Recently, one of my kids’ friends commented that our family was the most “normal” household she knew of. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly tickled. After all, in many ways our family is definitely outside the norm—bustling household of older teenagers, overseen by a forty-year-old long single mom who works mostly from home and at creative, non-traditional type jobs. We never know how many will be around for dinner and I’ve been a single parent for so long I can barely remember any other way of doing things. But, I think it is safe to say that for many of us single parents, we really want to normalize our families so our kids can grow up just feeling normal.
As the parent, we have the job of setting the tone for our families. The more normal and positive we feel about things, the more likely we will pass that on to our children. Even if the outside world raises some doubts, if we pass along strength and security to our kids, they will be able to let those outside judgments just roll right off them. Feeling comfortable to be ourselves and to let our family evolve into the special entity it is meant to be can take some time. It is common for a single parent to try so hard to MAKE this normal and “Brady Bunch” that we create an environment that feels anything but natural and anything but normal. We don’t have to work that hard to prove that we can be as good as any other family—we already are. Celebrate strengths and uniquenesses; stay loving, calm, nurturing and open, and have confidence that your family is perfect and evolving—these are the best ways I know to normalize the single parent family. While there will always be differences between a two-parent home and a single parent home, those differences don’t have to be damaging or major.