United parents are fortunate because they can rely on each other for support. However, even parents with partners often parent alone.
Don’t fight to force your partner to parent as you do. Leave resentments behind and lead with thought. Build emotional connections and a daily lifestyle with a healthy pace.
Whether you are a single parent or one with a partner, consider these simple steps to minimize stress and nurture a resilient child.
• Take care of yourself so you can take care of your child. Make time for yourself to nurture your own spirit and balance your emotions. Remember to HALT. Being hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT) impacts decisions and actions.
• Model healthy relationships. Don’t speak negatively against the other parent. Don’t change how you always referred to him/her (daddy vs. your father). Don’t argue in front of the children. Utilize effective responses with children as well as adults, including, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and “I heard what you said and I will take it into consideration.”
• Don’t involve your children, ever. They want and need to feel loved by both parents. Leading them to choose sides will build resentment. They may choose to “rescue” the other parent in response to your actions or words. Should your child repeat negative comments about you from the other parent, don’t defend. Calmly respond, “I’m sorry you had to hear that.” Or, “I’m sorry (s)he feels that way.” Children will figure out who is telling the truth, and with whom they are more comfortable.
• Be realistic. Don’t be friends with your child, and don’t give in to make up for being a single parent. Address tantrums with a low, slow tone of voice. Remain in charge, with kindness. Use empathetic phrases including, “You seem disappointed,” or “I’ll try to make that happen.” Encourage continuous, open communication with, “I’m glad you asked” or, “I like how you asked!”
• Expect respect by being respectful. Develop zero tolerance for yelling at each other, yelling through the house, sarcasm, door slamming or disrespectful, hurtful words. Teach children to say, “I’m really frustrated now and need time to calm down.” Make thoughtful decisions.
• Listen carefully without judgment or defense. Post a feelings face chart illustrating emotions to ignite nonverbal communication and schedule weekly family meetings to express pride and accomplishments first, and changes second. Post house rules for everyone to follow. Children learn what they live.
Page 2 of 2 - • Spending five to 10 minutes per day individually with each child for dramatic results including better communication, enhanced self-confidence and a stronger, deeper relationship.
Remember to breathe, laugh and enjoy.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed. is a parenting coach and author of “Parenting with a Purpose.” Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources at Diana Boggia’s website, www.yourperfectchild.com.