A 2019-’20 UN Women report titled Progress of the World’s Women states that about 4.5 per cent of Indian households are run by single mothers. This is close to 13 million households in the country. But, to be a solo parent and raise a child – a responsible one at that – is never easy. Here are some first-hand experiences and learnings shared by single parents who have worked to raise their kids in a responsible way.
You’re Raising Caring Individuals
Double parents’ – that’s a term many parents raising children alone identify with. Priya Venugopal, founder of the Single Parenting group on Facebook, says she promotes that term as single parents might be single in status but do double the job. “My older son was only seven and the younger was one when my husband and I separated,” reveals Venugopal, a technology integrator with a school for the last two decades. “It has not been easy, but I ensured the boys had a secure and safe environment growing up. Children with single parents learn at a young age that their parent is working double the time to make ends meet. My sons started helping me around the house, doing age-appropriate chores very early; children are intuitive that way. They have a lot of compassion and kindness toward other children. They are also highly independent. By negotiating day-to-day challenges, handling emergencies, and being there for the child, a single parent shows their child that it is possible to live and thrive on one’s own.”
Single moms are also often the sole breadwinners, and kids witness this first hand, so they understand how funds are allotted and learn to never overspend on unnecessary things. “My sons have seen me navigating through life independently and with dignity, and they stand by me through thick and thin,” adds Venugopal.
Single-parent families are also very close-knit. Relationships are more intertwined. Venugopal and her sons are very, very close. The children know their contributions to the family really count and are valuable. This helps raise their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
You’re Leading By Example
Single parenting comes with its own set of pros and cons. While it’s difficult and overwhelming for the parent and children alike, it also instills the ability to multitask and the value of self-reliance in the children. Still, it is good for you and your child to stay in touch with other people; it helps you feel connected to others and develop trust. Cherry Sebastian would have loved to be a happily married man, but, under the circumstances, he refers to himself as a happily divorced father, who has been a single parent for almost three years now. “From when he was really young, I have taught my son to be caring and trustworthy, to respect elders and fellow beings,” says Sebastian. “I am happy that, most importantly, he has learned patience from me. The maturity that he has developed at this tender age is because of what life has taught him.” By showing your child love and respect, talking honestly, and staying positive, you can alleviate your stress and help your child thrive in difficult times, Sebastian avers.
You’re Growing Mature Money Managers
In fact, besides being strong decision-makers, children of single-parent households also understand the importance of developing financial independence. “My daughter saw me handle the household, and how I used to struggle to keep things going,” reveals Rachel Gomes, a yoga teacher who split from her husband eight years ago. “Although she would want to go on trips with her friends, she would gauge the situation at home and then ask me. She also developed a strong sense of clarity about how she would want to lead her life, where to work, what age to get married and other plans. She was completely aware of what she wanted from life,” smiles Gomes. She believes that children in a single-parent household experience struggles firsthand and develop a sense of responsibility that works wonders for them in the future.