Thirty percent of children are brought up in single-parent homes.  For the most part, single-parent homes are lead by women, although some are also lead by men.  As a single parent, you may wonder if you’re destined to have problem, underachieving children. Of course not, but your job is more difficult, and there are greater risks for your children.  Here are some simple rules to guide you—simple only in that they're few and straightforward.  In reality, they're terribly difficult for single parents to negotiate.  Pat yourself on the back for each successful day; you deserve it.

  • Find a career direction for your life to give you a sense of purpose and to build your personal self-confidence. Making your children your only purpose gives them power and causes them pressure that will be too stressful for them to manage.
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  • Find some adult social outlets for yourself. Don't feel guilty about enjoying yourself as an adult away from your children. Single-parent support groups can be helpful.

  • Find a reliable childcare provider or day-care facility for your children.  Consistency in care givers and surroundings is very important for youngchildren.

  • Treat your child as a child, not a toy to be played with nor an adult to be depended upon.  Do not share your bed with your child (except during thunderstorms or in the morning).  That is an adult status that you should maintain should you wish to have another adult partner.

  • If your children come home from visitation and are unruly, don't blame that poor behavior on the other parent.  Instead, tell them you're pleased they had a nice time, and if you can manage a nice comment about the other parent, they'll settle down more easily.  They need to know they can love you both.

  • image3Don't tell your children you will love them more than anyone else forever, or a new partner will cause them to believe you deceived them.  They will feel rejected.

  • Take time (you have little) to enjoy your children's achievements, keep them involved in activities, and encourage them to share home responsibilities.

  • Have family meals together at least a few times a week instead of just nibbling food when people are hungry.

  • As a single parent, you are a very important role model to your children.  Be aware of what you say and do.  They are imitating you.
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  • Stay close to extended family, if possible.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents help your children feel surrounded by love.

  • Remember, many successful and happy children have been brought up in single-parent families.


Below are three special rules for single mothers who are parenting boys:

  • image5Boys should have adult males to serve them as role models.  Find effective role models for your boys.  Uncles, grandfathers, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, sports coaches, and Big Brothers may all be helpful to your sons in learning to be comfortable with their masculinity.

  • If you don't view your children's natural father as an effective role model, absolutely don't tell your boys how much they look like and remind you of their father, especially when you’re angry.

  • Avoid power struggles with your children's father.  If their father mistreats you and shows open disrespect toward you, your sons are likely to imitate this powerful but disrespectful behavior. 


©2007 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.