BEING a single parent is tough, and if you have a child who displays challenging and difficult behaviour and you suddenly find yourself dealing with this alone, you could be forgiven for going into a blind panic.
As well as being the primary carer for all your children, possibly the only breadwinner in the family, and the housekeeper, cook, and gardener, you now have to factor in extra work if you have a child with behavioural issues.
Dividing your Time
It is important to treat all of your children fairly, giving them all the same amount of time and attention and this can be difficult if one of your children is more demanding or needs more of your attention than the others.
You may start to feel overwhelmed and as if you can’t cope very well, and it is important that you recognise this and ask for help and accept any offers of support. Your health and wellbeing is of paramount importance because if you are unwell, stressed and tired then you will not be able to cope very effectively, so make sure that you look after yourself as well as you can.
Stay in Touch with your Support Network
Chances are that you are already receiving a certain level of support via your GP, school, health visitor of other specialist, and therefore it’s important that you stay in touch with them and let them know about your changes in circumstances.
Change can be hard for all of us, especially for children. However, children who struggle with behavioural difficulties often respond badly to change and find it very difficult to adjust to changes in circumstances.
Planning and Preparation
Becoming a single parent is not always planned, and can happen as a result of many different reasons and circumstances. Explaining the new situation to your children can be one of the hardest things that you ever have to do, and a child who suffers from ADHD, Autism or a similar condition may well take it harder than a child who doesn’t. You will need to find the right time to gently explain to your child what has happened and why.
The Absent Parent
If at all possible try to maintain a good working relationship with your ex partner, if only for the sake of your children. Continuity and contact are important, and may help you children deal with the change in their family structure better. It may also help you to know that perhaps every other weekend; you will be able to plan to have some time off to do things for you. Relaxing, catching up with friends or just spending time doing something such as reading a book, will all recharge your batteries and help you to cope better in the coming week.
Look after Yourself
Bringing up children on your own is hard and presents many challenges. Remember to set yourself realistic goals and manage your expectations as well as you can. All children need a loving, stable environment in which to grow and develop and with help, planning and time you will be able to achieve this.
Support groups and networks are very useful and speaking to like minded people in a similar situation can really help at times when you feel alone and unable to cope. If you do not already have a support group, contact your GP or local health centre and they will be able to help you.