Sometimes I find it frustrating and overwhelming being a single mom. There are no breaks, no spouse to pick up the slack, and only one income to make ends meet. Between work, house cleaning, and trying to keep up with my kids whereabouts and homework…I”M TIRED!! I get snippy, short tempered, impatient, and sometimes go in my room and shut the door just to have some alone quiet time.
Single parenting is a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure that is put on just one person. If your in a position like me and receive no child support, it’s even harder. Being in a very nice middle class neighbourhood, my kids don’t have what the neighbours have. Luckily my neighbours are good to my kids and their kids aren’t materialistic snots. Everyone gets along and is kind to each other…for the most part.
Sometimes I worry that my past mistakes have made a negative impact on my kids. I fear that my daughter will date jerky men, that she really has low self esteem despite her confidence and resilient personality. My son has suffered the most with my divorce. He had a father that did everything with him to one that took off never to be seen again. Abandonment has been an ongoing issue with him. Loss and dealing with grief and it’s stages has been a challenge for me with Tyrell.
I’m very open with my children. They know I’m not perfect, but they do know that I do my best to learn from my mistakes. When they see me accept myself and still be happy with myself despite my flaws, they accept themselves also. They are OK with not being perfect and love themselves anyway. They fall down, jump up and laugh, brush themselves off and move on. If it’s a biggie, we hash it out, talk about why they made the bad choice and what they would do different. If they are acting out, we deal with the side issue that’s causing the behaviour. And they’re OK with that and they feel good about themselves despite the mistake.
My children are used to overcoming challenges. Mikaela suffers from ADD, dyslexia, a short term memory disorder, and a stubborn temper. Even though there were times I wanted to throw myself and her out the window, I always told her how good she was. When she would take fits and not want to do her work, we would go over it again with her. Mind you, I had to be a crazy advocate at the school, constantly in the office. I got a Children’s First social worker to come in and teach her coping skills and problem solving. I ended up switching school boards when she was in grade four so she could get a quicker psych assessment done. Finally she got the help she needed. She got special equipment, a special teacher, and by law the teachers had to help her according to what her needs were.
My Tyrell had a speech delay. We put him in therapy. In six months he could pronounce his words normally. Tyrell has always been a pretty easy child but with the loss of his dad he was angry, sad, extremely depressed. My little guy used to not want to go to school, he would tell me he wanted to die and he would cry all the time. He bullied at school and developed a need to fit in because he felt so lost. The school was very helpful and supportive with him. Even though he said he would only talk to his mom, they helped him with his grief and made him feel OK.
|My cutie Tyrell|
When we have children that have extra needs and problems, how do we deal with them? Do we deny our children’s issues and refuse to believe they are less than perfect? Do we push them away and wallow in our own issues and mess only to compound their problems? So many parents do this and in turn they create more issues. They deny help that is there for their child. They give their kid the subconscious belief that they’re more flawed than they already think they are. One thing about kids is they’re not stupid. They know they are not functioning or feeling right but they don’t always know why. Children tend to act out their feelings and frustrations and don’t always know what or why they are feeling that way. When the adult they look up to doesn’t validate and help them, they get depressed and feel worse about themselves. When a parent puts their fear or pride on their children it makes things worse for everyone.
|My beautiful Mikaela|
One thing I believe in is your child will become what your beliefs are, what you label them or what you call them. If you treat them like a mess, they believe they are a mess. If you have the good child and the bad one, that’s what you’ll get. Our thoughts, actions, and words and belief systems shape our children’s feelings about themselves.
So when Mikaela would scream and yell and throw her books and say it’s too hard and she’s stupid. We would say “No your not, you’re smart, you just learn different. We’ll figure this out, I have your back.” I would always reinforce her good traits, I was always helping her switch her compulsive response to the constructive response. In time she got it. As she grew up, all the skills I made her practice are becoming automatic. Now Mikaela is in regular classes, she gets great marks, she’s self confident and self reliant. She’s goal orientated, and responsible. I’m very proud of her. Is she perfect…no…far from it, but life is just beginning. She has lots to learn, mistakes to make and hearts to break. I’ll be there through all of it to make sure she figures it out.
And when Tyrell would come and cry and hate school I would be there to tell him it’s OK. I would validate his feelings. He has a right to be mad and upset and he has a right to express it. Expressing it in a healthy way is where I came in. We got counselling and even though he has always been pretty closed to being open with anyone other than his mom, I learned how to help him get through it, and some skills for myself to get through the situation. Today Tyrell enjoys school, he has lots of friends and his teachers love him. He still needs more encouragement than his sister but that’s OK. Tyrell isn’t angry anymore and he helps others at school and befriends those who are being bullied and have issues.
Validating your children’s feelings is so important. Ya they might have an issue, but guess what? It’s OK! They’re awesome anyway. I always tell my kids they are smart and whatever they chose to do, they will be great in. When they can’t figure out their school work the conventional way, I tell them that following the status qua isn’t all that. They just learn different and when the teacher gets it, they’ll get better marks that everyone. They just learn different, no biggie! Focus on the good stuff. My daughter is very entrepreneurial. She can cook better than most grown ups I know, and she’s life smart, she has common sense beyond her years. My son is very mechanical. He knows how to build stuff and use tools. He’s very neat and he’s built some things that I couldn’t even do.
|Me and my Big Kids!|
So we’re never alone. Parenting is tough. Positive parenting is even harder. There are lots of times I want to give up, then one of my little cuties comes in and gives me a smile and a hug and tells me they love me…and its worth it.
Always take time to recharge yourself, mingle with like minded parents with the same ideals as you, and be kind to yourself and your children. Their is no handbook. Every child is different and has different needs. No one is right or wrong, we all make mistakes, and we all learn and grow.
As I see my children do well in every way, I’m glad I put the effort into them. I’m proud to see them make good choices and learn from their bad ones. I’m glad to see them set a good example with their friends. It’s all paying off and It’s just the beginning. The teen years are here with loads of new territory for all of us! I’m just putting on my seat belt…and buying a bigger bottle of wine! lol! The best is yet to come!
If you are in the Windsor/Essex area, I have to give my parenting credit to Win Harwood. She is the founder of Positive Parenting Windsor. Here is her link. Win Harwood
|Parenting is tough, sometimes I want to opt out! Just remember, there is always help and support for everyone with any problem or situation you will encounter in this lifetime.|