Committing to the solo role as a parent impacted all my relationships, most importantly, with my daughter. Here is how you can be a best friend as a single parent.
Running the show from the minor activities to fixing long-term goals required immense determination and untiring efforts, something I hadn’t realised unless I embarked on the journey. Unless I decided to organize my life, it was hard to build a deep bond with her, one where I became her best friend and confidant. This was critical because I was left alone disciplining and raising her well so she could never feel the void that separation of parents brought into her life. I knew I had to stay firm and help her become independent to grow up to be someone I am proud of. And, this also required a strong, loving friendship between us for trust to deepen despite the occasional hardships or setbacks that we would go through as a family.
If you can relate to the struggles of a single parent, you’d know how critical it is to create an environment of love and understanding so your child appreciates your struggles and you become a team against all odds. Hence, being friends with them is your best bet, so they don’t feel torn between either parent.
Being A Best Friend As A Single Parent
Have an open mind and listen more than you preach. This is where I began. As a single parent, I was scared of my daughter withdrawing from me, blaming me for what transpired. Bad parenting impacted my whole life, and I didn’t wish my daughter to face the same ordeal. She did have a ton of questions, too, that I didn’t feel the need to discuss initially. But I realised the importance of accepting and approaching even the most difficult conversations with a compassionate heart. Your child has the right to know, and as long as they are treated as adults, they feel safer and more secure with you. They understand, regard your sacrifices and challenges, and the hard work you put in to fulfill the role of both parents each day. They learn to love you more each day, especially when you share camaraderie with them.
Communication is Key
Yes, good communication can either bring you closer or keep you far away from each other. Every day I made it a point to converse about the most mundane to important events whenever we were together. Whether during dinner, bathtime, doing homework, chores, a short stroll in the park, a movie night, or even while shopping for their favorite toy, look for pockets to engage with your child so they feel included and involved with you. When they ask questions, answer them as objectively as possible without beating around the bush. When children feel respected and are taught with empathy and kindness without being corrected or scolded all the time, they find a secure space to reach out to you and share their joys and worries.
Another fantastic lesson that I learned from my relationships at work and home is the value of privacy. No matter what, never judge your child for what they tell you. Honor their need for privacy and space, even when you feel the desperate urge to advise or intervene. Being a single parent is associated with many lonely moments and that could trigger the constant urge to control. Give them your child the privacy they seek and when they tell you something important, keep it buried in your heart. As for my daughter and me, we share a strict pact to honor our vulnerable moments and disregard the urge to spill our conversations to others or use our weaknesses against each other. The most vital is your role here since you are the one who needs to lead the way. When you do it well, your child learns and begins to emulate what’s expected.
Single parenting could make you feel like you aren’t enough for your child. You might want to command and manipulate them, so they listen to you and obey. You are not alone; we are all guilty of doing it regardless of being a single parent or not. And in all fairness to you, it’s okay not to beat yourself about it. Parenting is a journey, and we learn over trial and error, just like anything else. Try these tips, and you’ll notice a difference. The progress is slow but totally worth it.
Shalaka Ohatker is an enthusiastic writer who writes about parenting, lifestyle, relationships, mindfulness, and the challenges of adulthood. The views expressed are the author’s own.