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Parenting is not an easy job, and being a single mom may can be tougher. It can be a roller-coaster of physical, emotional, financial as well as socially challenging moments. But worrying is never going to be the solution to your problems. Yes, raising a girl child in times when gender equality issues are being discussed even as crimes against women are shooting, can truly be challenging. So, on the occasion of National Girl Child Day, we bring to you tips on how single mothers can raise their girls.
Single or not, positive parenting is very important while raising kids. Delving deeper into the world of single mothers, HealthShots reached out to Dr Trideep Choudhury, consultant psychiatrist, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, New Delhi.
Single motherhood may be because of various reasons like divorce, death of spouse, unmarried single mother or single parenthood by the mother out of choice. Since single mother by choice intentionally decides to parent alone, the associated parental conflict is less seen here. Dr Choudhury notes that it is found in studies that if the divorce resulted in a more amicable relationship between the parents, then children are less likely to show negative effects. Positive aspects of parenting like warmth, sensitivity, acceptance and parental psychological well-being lead to positive child adjustment and development. But conflict, hostility, rejection and parental psychological problems are associated with negative outcomes for the kids.
Single parenting by a mother of a girl child has its own challenges, as she has to handle the responsibility of child care and child-rearing by herself. There may be a possibility of gender discrimination towards the female gender which might affect the mother’s child-rearing abilities and restrict the daughter’s growth as an individual. Nonetheless, it is very important that the mother gives positive attention to the girl child.
The expert feels that parenting should not be prescriptive. Instead, the mother should make sure that she is letting her daughter be who she is.
It is necessary to maintain an open communication with the girl child. While communicating with your daughter, it is important to maintain proper eye contact. You should have caring facial expressions while listening patiently to her. At times, showing physical affection like hugging helps. Getting involved and showing interest in her activities strengthen the bond. It is important to appreciate and acknowledge her achievements. Such an approach will help to build a positive self-image for your daughter. Such responsive interactions will reinforce your daughter’s feelings of security and safety. This will give your child the confidence as she explores the world.
You should encourage positive behaviour from your daughter. It is imperative to set clear rules to achieve desired behaviour from her. Rules can be communicated through positive statements about how to behave towards each other. It is necessary to involve her as much as possible in making the rules. Your child should understand why these rules are being made and the consequences for breaking the rules. Routines should be set to make it clear who should do what, when, in what order and how often. It is necessary to be consistent while enforcing the rules, says the expert.
Sometimes, your daughter might feel strong emotions like anger and sadness, yet she might find it difficult to express it appropriately. In such occasions, you can step in and help your child identify and understand the emotions. Then you can work with your child on a list of things she could do when she notices strong emotions building up. This would help to strengthen the mother-daughter bond and also prepare your child to face adverse situations and emotions with confidence.
It is very important for you to stay connected and socialise with your neighbours, friends and relatives by planning activities with them. Involve your daughter while planning the activities. This would teach her social skills about how to interact with the outside world by observing and practising through real-life experiences. Listening to others will help her have a better understanding of how others feel.
Being a single parent might be hard on you at times. As a single mother, you might compare yourself with other parents and judge yourself harshly. During times of stress, single parenting might add to the pressure and you might feel upset, sad or angry. That might reflect in your behaviour towards your daughter. When this happens, it’s important for you to let your child know that you love her, and that your feelings and reactions are not about her. It is important for you to acknowledge your own feelings and seek support from others at times. This would help you to stay happier, healthier. Ultimately, you will be able to look after your child in a better way.
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