Being a newly-single parent
Raising a child alone is always hard, but it can be especially difficult after experiencing the loss of your partner. Whether the loss is due to divorce, separation or death, you will inevitably go through a grieving period as you transition to life as a single parent.
Many parents do not want their children to see them upset. Communication with your child is essential during this time. If they do see you crying or getting emotional, explain to them that it is not their fault. Tell them you miss your partner or that you are feeling overwhelmed but that everything will be okay. This must be handled differently depending on the age and disposition of your child.
Recognize that your child is also going through the loss of a parent and be there for them. Establish a strong family routine, whether it be meal time, setting aside an hour to assist them with homework or reading them a story at bedtime. The familiarity of routine and the quality time spent with you will bring your child comfort. It may also help to allow your child the opportunity to form a close relationship with another adult. If a relative or close friend lives nearby and has a bond with your child, share some of the childcare responsibilities with them. It will be nice to have someone you trust around to share carpooling duties if you are ever busy or unable.
It is also imperative to stay in control of the rules you have previously set for your child. As the main source of authority and leadership in your child’s life, be clear in your expectations and firm in enforcing them. As the only parent in your child’s life, you want them to feel close and connected to you, but you also want them to know that you are in charge of their health, safety and discipline. If you are still on good terms with your child’s other parent, keep them involved but make sure you are on the same page with discipline. The last thing you want is for your child to receive mixed signals or have to choose sides.
One of the most essential ways for you to help your child and be a great parent, is to take care of yourself. It is important to build or maintain a close network of friends or co-workers that you can lean on for support and advice. Join a support group for single parents or a club that regularly participates in your favorite hobby or sport. Take time each week to do something just for you. It is nearly impossible to properly care for others if you do not first take care of yourself.