We do not have to do it all. There, I’ve said it again (I know for a fact that I have stated this mantra before). As single parents, we might be tempted to get roped in to trying to meet other’s unreasonable expectations—we are so determined to do a good job and juggle our responsibilities that it may not dawn on us that we are being asked to take on too much or expected to take on inappropriate problems, tasks, or situations. This is where we have to learn how to just say “No.”
I know full well that it is very easy to talk about saying “NO” but to actually figure out how to do it in real life, without losing jobs, friends, and damaging working relationships is another matter altogether. Besides, we sometimes do not have a clear understanding of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable. It can help to get an objective opinion. This is where that healthy friend with the great boundaries comes in especially handy. What would she do? What would a person who was not trying to be a people pleaser or who wasn’t wrestling with guilt or low self-esteem do? He might just say “I’m sorry, but you are going to have to handle that one on your own.”
If it feels unreasonable, or if you are feeling resentful in response, then there is a good chance that what is being asked of you is unreasonable. Remember that you do have choices and that it is up to you to advocate and look after yourself—no one else is going to. It may take some practice but remind yourself that as a single parent your resources are limited—you owe it to yourself and your kids to say “No” to those unreasonable requests and expectations.