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Single Parenting! PDF Print E-mail
(1 Vote)
Written by Savvy Mag   

Single parent families are becoming an increasingly common phenomena. Here is a look at some of the issues that such families face...

Every child has a dream. Of perfect family love, togetherness rock solid parents, roof over all, happily ever after. Sometimes these dreams come unstuck. In contemporary India, single parenthood is becoming in­creasingly common, because of divorce, death or absence.


Radha shed her abusive alcoholic husband after 18 years and three kids, and he has disappeared without a trace. Tina walked out on her roving husband, into her paternal home, with her two-year-old daughter. Sukumaran’s wife works as a nurse in the Gulf and comes home annually for 2 months; he has to care for their 8-year-old son. Rehman lost his wife to a cancer and has two daughters under 12.

Children of single parents can be victims or survivors, depending on how you handle them.


The wrong way: When Bosco lost his wife who was a fun loving music aficionado, he did not let his children party for a year. No music was played at home. The name of the dear departed was never mentioned before the widower lest he break out in anguished tears. The children tip-toed in a circle of anxiety and guilt. He expected the whole family to stay stock-still and pay homage to his dead mate.

The right way: Meenakshi’s husband died in a car accident in front of her two older children (she has three). She gathered the reins of her household firmly, without the slightest trace of self pity and raised her children alone. She is doing a wonderful job of being both parent and bread winner. After the initial grieving, the children speak lovingly, admiringly and unselfcon­sciously about their father. They are secure and confident that they were, are and will be loved.

CHILDCENTRIC LIVING

Each couple, when they separate, has to create living arrangements to suit its circumstances. Perhaps the children spend the week with one parent, and visit the other on weekends and share vacations. Sometimes two children are split between parents. Both parents must stay faithful to the schedule. At the same time the children should be allowed more flexibility.


Support one another as parents. Keep communication lines open between yourselves and the grandparents to avoid emotional black­mailing from the child. Never grill the child about the other parent’s toings-and-froings, or bad mouth the absent one — which makes the child uncomfortable under either roof or resent the grumbler. The best way of keeping the love and respect of a child who has two homes is to keep him out of the crossfire.


Sometimes, children in their teens may suddenly turn against the home-providing parent and insist on living with the other.


THE ABSENT FATHER

When a child has no father he or she is affected, come what may.


You as a mother may feel justifiably lonely, bitter, angry and your moods can boomerang on your child. The only way is to get on with your life. Do not centre all your thoughts, affection or activities around your child. Keep in touch with friends, hobbies, recreation; carry on with your career. A happy welcoming home and a cheerful outgoing mother is what makes a child feel safe.


Have fun with your children, but share their world, rather than having them share your tastes and interests, which makes for precocity.


Every boy and girl needs a father figure to demonstrate physical competence, adventurousness, assertiveness, new skills. Grandfathers, your brothers and cousins, teachers, coaches, who see the child regularly are the best role models. A boy without a father needs the company of boys, in and out of school — so open out your home to his buddies.


THE ABSENT MOTHER

Businessman Sanjeev and Sonali’s marriage disintegrated without scandal or shouting, just by silence and a growing sense of separation. Sanjeev gave Sonali a flat, a hefty alimony, on condition that his son and daughter stayed with him. This was eight years ago. Sanjeev organises their meals, works flexitime so he is at home when they return from school. From 6 pm to 8 pm while he teaches Tai Chi as a hobby, the children are ferried to their mother, who supervises their homework. The children are confident and carefree. They fare well in school and excel at sports and music.

Fathers have a more arousing influence on their children. As a working father you should try and reserve your after work hours for your children on a dependable regular schedule. Be lavish with love, touch and time. Together time does not mean staying glued to the child. Chat, connect, eat together, but get on with your respective tasks and hobbies.


Be definite and firm, specially with your daughters who are able to wrap you around their little fingers. Discipline is one of the most loving and desirable gifts that a father can give — even if it’s a grounding or a smack. Entertain at home and take the child along if you’re socializing with another family. Lean lightly on your parents and siblings. Your child will create a mother image from photographs, memory, family stories and relationships with other appealing women.


NEW RELATIONSHIPS

If you start to see other people of the opposite sex, your child can jump to the conclusion that you are trying to replace the other parent. “I can’t even speak softly on the phone in front of my teenag­ers,” complains Anuradha, a divorcee in her early 40s. “They bombard me with questions. They wait up for me with reproachful eyes whenever I go out. I always hurry home or call up often, even though my mother lives with me.


Children as a rule are conservative, very judgemental and differ­ent. Ishita may express rivalry and jealousy about every female who appears on her father’s doorstep; Sarita may become competi­tive with her mother for the attention of the male friend. Priyanka expresses eagerness for a new daddy, her sibling Preeth vociferously opposes it.


Here are some guidelines for socialising and dating as a single parent.

  • Be discreet and casual when receiving a new opposite sex friend in front of your children.
  • Don’t apply newfound sexual freedom before them. Witnessing your infatuation with a gaggle of partners over a period of time can make your children conclude that they are losing their place in your heart, that you lack discrimination, are promiscuous, or that many affairs are better than are.
  • Never let your children see you in a physically affectionate situation which can be shocking.
  • Don’t quake when your child is opposed to a new friend, nor exaggerate approval because your child wants a new parent.
  • Don’t make constant comparisons, good or bad between the new friend and your ex.
  • Don’t ask your children about the suitability of remarriage, while you have decided on the partner. Then you must tell, not ask.

Many single parent families are successful in picking up the pieces and putting them together. Many things may change, but the family still remains a family, which is somehow even stronger for the children concerned.


-- Ipshita Sengupta
 



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