How to be successful as a single parent

Before I dive into my personal opinions on how to be successful as a single parent, let me give some stats:

63 percent of suicides nationwide are individuals from single-parent families.

75 percent of children in chemical dependency hospitals are from single-parent families.

More than half of all youths incarcerated in the U.S. lived in one-parent families as a child.

That's pretty depressing. It's depressing to know that my child is faced with some pretty big odds.

The good news? We are and will continue to beat those odds. If you're a single parent and you care about the future of your child then you can beat those odds too.

It will take dedication. It will take work. It will take sacrifice. It will be filled with days when you just want to throw your hands in the air and give up. It will require countless hours of you being on your face asking God to intervene in a situation. 

Here are some suggestions I have based on personal experience and 15 years of being a single parent:

1) Your children should be one of your main priorities. I learned this the hard way. For years I tried to put other things in front of my son, most of those things being relationships. No relationship is worth sabotaging your relationship with your kids. This might mean that dating takes a back seat or just becomes a smaller part of your life for a while.

2) Surround yourself and your family with positive, supportive people. I can't stress this enough. I don't know what I would do without my church family. They are encouraging, supportive, and love Brenn and me so much. They have babysat, picked up, dropped off, prayed for, and loved on my child. 

3) Spend as much time with your children and get to know each one as an individual. This is really hard to do as a single parent. We are pulled in so many difference directions, but spending quality time with our children is important. When you know each child as an individual, you will know when something is wrong. You will pick up on behavior that's out of the ordinary and you will know when you need to intervene in a situation.

4) Take time for yourself. This is why it's so important to be surrounded with people you can trust. You need people you can count on to take you children for a while so you can have some "you" time. Don't feel guilty for doing this. You need a break. You need adult time. 

5) With every decision and with every action, ask yourself, "How will this affect my children?" or "How will this affect my relationship with my children?" I think when we stop and really think about how our actions affect our kids, we'll think twice before making a bad decision.

6) Let your home be a safe place. Your children need a stable place where they feel secure and loved. Make your home that place. Let your children know that they can talk to you about anything and you will not jump to conclusions or judge them. 

7) Watch your speech. This is so very hard sometimes. Watch the negative talk around your children, whether it be about something they did or even about the other parent. Remember your actions toward the other parent just puts your children in the middle. It affects them more than anyone.

8) Set rules stick to them. Your children thrive when there are boundaries in place. You might not feel this way at times, but know that many children will test those boundaries just to see if you're serious. Be makes you children feel safe and loved.

There's so much more to say, but these are the biggest nuggets of advice I can give. 

Just remember that your children won't be little forever. You have a great responsibility of helping to create the foundation in which they will stand on as adults. Let that foundation be filled with love, acceptance, and guidance.


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