Being a single mom is a challenge and a joy. Looking for single mother stories and good parenting tips for single moms?
These single mother stories offer effective, positive parenting tips to help you deal with your single mother challenges and the unique single parent problems single mothers face in Indian society.
If you ask kids to draw a sketch of a happy family, they’re most likely to draw both the parents with one or two children. The truth, however, is that a one-parent family can be just as happy and functional as a two-parent family.
Statistics show that more single parents happen to be single mothers than single fathers. We generally associate Western countries with single parenting. However, being a single mom is nothing new even in India.
In Indian mythology, Sita and Kunti were single mothers who were exemplary in their parenting. A woman could become a single parent due to the death of a spouse, divorce or separation, abandonment, or by having a child out of wedlock.
Becoming a single mom by single parent adoption or artificial insemination is less common in India, although the numbers could increase in future.
With the growing incidence of domestic violence and divorce, fewer kids will feel the need to ask what is a single mother and what is single parenting.
Most single mom struggles and single-parent problems revolve around the single mother life, challenges of living alone in India, providing financial security for your kids, and how to be a successful single mother.
Single Mother Stories & Parenting Tips For Single Moms
The single mother stories in this article on single parenting offer a treasure trove of positive parenting tips to help you embrace your single mother challenges and become a strong single mom.
1. Coping with the shock of being a single mom
If you’ve lost your spouse suddenly due to illness or unforeseen circumstances, it can be quite a shock to realize, “I am a single mother.” Consultant psychologist Ritu Khanna’s observation is:
Being a single mom suddenly is a difficult situation. Whatever the reason it will entail grieving the loss or learning to cope with the absence of a husband and a woman needs to be allowed that.
For women who have outlets outside the marriage such as loving parents, friends and colleagues, the task may be easier as during the initial time of single parenthood the mother may be very emotionally depleted herself.
However, all single moms are not fortunate enough to have support. Relatives, friends and neighbours are likely to stream into your home after you’ve lost or have been estranged from your husband asking the same questions over and over, some of which can be very inquisitive and annoying.
Avoid those who annoy you but remember that there may be some among them who will offer genuine help. It’s best to accept the situation and move on.
Says Milan Das, library staff of Sanskrit College in Kolkata who was left alone with three sons after losing her husband to cancer, “I had just no time to mourn but knew I had to learn how to survive instead.”
Being a single mother can be challenging, but it’s not a reason to indulge in self-pity. Take refuge in the multitude of single mom resources online by reading single mom blogs and websites for single moms.
Learn good parenting skills from single mother books, single parenting books, and free online parenting classes, so you can learn how to be a single mother from other single mother stories and parenting experts.
2. Don’t be too dependent on relatives and friends
While it’s true that a single mom may benefit immensely from the help of relatives and friends it’s unwise to be too dependent on them. Says Shyamoli Barua (name changed):
I grew up in a very protective family and was misled, by my father and brother, to believe that a woman couldn’t cope without the help of a male member of the family.
When I lost my husband I unquestionably accepted my father and brother as the guardians of me and my daughters. I also used my brother’s car instead of accustoming my children to public transport.
My father managed my banking and finances, as I was clueless about such matters. Every household decision had to be done with their permission.
Even though I had a job and was financially independent, my father and brother always told me and my daughters that it was a hassle that we were dependent on them and as without them we would have perished after my husband’s death, we should always be grateful to them.
Even when my daughters were constantly emotionally abused by my father and brother I could say nothing.
On the other hand, Jharna Dasgupta, ex-principal of Victoria College never had an easy life and her son was afflicted by polio almost at the same time that she lost her husband. But raising a physically challenged child single-handed didn’t daunt her.
I could cope with the sudden shock of widowhood as I’ve been accustomed to leading a hard life since early childhood. As my father was ailing I had to look after my younger siblings, so bearing the burden of the whole family was not new to me.
I never ever had a protected life. My husband always had cardiac problems, so I had partially prepared myself for the worst. I raised my son as a normal child. My relatives had told me to be extra-protective but my child’s doctor advised me against it.
Special children don’t want special treatment or sympathy. He travelled all alone by bus, took part in academic and extra-curricular activities including sports and went on school excursions and picnics.
Jharna’s son is now a renowned economist who lives in the USA all by himself and travels the world alone.
3. Dealing with questions about their father
Children of single moms will always have questions about their father, especially if you ended up being a single mom to a newborn and your child never got to know their father.
Sanghamitra Roychoudhury lost her father when she was just a newborn baby but her mom ensured that she could always connect with her father even though she had no memories of him. She says:
My mother always used to tell me ‘try to be like your father’. My father thereby became my role model.
Even if the mother has bitterness regarding her departed or estranged husband she should never make her kids suffer as a result of her negative feelings around her husband. Psychologist Ritu Khanna advises:
Children’s questions regarding the father need age-appropriate answers which should be honest and real without excessive negative or positive emotions attached as they will otherwise confuse the child.
It may be necessary to maintain some connection and cordial relationship with your estranged husband even if you do not have very positive feelings for him. After all, he may be providing for the maintenance of your children.
About the father’s visitation rights, psychologist Ritu Khanna advises:
If the father has the potential to harm the mother or the children in any way – emotional, physical or sexual he shouldn’t be allowed any access to the kids until he takes help and changes.
Otherwise and especially if the kids are close to him, they have to be given a chance to forge an independent relationship.
Project Manager, Ani George from Malaysia, who is separated from her husband and waiting for her divorce settlement, says:
It is likely that my daughters will eventually desire to have a closer relationship with their father in which case I have to tell myself that this is only natural, as they are half of him as they are half of me.
4. Becoming financially independent
Your income may be severely affected by the death of your spouse or divorce from your spouse. But becoming financially independent needs an effective plan. So, how can you go about achieving financial independence?
Even if you’ve been out of the workforce for a long time, you can find many online jobs for single moms, including jobs for over 40-year old women, if you’re willing to learn new skills and prove yourself.
Older women can leverage their rich professional experiences and personal wisdom and maturity to start a new career after 50.
If you don’t have a degree or had to stop your education after the 10th standard, you can learn why a financial consultant career can the best career after 10th for girls in India.
Another option is to start a small business at home with these pandemic-proof work-from-home business ideas for women in India.
Besides having a source of income, you need to learn how to budget expenditures and also need to teach your children the importance of saving and investing money. Sanghamitra Roychoudhury says:
I have seen my mother return home walking after dropping me to school only to save the bus fare, so it was not difficult for me to understand the financial crunch.
It was always my target to get a place in the first ten ranks in class to get a half concession. Right after the 10th standard examination, my mother motivated me to give private tuitions to add to the family income.
There was plenty of wealth around me, but my mother made me realize the pride in earning and gaining financial independence instead of envying others’ wealth.
I can clearly recall the feeling of happiness when I got a pencil box after a long wait in the 7th standard. I have seen my mother struggle for every single penny so I realized the value of money and saving money came to me naturally.
5. Balancing work and home
Even a working woman in a two-parent household finds it hard to juggle work and household chores. For a single mother, it is even tougher, but not impossible. Sanghamitra remembering her mother says:
As far the workload is concerned, I believe it is always the strength and dedication that matters, whether the house is managed single-handed or with a spouse.
My mother was an early riser and used to complete every household chore so that I need not bother about domestic issues but spend time studying instead. I can recall a couple of instances of her visiting me when I was alone in the home suffering from stomach pain.
She came to see me from office at intervals and during the lunch break and worked extra time in office to compensate. Doubtlessly I felt the absence of my father from time to time but never did I feel unattended.
It was my mother who managed every need that a father generally takes care of, from looking after my education and health, taking me on outings, and of course being strict when needed.
It is a good idea to train older siblings to look after the younger ones. Jharna Dasgupta, however, cautions:
Make sure that the eldest sibling is well-disciplined and properly trained otherwise he may teach the younger siblings harmful things and spoil all of them just like one rotten apple in the basket spoils the rest.
Joining a single mom support group may help you work out an arrangement by which all of you take turns babysitting each other’s children. You could also involve a trusted family member to take care of your children when you’re at work.
Try to match your work timings with your child’s school, tutoring, or extra-curricular activity timings. If you’re a single mom with no help and have no support from friends or family, try to find a good crèche for your children.
6. Parenting challenges for single moms
For decades society has told us that the effects of single parenting on children are largely negative and we hear frightening stories about children of single parents going astray and taking to drugs and crime.
This has forced many parents to stay in unhappy marriages “for the sake of the children.” But researchers have proved that this is not true. Instead, traumatizing events early in a child’s life are the main reason for these negative behavioural effects on children
The researchers also found that children raised in single-parent homes who have influence from both parents show fewer behavioural problems than children raised in single-parent homes with no influence from the non-custodial parent (Jackson et al., 2010).
Having both paternal and maternal influence can reduce negative behaviours in children, but if the father is abusive or toxic, another paternal figure, such as a grandfather, can provide a loving paternal influence.
Studies have also found that children of single mothers are not negatively impacted if raised by a lone parent. What is most important to a child’s well-being is the presence of positive relationships.
In addition, internal behavioural problems in single-parent families are associated with excessive emotional control and could be the result of harsh disciplining by single parents (McLoyd, 1990).
So, instead of focusing too much on your child’s academic achievements, avoid being critical and judgmental and work towards the overall holistic development of your child.
Be your child’s best friend and companion so that s/he shares everything with you and doesn’t need to keep secrets from you. As Sanghamitra says:
Children from homes of single parents, in general, suffer from loneliness, which makes them attracted to a different harmful world.
In my case that never happened. Rather I was never lonely, as my mother used to spend as much time as possible with me keeping no personal agenda. Besides, she engaged me in different extracurricular activities.
It was a trend to invite all my friends to my place and my mother became a member of our circle. She was used to telling me to accept the virtues of others so that I became a well-rounded personality.
Jharna Dasgupta says:
Caring, sharing and values should be instilled in children as early as possible. Waiting to discipline them when they’ve reached their teens may be far too late.
It is a good idea to involve the child in some sincere social work which may help in keeping him away from harmful activities like alcohol, drugs and internet addiction.
Shyamoli, on the other hand, regrets the fact that:
My father whom I would follow blindly believed that if a child was brilliant at studies everything else was secondary. He insisted that I train my children so that they always top the class as I had always done.
My children’s academic performance would always be compared with their cousins and if they couldn’t top the class I would punish them as per my father’s wishes.
I never really paid much heed to life skills education and disallowed my children from engaging in any hobby, extra-curricular activity, outings or interacting with friends as each and every moment was meant to be spent in studying, according to my father.
My daughters, therefore, grew up with serious psychological problems. Things got better only after I separated from my joint family and decided to raise my children independently. That’s something I should have learnt far earlier than when my children were in their mid or late teens.
7. Make self-care a priority
Single mothers often neglect their own well-being for the sake of their children and to the detriment of their own physical and emotional well-being.
The end result is that you cannot take good care of your children for whom you’re sacrificing your health and well-being. Single mothers should never forsake their own health and well-being, and make sure they set aside time to relax.
Many single mothers have no choice but to work outside the home. Balancing work, home, kids and your social life is a juggling act that can leave single working moms feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Single moms walk around carrying feelings of guilt for not being able to do it all. For single mothers leading hectic lives, looking to other women who make it work, by reading single mother stories, is one way of seeing if their advice can work in your life.
In addition to the life changes involved in becoming a single parent, there are high physical demands which are imposed by the dual responsibilities of running a home and managing a job.
Even the most resilient woman has to perform a delicate balancing act to avoid becoming the victim of stress-related illness. For a single working mother, this role can be tough and challenging.
However, if you’re up to the challenge of being the sole guardian angel of your child and sole breadwinner of the family, it will turn you into a strong single mom with plenty of emotional strength and steely determination.
8. Mitigate your loneliness
It can be lonely being a single mom with no help. For widows or divorced single moms, here are some ways to overcome the feeling of loneliness as a lonely single mom.
Even though you may be caught up with a lot of work at the office or in your remote job, as a single working mom you need to get support outside the office so that you can take some time for yourself to enjoy some downtime once in a while.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help or assistance from parents, friends and colleagues when you need it. Take care not to mix office and personal life, though. If you find it difficult to juggle office work and the household, hire domestic help and create a support system at home.
If work and household chores leave you hassled and flustered, avoid making your child the target of your anger or bad moods. As a one-parent family, your life is only you and your child, so make sure you spend quality time with your little one as she needs you just as much as you need her.
As a single mother, the time you spend with your child every day will improve your bonding as a mother and child and mitigate your own loneliness. If you love animals and can afford them, get a pet as a companion for both you and your child.
Studies have found that pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve cardiovascular health.
Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.
If you want to start dating again, there’s no harm in going on single mom dating sites to find a single parent match. You have to make your children understand the reason why you want to date.
Be honest with your child and let them know about the changes in your life. If they’re too young, there’s no need to divulge too many personal details, as it will be difficult for them to understand.
However, with single parent dating, it’s best to avoid exposing your kids to random partners in your life, as you never know who may be a predator or abuser.
One of the best single mom quotes was by the famous actress, Sophia Loren, who said, “A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
9. Join single moms’ support groups
Struggling single mothers must learn to reach out for parenting help and support from single mother support groups that understand the problems they’re going through.
Single moms’ support groups can provide parenting help and parenting advice for single moms and single working mothers. You can also join a single moms club that offers fun activities for single moms.
Single parent groups or general parenting groups can provide single parent resources when you most need it, so start networking with other single mom groups and single parent support groups online and offline.
With guidance and gumption, you’ll soon learn good parenting skills and overcome your single-parent family problems to become a strong single mother.
Many successful single mothers have proven that it may be challenging, but not impossible to balance work, home and children. Society is now more considerate, supportive and receptive to single working moms, single-parent families and single-parent households.
While you may have to go through many struggles of single parenting while learning how to be a good single mother, you’ll find that the single mom life is not so bad once you get used to being a single mom.
Whether you’re a single mom living with parents or a lone parent, you’ll face a number of single parenting challenges. But there are many benefits for single moms too, including the freedom and independence to make your own life choices as a solo parent.
Did you find the parenting advice for single moms in this article on single parenting useful? Do share your own single parenting tips and single mother stories on the SHEROES app for women.
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