(RoyalPatriot.com) – Being a parent is one of the hardest roles to play. It never ends, is ever-changing, and puts the responsibility of a whole other life in the hands of a person or persons. It also serves as an enormous, but not complete picture of the identity of the person in question. It’s hard enough to do as a team, let alone as a single parent. They face all the judgements of parenthood, coupled with the stigma attached to being a single parent. Here’s how the “village” really can help.
End the Stigma
It doesn’t matter how many kids anyone raises; there is no perfect parent. And no two parents have the exact same life experiences. For some reason, mothers seem to be constantly pitted against each other in society, which leads to nothing good at all. Anyone who starts off trying to help with the stigma of a single parent front and center may as well not bother. The parent has no reason to answer to anyone for their status, and it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that every parent can use a hand, maybe most especially if they’re doing it alone.
Help Create a Core Family
Some single parents have access to a large and diverse family, and the absent parent is regularly involved with the child. But many don’t have any of this, and these things bring great value to a child. Don’t try to step in the role of an absent parent, but also don’t be afraid to reach out and engage with the family, either. Does your neighbor have a father who passed away? When you’re building those birdhouses, he might be interested in learning how. Does the neighbor girl have an avid interest in dance, but a mother who works two jobs and doesn’t have much time after work? Offer them both some dance tickets or sponsor her in a dance class. Maybe even ask her to show you some moves.
The nuclear family is valuable to any child. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be about blood relations. Sometimes it can’t be. Sometimes, it really does take a village.
In your efforts to help a single parent maintain core family values, be sincere or don’t be there at all. Don’t befriend a child to date the parent or for any other reason other than to befriend the child. Befriend the parent as an equal and recognize they have just as much to offer you as you do to them. Core family values include showing respect for the parents and treating the child as if they are someone to be protected and instructed, to the extent of instruction that is reasonable.
You might think it’s helpful to tell a boy to look out for his mother, but he is not an adult and doesn’t need an adult burden. You might tell a girl to take good care of the house and her father, but she isn’t a grown woman and those aren’t her responsibilities. Recognize that though the dynamics may be different than a nuclear family, the roles should be seen as close to the same as possible. One study even shows that the mortality rate for those in the 10-14 age group is four times higher in children from single-parent homes. They need fewer burdens and more support, not the other way around.
Divide Parent From Person
If you only see a single parent as a single parent and not a person with their own interests, you’re probably doing them a disservice. Many single parents make all the decisions on their own and have very little time for themselves. Helping them explore their personal interests indirectly helps them be better parents, as everyone needs a break now and then. This might also mean they need to vent about parenting, as they would do with the other parent if they were there. Learn to listen without judgement or advice, unless specifically asked for it.
From the roles in the family to the perceptions of the individuals themselves, single parenting brings unique issues to the table. That doesn’t mean they don’t want their child(ren) to learn core family values. Even something as simple as inviting them to be a part of your family events can help fulfill this natural need.
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