Valuable Parenting tips
“I don’t know what’s more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you’re doing.”
―Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat
Parenting tips is regarded as one of the most challenging and rewarding undertakings in life. It’s a huge responsibility that may at times seem daunting or even overwhelming. It’s important to recognise that all parents grow into their roles, and is unrealistic to expect to have the correct answers all the time!
Being a parent-
Parents experience a myriad of emotions, including love, joy and pride, but also at times anger, panic, despair and frustration. Sometimes parents may feel unappreciated by their children or judged by others. It’s normal for parents to sometimes feel tired or upset and question what it’s all about. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect; all parents make mistakes at times. Mistakes only matter if one doesn’t recognise them and keeps repeating them.
There is no shortage of information on parenting tips and as a parent you can easily feel overwhelmed by it all. Suggestions from family and friends, whilst well intentioned, can make you feel like you are not doing a good job as a parent. However, be open to suggestions, thank people for their interest and ideas, and think about the advice given. Some suggestions might work for you, but some may not.
Its important to recognise the latter point; whilst an approach taken by another family may work for them, an identical approach may not necessarily work for your family as every family is unique. A ‘failed’ approach is not reflective upon you as a parent. Rather, it should serve as a means of better understanding the situation, to either help tweak the approach or adopt an entirely new approach. This is where professional consultation and guidance may be beneficial.
Work can be a major part of people’s lives. However sometimes parents may feel they are struggling to juggle work and family life. This can cause many parents to:
- Develop feelings of guilt due to not being able to spend enough time with their children
- Worry about what to do if/when their children become ill
- Worry about how others perceive them when things go wrong
- Become overly stressed when faced with events that throw out the daily routine
It’s important for parents to work out how to manage time in order to achieve a realistic work/life balance. Where two parents are involved, it would be helpful for both parents to discuss how responsibilities will be shared. This requires planning, organising and communicating with each other.
Some aspects parents need to think about-
- What are the family priorities? Creating a priority hierarchy may be beneficial.
- Who does what? Sharing of tasks based on each others’ strengths, schedules and interests.
- Contingency planning – what arrangements are in place for when children fall ill / school events (who takes time off to attend or stay at home?).
- Maintaining personal and social connections – it’s important to find time to spend with partner / friends (quality of time is of greater importance than quantity).
- Self care – make time for self / leisure activity. One needs to look after oneself in order to care for another and be able to manage life’s stresses. As such, self care isn’t a luxury but rather a necessity.
- Family time – make time for family being together to foster relationships, communication and bonding.
- Individual time – dedicate a special time for each child on a regular basis.
Parenting in a single/sole parent household brings with it a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The reality of single parenting is that whilst some may choose it, others may have it thrust upon them.
Some unique aspects of single parenting-
- The opportunity to share the household workload and parenting with may be reduced or missing.
- Single parents are more likely to involve their children in the day-to-day running of the family. As a result, children from single parent households often have a significant amount of input in relation to the way things are done at home. This can create difficulties at school when the same level of responsibility is not given to them by their teachers.
- Parenting a baby alone can be very stressful. They require 24-hour care but parents need breaks and someone to talk to, who can provide help and support. This can trigger feelings of isolation and inability to cope.
What additional Parenting tips single parents need to think about-
- Children need to be ‘children’. Sharing the load shouldn’t take over. They need time to do children’s things for their mental wellbeing.
- Single parents often face financial difficulties, which the children would be quite aware of and can cause them to feel vulnerable, helpless and anxious about the future. Children need to feel secure and know that the parent is the grown-up and will look after them.
- It’s important for parents to make time to develop and maintain social connections with other adults.
- In the interest of mental wellbeing and mitigate any feelings of isolation, it would be beneficial for single parents to regularly talk to family members, friends or a suitable professional about what may be worrying them.
- One should be aware that children are often torn between loving parents who live apart. As such, it is important to keep children out of issues between parents and make any interactions as amicable as possible in the presence of the children.
- It’s important to recognise that children are generally more likely to ‘misbehave’ with the parent who has them most of the time, does most of the disciplining and routine day-to-day things.
- Children want and need to be able to love each parent without feeling guilty. Let your child openly plan and enjoy time with the other parent.
- Make handovers as natural and friendly as possible.
- Recognise that children need time to ‘fit back into home’ upon their return. This can take anywhere from minutes, hours or days. Note: If your child takes days to settle after separation and this doesn’t seem to improve over time, you may need to seek professional help for your child.
- Do not exchange messages between you and your ex-partner via your children, or to find out what your ex-partner is doing.
Growing up in a single parent household-
- Growing up in single parent families can be a very positive experience for children, who often form close and special relationships with the parent.
- Following the loss of a parent and the family unit as they knew it, children need time to grieve. It’s a major change in their life that can at times be unexpected for them, and isn’t a decision they have much say in.
- New relationships need to proceed slowly and if you do decide to have a partner, be aware that it could create issues for your children. This is not to say that you shouldn’t start new relationships. But take time to discuss this change with your children, listen to how they feel and let them know they are still just as important to you now as before.
Things that may help make parenting easier-
- Being more informed about children’s psychological developmental needs.
- Being open to new/different methods of parenting.
- Being strong enough to acknowledge when you don’t know how to do or manage something.
- Being prepared to seek professional help/advice.
Parenting is difficult without help and support from others. Sometimes, support from family and friends may not be enough. Don’t be hesitant to seek help, it’s not a sign of weakness or inability to cope. You are doing an important job. Be proud of your efforts as a parent.