The constant contact a child has with his or her parents is very important. Among other positive things, it helps to build the child’s identity, self-esteem and a sense of community.
Some parents worry about the psychological or emotional impact the absence of a parent has on their child, especially if daily contact with other role models or family members is not possible. However, certain conditions can promote the development of the child even if a parent is absent or deceased.
Here are some suggestions on how to move forward as a single parent family:
Talk to your child about their birth. Even if they do not ask questions, it is important that they understand where (who) they come from, to build knowledge of themselves and builds their identity. You can say for example, “You have a (father/mother) by birth. You do not know him/her, because we no longer live together in one house.” In cases of abandonment, you can add: “For reasons I do not know, they do not come to see us anymore.” Focus on the important people who do participate in the child’s life: grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, family friends, and teachers. Reassure your child that they are important to many people around them.
Tell the truth, without blaming the other parent or showing your sadness. Your child must understand the love you feel for him/her, rather than the bad memories of the relationship between his/her parents. Tell your child it’s a conflict between adults, so they do not feel guilty.
Allow your child to express their sadness or anger about the absence of the other parent. As a child grows up, they will become more and more aware that some families have two parents instead of one and they might start questioning or resenting. These emotions are normal and will allow them to mourn the missing parent.
If the other parent is deceased, allow your child to keep a small object in remembrance of them, even if the child was an infant at the time of death. This way, your child will feel their presence in their life symbolically.
You can show your child pictures of the other parent, describe them, notice similarities, or speak positively about other men or women: “You’ll be tall like your daddy”, “I see you’re having a good time with Joseph’s mother “, etc.
A child’s biological father or mother cannot be replaced, but you can surround yourself and your child with positive adult influencers who will become role models. These can be family members or not, but the point is that children are surrounded by love and acceptance which is important to child development. Being a single parent is not easy, but the faster you build a community of babysitters, friends, doctors, family members, coworkers, other single parents, and other families, you will find that building a community of kindness will help end the loneliness and isolation that some single parents find overwhelming in trying to do it all.
This is what ParentCirkle aims to do by creating an online parenting community for not only other single parents out there, but for all families who need a place to create a connection, vocalize their concerns and joys, and share parenting advice. As an online parental support site, which was created by a single mother, ParentCirkle has coaches and experts from various fields to help and assist parents from all backgrounds, because it truly does take a village to raise a child.
Please see our full parenting class schedule HERE and sign up for the next available class!
Choosing a name for your child holds the power to shape the self-esteem and their identity, and can even influence how they are treated and seen by others. Why so much weight on a name?
An original Circle 4 Parents blog.