Parenthood has historically been the responsibility of two individuals. However, this is gradually changing as the rates of single-parent families are on the rise. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey report of 2014, nearly 50% of all children in Kenya do not live with both biological parents. These statistics are on the rise, indicating the trend may continue. Therefore, as we thoroughly scrutinize the negative implication, we ought to find proper ways to deal with the already existing ‘predicament’.
Often, single parenthood is associated with single motherhood being more common than single fatherhood. Unfortunately, this form of childrearing is assumed to resonate with unhappiness, desperation, and negativity. That is unlikely when the choice is for the wellbeing of the baby. Among the possible causes that result in such families are imprisonment, absconding parental duties, death, divorce and separation, and choice.
Regardless of the reason, this form of arrangement is not without its challenges. The parent may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities that await them, the high expectations, and the harsh societal judgments do not make it easier. Further, guilt, financial stress, and decreased self -care may be experienced. Children may be emotionally unstable, have slow cognitive development, and poor school performance (Bradley &Corwyn, 2002). With the challenges already highlighted, how then can a family work around the situation?
Dealing with the situation
- Ask for help from friends or family members. It is okay to have a support system because the brunt of raising your child alone can have a toll on you
- Maintain a daily routine. This helps the child feel secure, organized and that things are in control
- Be consistent with discipline. It can be so easy to let mistakes go unpunished but let your child know that you will not tolerate bad behavior
- Answer questions honestly when addressing questions about the missing parent. It helps create a bond of trust between you and the child
- Treat the child as one and not as a mini adult whom you can find comfort in
- Avoid guilt-tripping yourself especially in cases where you cannot give the child the same environment they previously knew
- Be a present parent by setting time to spend with your kids
- Have your alone time so you can rejuvenate
- Budget your expenses. Considering finances have been reduced, manage your finances effectively by having a budget
- Stay positive. Avoid negative emotions and utterances around the children
- Contradict negative stereotypes about the opposite sex. Consider including members of the opposite sex who are not romantic partners to show your child that it is possible to have long-term positive relationships with members of the positive sex
- Allow the boy child to interact with male family members if you are a single mum and the opposite applies for the girl child. This will help them understand their various roles
- If dating a new partner, they should treat you and the child with respect
The aforementioned strategies will help make the process easier. Nevertheless, as a society, we need to be kinder and helpful as this will help supplement the parent’s efforts. Instead of passing the wrong judgment, let us learn to speak positivity and give the family time to find their balance. Making this situation bearable should be our cardinal role because it is here with us and here to stay.