How to be a successful single mother? This is a question I am asked often since I am one. When I was six months pregnant with my son, I had gone to visit a friend who had just had a baby. I was eager to know what it was like to become a mother, and what are the things you should do to make your introduction to motherhood easier? My friend said: “It feels like a storm has hit you. And no amount of preparation can make you ready for that storm.” Just three months later, when my son was born, I realized she couldn’t have been more apt in describing how motherhood hits you in the face. I realized being a mother is probably the toughest job I have ever done and it’s been ten years since then, and I have not changed my notion despite the added fact that it is an extremely fulfilling job. Along the way, I got a divorce and became a single mother and learned everything about handling a child all alone.
I have friends, who are single mothers through adoption, through IVF and some through a divorce or the untimely death of a partner and I know precisely how much harder parenting gets if you are doing it alone. But they are all doing a phenomenal job, and when I asked them how they manage the multi-tasking, the emotional strain, the guilt, they gave me their inputs on how to be a successful single mother. I follow those diligently.
12 Tips To Be A Successful Single Mother
According to a UN report (2019-2020), 4.5 per cent of Indian households are run by single mothers. That makes it 13 million homes, and another 32 million single mothers live in extended families. The same report says that in 89 countries in the world, a total of 101.3 million are households where lone mothers live with their children. Being a single mother is becoming a worldwide norm, and Bollywood moms like Sushmita Sen and Ekta Kapoor are showing the way through their inspirational stories. There are single fathers too these days through adoption, surrogacy, divorce and death of a spouse but their percentage is still less. In the single mother vs single father statistics, it’s the moms who win thumbs down.
Approximately 80 per cent of single parents are women, and single fathers run the rest 9 to 25 per cent homes.
So there is no denying the fact that being a single mom brings with it a set of struggles. From surviving alone financially to being the emotional anchor to the children, it’s a supremely difficult task that women have to be at 24×7. Can a single mother raise a successful child? Yes, the children brought up by single parents are often equally successful as children having both parents. A study shows single moms who have higher education degrees have children who achieve such degrees as well. So how to be a successful single mother? We tell you 12 ways you can work things out.
Related Reading: The Guilt That Follows Every Indian Mother And Woman
1. The child’s contribution really matters
As mothers, we always tend to do things for our children. They might feel like having breakfast in bed, and we tend to pamper them out of love, never thinking of the detrimental effects in the long-run. Single mothers should make the child realize that moms have a lot on their hands, be it at home or at work and since they are doing everything alone a little help from their kids is very important. A child should contribute to making the show run smoothly, and the child’s input matters.
It should be more like a partnership than a child-parent relationship that would make the child more responsible, independent and he or she would feel that the home won’t function unless they are a team with their mother. So harping on a child’s contribution to do the chores, helping in the kitchen or clean up after the guests are gone, would make them grow up with a sense of importance and the feeling that they are the cog in the wheel.
2. Harp on the importance of money
You can be a successful single mother if you can make your child understand that your financial independence comes with a lot of hard work. So the money that is earned cannot be thrown around just like that. If you can make your child respect the paycheck that runs the household, half of your job is done.
You are raising a child who would understand the value of money, would know how savings and investments could take you far in life.
So when kids in their early 20s are splurging on bikes and branded clothes, a child who has been brought up by a single mom and understands the importance of money has already started saving judiciously.
3. Have social bindings
Being a single mother does not mean surviving like an island. A single mother needs to have close connections with friends and relatives so that a child learns the value of relationships and social bonding.
Unless living in an extended family with grandparents, children growing up with single moms don’t get to see the bonding between parents. So it is essential to cultivate relationships beyond the immediate family of two and involve the child in these relationships by organizing social meets and playdates. If it is a single-parent household after a divorce then while co-parenting with the father or while he visits, it’s essential to maintain a genial atmosphere so that the child does not grow up in the midst of any kind of animosity.
4. Create boundaries
Boundaries are essential in every relationship. Be it an intimate relationship between two partners, relationship with in-laws or with friends, boundaries go a long way in ensuring relationships stay healthy. Discover the powering of saying “no” and children could be manipulative and could arm-twist you by throwing tantrums, and you need to know how not to budge.
If you can establish boundaries with your children then instead of constantly coaxing and cajoling you for favours they would know from the start where to draw the line. They would know what’s not possible and wouldn’t even ask for it. Establishing boundaries help bring up successful adults because in their adult relationships as well they would respect boundaries, and you would pat yourself on your own back for being a successful single mother.
5. Keep a tab
We are not telling you to indulge in helicopter parenting, but it does help if you can keep track of who your child is meeting online and in real life as well, the family of friends they are interacting with closely and what they are up to in school?
We know this could be difficult since you are parenting all alone, but this is something you must do to bring up a successful child. Many parents complained that their children became gaming freaks or got involved with friends who were into drugs. If you keep a tab, you can nip the issues in the bud. Single moms are good at this – what you call smart parenting.
6. Have a schedule
Children function best within a schedule. Since you are a single mother, you have to take extra care to keep the schedule in place. If it goes haywire, you will have to do double the work to put it back in order. As a single parent juggling, work, home and children schedules are very difficult, and you might just feel like letting them watch TV way beyond bedtime so that you can also unwind on the couch for some time. Avoid doing that because as soon a child realizes that mom is not that serious about the schedule; then you have had it. He or she would try to squeeze in TV time constantly that you wouldn’t want to handle.
Single moms, who have been able to stick to a schedule, have brought up more successful children.
7. Respect your privacy
Single mothers say that since in a single-parent home, the bond between the mother and the child is very strong, the child often refuses to accept that the mother could have a private life beyond them. So picking up the mobile to check out messages, answering phone calls or constantly asking, “Who are you talking to on the phone?” could become acceptable behaviours if not tackled properly.
The child has to be taught the importance of privacy which includes manners like knocking on doors, not checking out mom’s mobile or not barging in when she is in the room with a friend or relative. Single mothers could be in relationships as well. Children will have to realize that and give them that space.
How to be a successful single mother? Teach your child the importance of privacy, and it will be a big leap to their future success.
8. Male role models
A child growing up with a mother has less idea about men. Sometimes if the parents are separated after a divorce, they grow up with warped ideas about men. So it is important to have good male role models who would give them a proper idea of how men are like and most importantly, who are the “good” men.
Your brother, father, close friends could play the role of a good male role model. Encourage your child to spend time with them and do the guy things as well that could be going to the bowling alley or watching a cricket match together. This will go a long way in the successful emotional development of your child.
9. Keep away gadgets
This is true for every relationship but more applicable to a single mom and child relationship because you are expected to give them all the attention. Try to stay away from gadgets when you get home. Take the work call or an occasional message but don’t keep sticking to your gadget as if your life depended on that. A good idea would be to switch off the mobile completely when you get home. Keep a landline and give the number to your close ones.
Spend time with your child just talking, cooking together or finishing the homework. Your child would be forever grateful to you for all the attention you give him or her, and that would reflect on his academics and his success in later life.
10. Don’t pin down your child with expectations
Single mothers tend to make their child the centre of their universe and have all kinds of expectations from them. This often puts undue pressure on them, and they grow up believing that their mother’s success or failure depends on them, and they get stressed out.
Avoid this situation. Do your best for your child but have other outlets. Have a hobby, join a book club or do other things that make you happy. Take your mind off your child for sometime during the week and see the difference it makes in your child’s life.
11. Never feel guilty
As such working moms have the guilt that they are not spending enough time with their children, single moms often have the double guilt that the child is growing up without the father (and this guilt they feel for no fault of their own).
As a result, they try to do everything to the best and often fail miserably. Let’s face it; single moms are not supermoms and children adjust quickly to situations, so there is no reason to feel guilty about not being able to spend enough time, not being able to give the best lifestyle, not taking them out for holidays they want and the list goes on. Just enjoy your single mom-hood, and there is no place for guilt there.
12. Do not hesitate to ask for help
Ask for help whenever needed. A support system of friends and family helps a single mom immensely. Try to build up that support system and ask them for help whenever you are overwhelmed. If you need to go out with your friends for a drink and unwind, don’t think you are selfish. You need me-time to function properly. Ask a cousin to babysit and don’t think a trillion times before making that call for help.
Can a single mother raise a successful child? Motherhood is hard work, but with love, discretion and some extra effort single mothers are successful parents. Just follow our tips and be a great single mom.