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A Shout Out for Single Parents

View profile for Liz Headley
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Well, Sunday 10th March gave all of us lucky mothers out there the opportunity to be spoilt by our children in some way. It might have been flowers, chocolates or wine. An afternoon tea or dinner at a nice restaurant or a Spa Day might have been on offer. Something at home, like breakfast in bed or having Sunday lunch prepared and cooked for Mum may have been the way to show appreciation. In whatever way it was demonstrated, the mothers who were shown how valued they are, hopefully enjoyed their day. For those less fortunate mums, who, for whatever reason couldn’t celebrate their role amongst family, I hope they got the chance to do something nice for themselves.

In June, it will be Dad’s chance to be spoilt and yet again there will be a whole variety of ways that families can show their appreciation. October brings Grandparent’s Day in the UK when three generations can potentially get together to take part in activities which invite intergenerational closeness.

I would love to give a shout out to all the single parents out there, whose special day is March 21st. In all honesty I wasn’t even aware that there was a Single Parents Day until Google informed me just now. Apparently, it began in the United States in 1984 but wasn’t recognised in the UK until 2018 when Gingerbread began to celebrate the many achievements of the huge number of single parents across this country.

It seems that Gingerbread is striving for more equality for single parent families as they suggest they are not viewed in the same way as families with the conventional two parents.

Becoming a single parent, for most of us who have been in that role, is usually something that wasn’t planned. Parenting a child or children of any age can be challenging and exhausting, as well as extremely rewarding. When a relationship breaks down and parents separate it can cause enormous sadness, stress, disappointment and guilt. Managing all these feelings, alongside helping your children cope with the potential life changing impact of divorce and separation and maybe now having two homes, can be extremely onerous. When you throw everyday life tasks into the mix, the pressures of parenting alone can become very apparent.

Being a single parent can feel very lonely at times, or even most of the time for some who don’t have much of a support network. Even if the couple relationship isn’t working as well as it could do, having two parents managing the needs of their children, just on a practical level can at least share some of the responsibilities Mums and Dads have. In a lot of cases just having another adult available at stressful times can help reduce anxiety and diffuse a difficult situation.

With no-one that you can immediately turn to at parenting crisis points, an individual can feel quite overwhelmed and powerless. Escaping an unhappy relationship can initially feel something of a relief, but the realities of managing the demands of a family alone can soon kick in.

I really do hope that single parents can regularly make some time to reflect on what they have achieved and continue to achieve on a daily basis. A lot of them will be working as well as raising children and time for self-care will be minimal. It’s all too easy to neglect your own needs when you are trying to prioritise the needs of your children. Some parents also feel too guilty to allow themselves some periods of respite, when there is at least some chance to try to rejuvenate their energy levels.

If separated parents can effectively co-parent their children, it can ease some of the burden of parenting alone, but this isn’t always possible and sometimes children have to manage very different boundaries in two homes which will inevitably impact on the relationships they have with both parents.

If you are a single parent, please do celebrate all your achievements, however small you might think they are. Sometimes just getting through the day feels like an achievement, so don’t be shy of recognising that success. Understandably, children are unlikely to identify the challenges their single parents face and say thank you, so please give praise to yourselves and find others; family or friends, or will share their admiration with you for everything you achieve.

If you know a single parent, please do try to make sure you offer some support if and when you can. It can take the form of offering practical help with the demands of caring for a family and looking after a home. It can be calling in for a social visit and some adult conversation or suggesting an evening out. It can be something just as simple as telling them you think they are doing an amazing job – they may not believe you, but please say it anyway.

It’s great that March 21st offers the opportunity for single parents to be celebrated, but it definitely doesn’t have to be the only day when successes can be recognised.

Brethertons offer their clients, who are going through separation and divorce and facing the challenges of single parenting, some emotional support. They can confidentially discuss their concerns and anxieties in a safe space. If they feel they need some advice regarding their new role, that may be available and if it isn’t an area of expertise, they can be signposted to another agency who can offer support. For any enquiries, please contact us. We have offices in BanburyBicester and Rugby, working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.