Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
Single parenting is a never-ending job. While parenting as a whole is generally rewarding, there are also many pitfalls and stumbling blocks along the way. As a single parent, every one of those missteps belongs to us. We receive more than our share of challenges and worries.
From raising our children in child-proof homes to helping them through school, teaching them social skills and helping them learn arithmetic, helping them learn water safety and protecting them from predators, we have our hands full every minute of every day.
I used to tell my daughters that my goal was to raise them so that one day they would be “healthy, happy, productive adults”. That is so much easier than it sounds. My oldest left home when she was 18 for many reasons including the desire to live with no rules and the fact that we disagreed on the value of her current boyfriend. Recently, a dear friend’s son experimented with self-mutilation which turned out to be directly related to his ADD medication. Another found herself faced with the demand from her teenage daughter to sign permission for her to get married or face her leaving home and breaking family contact.
Open lines of communication, regardless of topic or view, is one of the points that I constantly stress when parents ask me for advice. However, establishing this communication does not guarantee that you will always be able to find common ground with your child/teen/young adult. In fact, sometimes it only serves to let you know what to expect next, which is still better than no knowing at all.
My daughters are now 20 and 25, so I often wonder if I am the right person to be writing this column anymore. I find myself drawing on the recent experiences of friends with younger children/teens for relevant topics. I hope for guidance from all of you when there are topics of relevance on which you need information. Please let me know by emailing me at the link on the right of the page.
I will soon begin a series on methods of expression for teens/young adults that are not considered to be acceptable by normal social standards. These will include self-mutilation, eating disorders, various methods of social rebellion, and drug/alcohol abuse. Teen years are difficult and while I realize that every generation believes “it is so much different now” than it was in years before, I am beginning to realize that it is a very true statement. Perhaps by exploring these differences and the reactions they incite, we can find ways to help our teens better adjust.
Also, for single parents of the younger set, I have a book on my desk on children’s sleeping habits and methods for getting them into bed and asleep with less stress. I will be writing a review in the next few weeks – I am hoping for a few new tricks in this area.
For single parents, there is always the issue of budget. I also have a book on the single parent budget by a South Carolina author who has some wonderful insight on how to make a budget work for you and how to survive the necessity for a budget. This review will also be posted in a few weeks.
I would also like to explore how the current social and economic environment is affecting single parents. Health care reform, the recession, state budget cuts and their effect on high education all have an effect on our day-to-day lives. I would love to hear from all of you as to whether the effect is good or bad and how you plan to weather the changes. I hear a lot about how we, as Americans, need to voice our thoughts on the policies being made by our government. It would be nice to know where single parents stand. So I am lending you my ear after years of lending you my words – tell me what you think. I want to hear from you.
It has been a long time since I have said it – mostly because it has been a long time since I have needed to hear it – but let us not forget: for all that we do and endure, for the changes, the trials, the joys, and the challenges, because we handle our lives and raise our children on our own, we are living proof that single parents are the strongest people in the world. We really are!