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A single parent needs to deal with the trauma of the circumstances that led to being single, and find the strength and peace within to take care of a child.
I am an unapologetically happy single parent. Yes, you heard that right. No, it isn’t an oxymoron.
I am an unapologetic and overall happy single parent and have been one for over a couple of years now. Given that I live in India, I know how hard it is to digest what I am saying. That’s exactly why I decided to put down my thoughts and the process that went into reaching this point.
Disclaimer: By no means, am I advocating single parenting as a conscious choice. However, unfortunately, life has its own way of crashing mid-flight, as they say. None of us single parents deliberately wanted this. Estranged spouse, the sudden demise of a parent, irreparable differences in marriage etc. are some scenarios where people find themselves in this situation. There is only one choice at that point – to face it with head held high. While I write from the female parent point of view, I think some pointers will be relatable to a single male parent as well.
Here are five huge worries that most single parents constantly have and some coping mechanisms I think can be used to deal with them:
This is the one big reason why a lot of marriages, even abusive ones, which otherwise ought to have broken down, are still surviving in India. Our low divorce rates are nothing to be proud of – it is a pile of horrifying truths brushed under the rug.
In many families, especially in this country, the wife is a dependent and when the marriage comes to a screeching halt by means of death or estrangement, it causes an upheaval of inexplicable emotions. In the case of a woman, it is typically the worry about finances and in the case of a man, it is the worry of “who will take care of my needs?”
It is extremely important for both the partners to be financially independent at all times, as much as possible. Even if they are financially dependent due to reasons like maternity, career switch etc., both partners should always have the confidence that they are employable any time or they can make enough money to sustain themselves and the family as a freelancer.
This is a very real problem, especially in the Indian scenario. In a country where marriage and procreation are considered the ultimate goals in life, a single parent tends to lose one’s self-esteem mainly due to loss of social status. Not being employable leads to considerable loss of self-respect as well. In cases of divorce, it is also the loss of acceptance from near and dear that completely pulls a person down to their lowest low.
The only way to deal with this is to keep telling oneself “I am enough and I can do it” and KEEP PROGRESSING, one baby step at a time. Honing existing skills, acquiring new skills by self-learning or from training workshops, regular exercise, meditation etc. can help in improving one’s self-esteem and feel confident to face the world as a strong single parent.
A lot of people give the child as a reason to stay in abusive marriages. What they don’t realise is that they are in fact ruining the child’s future by bad parenting.
Mutual respect and trust are what constitute a healthy marital relationship and if that is not there, the child will grow up to two wrong examples in his/her life.
In the case of sudden demise of a spouse, a child, depending on the age, may or may not be able to process the information.
In both cases, it is important to prepare the child to deal with uncomfortable questions with utmost confidence. For example, if someone at school asks a child, “Where is your Dad?” the child should be able to confidently say, “My Dad is no more/ My Dad is separated from my Mom but they take good care of me” without having to squirm or feel like an outlier. That confidence comes from the confidence of the single parent. So setting a great example for your child to follow is of prime importance.
Hmm, let’s talk about the most difficult part of a breakup/estrangement – the emotional trauma and the fear of ending up being single for the rest of life.
Every breakup must have a solid grieving period after which one must pick up the pieces and move on. This is more important for a single parent because there is a child who is waiting to be fed, cared and looked after. Let me offer a different perspective to ponder – having a child to care for adds purpose to life – it can actually heal the wounds of a break up much more quickly.
Dwelling on the past and fearing permanent loss of companionship will only ruin the future prospects of happiness and finding love. Be happy at this moment because no one can foresee the future.
The idea of ‘What would people think’ has buried more people alive than any other catastrophe in the world.
The journey of life is meant to be navigated as an individual. No two life journeys are ever alike! We are conditioned to live as a part of the society which is a good thing, however, looking up to the society for every single life decision, even it is at loggerheads with one’s own values destroys the meaning of our existence. Being honest and answerable to oneself is more important than lip service and trying to please every person around. At the same time, when a person is at peace with oneself, he/she will radiate that peace unto others, thereby spreading optimism all over and turning the tables around.
No craving for acceptance, yet no resentment over society’s reaction is a good place to be. Just learning to observe, smile and carry on helps immensely in carving one’s own destiny.
Go ahead, live, let live and be happy – for your own self, for your child’s well-being and great future.
Image source: pixabay