My name is Lauren and I have been a sole custodial and sole support parent for almost thirteen years. I have two children, thirteen years old, and no, they are not twins. They are nine months apart and I became a single mother when they were seven and sixteen months old. I never dreamed that my children had an indolent father and that I would be raising orphaned children.
Still to this day I can hear my oldest son, whom I picked up from preschool when he was four years old, sobbing uncontrollably on Father’s Day because he had no father to give his handmade gift to, but all the other children who I knew I had dads. Every year he dreaded Father’s Day. I know it wouldn’t be fair to kids with dads not being able to celebrate by giving gifts at school, but frankly the two or three days it took them to complete their gifts must have been very sad for my kids.
It has gotten easier over the years, and now my children and I can laugh at this sad subject, although there were some difficult times that had to be worked out before they could get to where they are now. Dos and Don’ts of Raising Fatherless Children:
- DO NOT look down on the father of your children. No matter what kind of bad feelings you harbor towards the father of your children, I cannot stress enough how important it is to their well-being that you do not speak ill of your father. He is not there to be “hurt” by your words, but your children are. It affects his self-esteem and causes stress when his own flesh-and-blood father is a “horrible guy.” It amazes me that a mother tells me that she loves her children so much and then I hear her turn around and speak ill of him to her children.
- DO NOT burden them with your financial worries. Telling your children that you are having trouble paying the bills or making the house payment because their father does not pay child support only makes them feel insecure. Children internalize their exaggerated concerns. They don’t know anything about financial matters. Would you like them to think that they can end up without a home to live in?
- DO NOT keep mentioning their name. If he is not in their lives, then why talk about him and think about the “what if” if only? “Build a bridge and get over it. Get on with your life.
- DO NOT act helpless without a man around. You are already showing how strong you are by being a sole custodial mother. They want them to end up marrying a strong woman. Remember that children tend to marry women like their mothers. You don’t want your daughters to end up thinking that they need a man around all the time to help them.
- DO NOT underestimate the male sex. Remember, you are raising “little men.” Looking down on men humiliates your children. You also don’t want your daughters to dislike men before they have a chance to meet them! There are a lot of cool guys out there!
- DO NOT have an appointment to pick you up at your home. Until you have an established relationship, it is best to keep your personal love life separate from your “mother” life.
- DO NOT incorporate or involve your new boyfriend in your children’s lives. I had a friend who, a week after meeting a “new guy,” had him at home to help her kids with homework! Given that my kids don’t even have a weekend dad that I didn’t want to be fond of, what in their minds could be a future dad, and then the man walking out of their lives if things don’t work out.
- DO NOT let your boyfriends stay overnight. IIt can be difficult to spend time alone at night with the man of your life, but “well”, it is.
- Say “I love you” every day. It is very important for your children to know that no matter what they do wrong, they are loved unconditionally.
- Tell your children that their father loves them but has chosen not to be a part of “our” lives. This advice was given to me by a family therapist when my children were very young. Later, your children will ask more questions when they are given this answer, at which point you can tell them what you think is an age-appropriate answer.
- Show them pictures of your father when they ask. My oldest son asked to see a photo of his father when he was about six years old. I took out the photo album and after looking at two or three pages he told me that he wanted to see cartoons again.
- Tell them that anyone can father a child, but it takes a special person to be a dad. Let them know that their father is not cut out to be a good father and that he has nothing to do with them. Let them know that their father loves them, but that he is not cut out to be a father. You don’t have to look like a saint either.
- Tell them how proud you are of them. Nothing will make a child shine more than being told that they have made you proud.
- Discipline your children. Be consistent with discipline. Say what you want to say and do what you say. Many single parents tend to feel guilty because their children have an absent father that they do not discipline well enough. It is a proven fact that well-disciplined children do better in school and in life. Remember that discipline is love.
I was born and raised in Southern California in what I would describe as a kind of “Ozzie and Harriett” family. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I could really appreciate how lucky I was to grow up with a mom and dad living under the same roof. The same can also be said of all the other members of our family. I know that is one of the reasons why I have felt guilty, although I know that the absence of the father of my children is not my fault, that my children were tricked into not having what I had. I had a wonderful father and I am grateful that he was so devoted to his family.
All you can do as a parent is the best you can. Make the right decisions. Sometimes it can be difficult to consistently put your children’s well-being ahead of yours, especially if you’re feeling lonely or during times of stress, but it will pay off in the long run. They grow so fast. Make this one opportunity count. There are no “repetitions” when it comes to parenting. Single parenting is not easy. Either is dual parenting. You are not perfect and you will make mistakes. Fatherless children can grow up happy and secure even if they only have one parent. Your dead parents [http://www.squidoo.com/Raising-Sons-Without-a-Man-Around] they are missing so much. You are not perfect. The fact is, you have to forgive yourself for any mistakes …The most important thing to remember …
LIFE IS NOT ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS … IT’S LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN!