Much has been said and written about single parents in the past few weeks and months. Sadly not much of it is positive. Rarely is there any acknowledgement of the excellent job the majority of single parents do in difficult circumstances. Which set me thinking about my gang: The Boy, Mr Cool, The Short One, Curly and Thin. During some parts of their lives they have had to survive the rigours of having me as a single parent. They seem to have turned out okay. Last time I looked none of them had been rioting or looting and they seem to be in gainful employment and education. In fact, I am depending on them to look after me when I start wearing purple hats and muttering to myself.
I can’t take all the credit for that, their father certainly had an input even if he wasn’t around every day. And if I’m honest I am pretty sure that I did not cover myself in glory on a lot of occasions. But here’s the thing – it’s tough being a single parent. You will have times when you are tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, worried about money and it is oh so easy to play the blame game. Trust me, I know. There you are wondering how you are going to afford the road tax on your 14 year old Metro and pay the gas bill all in the same week, and then The Kid tells you he ‘needs’ a new England strip and a pair of boots like David Beckham’s are an essential part of his playing strategy. How easy it is to explode and say ‘if your father spent less on that floozie and faced up to his responsibilities…’
It’s not just Mums and Dad’s that find separation hard to bear. Children don’t like it when their parents’ argue. They hate it even more when Mum and Dad tell them how awful their other parent is. It’s really easy for other to tell you what to do, of course, they aren’t in the middle of it. It may help though if:
- Find a trusted friend and talk to them. Sharing the load often makes it lighter.
- If you must argue, take it away from the children.
- Whatever you think about your ex, tell someone else, not the children.
- Find other ways for The Kid to get his new England strip or pair of boots. You could make a deal, for example, if he earns half the money doing odd jobs you can make up the rest, or maybe Granny could get it for Christmas.
- Above all, look after yourself and the children.