There are two types of single parents. One who shares custody with another parent, and one who is doing this journey alone. The journey I am referring to is parenthood (and not the very popular television show.) Recently a client was telling me about her frustrations of being a widow with no help from others and hearing from her friends who are divorced about the difficulties they have of single parenting. She felt that she never got a break, while her friends had “time off” when their kids were with the other parent. She stated that others, “just don't understand.”
There are many tips from "true single parents."
1. Offer to help.
Whether it means you can pick some milk up at the store or run their child to music class, offer assistance. Be specific. "I can drive your son to soccer every Monday is much better than, call me if you need me."
2. Be understanding.
"True Single Parents" have a lot on her plate and can be forgetful. They may forget to RSVP for a party (or even show up), forget to return a call, or remember it's their turn for snack at preschool. Just be understanding...
3. Stay in touch.
At first everyone is in touch. People come to visit, make meals, give donations (monetary or of clothing and toys), but it begins to slow down. If you need to write on your calendar to "check in" with your friend, do it. A five-minute phone call can mean a lot.
4. Do not give unsolicited advice.
No one wants to hear, “you are better off without him or her,” or “at least now you don't have to share holidays,” etc. They want to feel better after talking, not worse.
5. Listen to them.
Things can get tough for everyone. Imagine never having alone time, never getting financial help from a partner, having to be strong for your kids, but mourn yourself. Listen to your friend, understand they may have good days and bad days but they still need to know they have support.
We all know raising children does not come with a handbook and when someone has to do it alone, they may wish there were two handbooks!