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Being a single mother is never easy. Raising a family alone requires that you perform the roles of two people, the father and the mother. You will not have the luxury of sharing many of the jobs that two parents have, but nevertheless, you will need to address the concerns of these jobs: provider, disciplinarian, comforter, guidance counselor and so forth.
It is important to realize, however, that being a single mother does not mean that you need to be alone. In order to be successful, you will need to learn how to make decisions and act on them (e.g. how to use community resources, parental and family support, get financial aid, get respite time etc.) so that the needs and interests of your children are met. You can be ready to meet the many challenges of a single mother by knowing how to handle such challenges in advance.
Challenge #1 - The Number 1 Priority
In order to build a strong foundation for your children, it is important to address their developmental needs. This will prevent hurts and shortcomings from becoming unresolved emotional baggage later on in life. This will also help children to resist peer pressure. Although, there are issues that are specific to each gender (especially during puberty), there are many common elements that your children need.
The most important of these common elements is the need all children have is to feel unconditionally loved by their mother. No matter what trials and tribulations you face as a single mother, this is the highest and most meaningful thing you will ever do for your child. It will survive all the financial shortfalls (e.g. meager gifts during the holidays or birthdays), and any missed school plays or other opportunities because of you having to work and any crankiness or stress that you experience as a single mother.
In order maintain this priority, you need to put things in proper perspective. Realize what your children can do without. They will not do well without a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence.You should also learn to get the help you need. Set realistic boundaries of what you can and cannot do. Give yourself and your children permission to be less than perfect and spend daily quality moments with your children even if they are short and in between homework and chores. You can expand the amount of time spent with children by and doing household chores together.
It is important to realize that unconditional love is not the same thing as "anything goes" or "I cannot judge between right and wrong". Unconditional love means you can separate the child from the actions. This means that you will not demean your children or place labels on them. You will treat them with respect but give them the logical consequences for any misbehavior. Let them know in advance what the consequences will be for staying out after curfew or not cleaning up etc. You must follow through with the consequences in order to be respected by your children, but do it in a firm and loving way. It does not have to be angry and confrontational.
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