South African single mothers: how to raise well-balanced children
Single parents deserve gold stars for all the work they do. Imagine handling two people’s jobs: paying the bills and trying to be an excellent role model for your child(ren). To appreciate all their hard work, we’ll shine a spotlight on what South African single mothers need to do to make their jobs easier.
South African single mothers read these success stories from around the world
Unfortunately, the world is not always kind to single mothers. Single fathers get a lot of sympathy and attention, but single mothers sometimes get a lot of judgement.
Bill Clinton was raised by a single mother. His father had died in a plane crash when he was three. So his mother had to step up to their duties. In the end, she successfully raised an eminent Law Professor and a President of the United States of America.
Another single mother success story is the life of Barack Obama. After a brief affair, Barack’s mother found herself pregnant with her lover’s son. She hadn’t planned to end up a single mom, but she understood that often, life gives people gifts and responsibilities they haven’t asked for.
Both women headed their families, raised their children single-handed, made all the important decisions around childcare and successfully raised great men. South African single mothers are also breaking barriers and successfully combining the roles and responsibilities of two parents. And yes, it is as overwhelming as it sounds.
The most common challenges South African single mothers encounter
• Low self-esteem
• Financial burden
• Challenges with child discipline
The difficulties can drown out the joys and love of motherhood. So, what can single moms do to cope with the challenges of parenting in an insensitive world?
1. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help
Parenting is incredibly difficult. But requesting for assistance can be even more daunting. Despite the difficulties, it is important to find the courage to say, ‘I need help’ or ‘Please help me’. Those words can be very liberating. Plus, you’ll be surprised to get support and assistance from the people you least expected to step up.
To make your life easier, call your closest family, friends, schoolmates, and colleagues. They might make out time to babysit while you get some rest. However, you must ask help from people you know, especially if you can trust them with your child.
Trust your intuition. If it feels right to accept an offer of assistance, please welcome it.
Always share your concerns with the South African single mothers in your online forum. Be specific about the kind of advice you need. Ask for help, support and advice. Be kind to yourself. Accept whatever is being offered to you.
2. Join a supportive community
The right support group will give you the opportunity to swap stories with other single mothers in South Africa and to learn from them as well. On Facebook, you can join the South African single mothers group. You will meet experienced mothers who will be glad to share advice and other resources.
You don’t have to limit yourself to social media sites. You’ll associate with fellow single parents in your kids’ school, at the park or even in religious gatherings. Surround yourself with supportive people who have walked the path you’re on. Soak up all the kind, positive words you can get from them. Those words will come in handy when things get extremely tough, especially when people start to judge you.
3. Recognize all the signs of burnout and tackle it early
Burnout and fatigue are the most common unhealthy emotions single parents often experience. If you allow them to grow, these negative emotions can lead to tiredness, anger, resentment and sometimes, insomnia.
Pay attention to your body. When you start feeling exhausted and depleted, take a break. Don’t wait until the burnout starts to poison your relationships and your work.
To cope, you can reach out to members of your community. If for instance, you are a member of the South African single mothers Facebook group, you can post a message explaining how you feel. Other single mothers will empathize with you and offer helpful advice.
Exercise won’t just make you fit and attractive, it also boosts your mood and gives you energy. Make out time to exercise. If you can’t afford to go out for a walk, jog or cycle, download fitness videos from the internet. What matters is that you are able to incorporate workouts into your day-to-day schedule.
Nighttime is for sleep. Resist the temptation to sacrifice sleep for (house or office) work. Research suggests that the quality of sleep you get determines your health. A good night’s rest can reduce symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Sleep has enormous benefits, but most of all, it can help you start your day on a happier note.
Final thoughts on South African single mothers
Single mothers don’t need to live with so much guilt and stress. If you’re a single mother as a result of divorce, death and separation, don’t blame yourself for everything that isn’t right in your life. You are a survivor. If Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s mothers could do it, then you can.
Resources: Association for Consumer Research