tool, not the drink), and take out the garbage. Yes, I am aware there are many women who do these things even with a man in the house, but my mother always defined these tasks as men’s jobs. You might say she’s a little old school that way, and at times I have to remind myself not to follow suit. My daughter will do these things too– her favorite being the screwdriver. The least favorite being the bug. And yes, now that my son is older we do call on him to kill things when he’s available.
The kids did not have to witness fighting and/or abuse by their parents as they were growing up. I have never believed in the concept of “staying together for the kids.” When I was still married there was verbal and emotional abuse, but I got out of the marriage early enough so it is before my kids can remember.
Sometimes kids get even more people to love them. I never remarried, but a lot of single parents do. The evil step-parent is a rarity, in most cases step-moms and step-dads really “step up” in being a positive role model for their stepkids, and they bring along extra brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. Depending on the family exactly how to balance this dynamic can be tricky, but usually it’s mostly a good thing.
While I was the custodial parent, I should note that non-custodial parents are parents too. I admit this with mixed feelings. I am not sure how much my children’s father cares about or even thinks of our kids. They have not seen him in many years. The same goes for my own father. When I was a child, and now years would pass without me seeing him. However I am still curious, and have a general concern for his well being eventhough he was never a major factor in my life.
The same goes for mothers in this situaltion, as being non-custodial and/ or absent. Just because a parent isn’t there it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Various things can happen that can render a mom or dad incapable of fulfilling their parenting role. In these cases, the other parent– or sometimes other friends or family members need to step up their game in order to see that the kids get the best upbringing possible. It does not make the single mom or dad some type of superhero. They are simply doing the best they can for their child.
Of course there is a lot of in between. Mom’s that call every Saturday and never miss a birthday. Dad’s that come over and bring pizza on Tuesday nights. Parenting, whether the parents are living together or not, is always a balance. The breakdown can be 50/50, 99/1, or a plethora of ratios in between. Parenting is rarely something that is even or fair. Few things in life are. With parenting, as with anything, it is what it is and you work with it and make it as possitive as possible.