I’ll get right to the point: single parents, stop blaming yourselves.
A really nice thing about being a “double” parent is that you get to be part of a team. When things are going well for your kids, you both get the credit. When things aren’t, well, no one can point a finger at you specifically. No one can be sure if one of you is more responsible than the other; they can’t pin it on you.
We single parents don’t have a teammate to hide behind.
This fact makes us vulnerable in two ways, in my opinion. It can make us unduly sensitive to the opinions of others IF WE LET IT. And it makes us more likely to blame ourselves for anything and everything – again, IF WE LET IT.
Don’t let it.
What am I talking about? Think about the following situations:
• Your 10-year-old gets into a scuffle at school
• Your daughter is deliberately mean to another girl
• Your child is excessively fearful
• Your son doesn’t put more effort into anything than he has to
• Your teenager is disrespectful to you
Tell me you didn’t feel an immediate rush of guilt just reading these examples! (I felt anxious just writing them.) You hear that voice in your head already: it’s my fault, it’s my fault, it’s my fault… Or maybe yours is, I’m not a good parent, I’m not a good parent, I’m not a good parent…
Why do we do this to ourselves? Do we think that kids with two parents don’t do these exact same things?
Of course they do. But maybe because we’ve so used to having to be responsible for everything, we often reflexively assume that we’re responsible for every child-related bump in the road too: responsible in the negative sense that we think we’re the cause of the bumps.
We’re being the best parents that we can, the best parents that we know how to be. Do you imagine that kids with two parents glide effortlessly and perfectly through life? That only kids of single parents encounter twists and turns along the way?
You know this is silly; but on an emotional level, because we single parents are it for our kids, we tend to feel that if only I had done this, or that, or the other thing, this wouldn’t have happened.
I’m going to repeat myself: stop it.
If you love your child with all your heart, if your kids are your first priority, if you always try to do right by them, then that’s all that you can do.
That’s all that anyone can do.
Including “double” parents.