Jun 3, 2015

The Single Parent: The 5 Essential Life Skills Required

As I stepped in the elevator with a fellow mom who took her child to school, she immediately launched in a complain about how her child ALWAYS ALWAYS never finish his homework. She told me he's so distracted with TV and playing. Same dilemma I was in last night with Iaree but difference is on weekdays we have a no-TV rule at home. So I mentioned this to her as the ride was quick (we were at 3rd F). Then she admitted that this is what's difficult with an only child being raised by a single mom with no cousins even to play with. That took her quite a while to mention to me and she was at the point about to ride her car. She mentioned single family, single child...but the hardest part for her to tell a stranger was she was raising her child on her own.

Too bad she didn't know I can relate to her well as I am a daughter of a single mom. I have a single-mom child's perspective and I totally understand her. Being a single parent is nothing to be ashamed of. If not for the seemingly perfect and happy image of a complete family, they should be the ones celebrated and highly regarded. I am in a contented and fulfilled marriage raising 2 daughters yet there are days hubby & I raise our hands just exhausted of parenting. Most days we do benefit from taking turns and boosting each others patience but sometimes you just run out of it at the same time. Single parents don't have the luxury of a taking turns or check and balance that a two-parent household has yet they have to carry on and deal with they children just the same. If hubby and I once in a while miss having a me-time (individually) and  date nights permission from our kids are more harder than asking permission from my granddad (btw with an earlier curfew)...tell that to the single parent who's bliss comes from an uninterrupted shower or meal.

Being a single parent is like having super powers! But before you reached that point of being a single parent (by choice or not) there are a few important life skills we all could benefit from.

1.  HAVE AN OPINION.  You can't just go along with what your parents, friends or partner's opinion is. While you are most likeable when you agree all the time, you are so lost when it's time to express your own especially when you're a parent. Children are fantastic negotiators and lawyers if you do not have a strong stand again something they can easily take you down.

2. CHERISH ALONE TIME. Being surrounded by people all the time is great. Having a life partner is wonderful but do you always have to check on their availability to do something you really want? Don't get used to always having someone around, while that is appreciated also learn how to cherish being alone. For instance, eating by yourself or watching a movie by yourself. These little acts of independence makes being a single parent easier to cope with because you won't always have your children with you by your side either. They will  grow up and do stuff without you eventually. The sooner you accept that the easier it will be and trust me you wouldn't want them clinging to you all the time when they are an adult anyway. So gear yourself that being alone is ok and sometimes you just really have to.

3. BE APPRECIATIVE. For big things and small things I know na "walang forever" except God. So when people are there, things happen look at the bright side and appreciate something/someone. You never know when it ends, when it's gone but you had moments that you felt happy about it and that's something. Truth is, nothing always goes the way we want it to be but happiness is a choice and one way to achieve that by being appreciative. This may be hard when you are at those trying moments that nothing seems to be right  for you but that doesn't stop you from appreciating it after the storm has passed and you're still standing. Maybe barely standing but still standing. Afterthat you deserve a pat in the back  (or a bottle of champagne all to yourself, whatever works). If you practice this skill early on, it makes you a more stable person in times of crisis and single parents have a LOT of those. Lastly, what's not to appreciate if you have your child/children growing up with you. Sure its not easy but they are the most wonderful blessings God could EVER EVER give you.

4. LEARN FROM EVERYTHING & MOVE ON. I am a person who is big on learning. I appreciate things and learn from it as well. If you made a mistake(s) its about recognizing that, assessing the what-went-wrong & what-went-right scenario. Own it and move on. No, don't deflect or blame. It only fuels a grudge. The sooner you own what was your flaw and appreciate what you did right, the sooner you can correct and move on. No point beating yourself up. Single parents don't have the luxury of time to do that so focus your energy instead into learning from it and moving on.

5. HAVE COURAGE. The thing with "walang forever" even the bad stuff doesn't last forever. Have the courage to carry on and make difficult decisions. Have the courage to be happy and acknowledge your strengths. Have courage to admit what you did wrong. Most of all have the courage to reach out and ask for help from people around you. Being independent is a key to many things but if you are nearing breaking point what use of having an emotionally wrecked parent? I saw how my mom was great with seeking and accepting help. We never felt unloved because my mom's parents and siblings were always there. We grew up complete with my mom being both a mom and a dad at the same time or our titos, titas, lolo and lola playing that role for us.

Bottom line is we all need to develop independence, it's really the core skill anyone should have but don't be stubborn when you need help as long as don't fall into the pitfall of being too dependent on those giving you help you will just be fine.

And hey..chin up!My brother and I among many other children of single parents turned out fine. :) Single moms & single dads you inspire me everyday to be a better parent because if you can do it we have no excuse not to be able to.