Single parents face unique challenges when it comes to raising children. Dr. Ruth Senyonyi, a counselor with Bank of Uganda, however says the principles of parenting do not change. “It is your duty to raise your child into a responsible person, no matter what happens in life,” she notes. Senyonyi elaborates the four main areas:
No matter what has happened to the family, whether it is divorce, separation or death, if the children are involved, the family structure must be maintained.
The things you have always done at home, such as what time you wake up, meal times, time for home work, and time for church, should be maintained.
These repeated procedures create a routine for the family and helps to secure a safe home environment for the children. If you disrupt them because one person has left, you will be in real trouble. Bringing different women at home will disrupt the security of the home.
One way you can bring up responsible children is by building particular skills and values in them. This you do by observing what each of them is good at and help nurture it.
You should exhibit the things you want your child to become, because example is the best teacher. If it is hard work, you don’t just sit at home and watch television and expect your children to be hard working. Important values like honesty, respect, forgiveness and generosity must also be passed down to children.
All these character traits will make your children responsible adults, no matter what would have happened in the past.
Yes, one parent might not be around, but that is no excuse for not bonding with your children. The best way to do it is by spending time with them. Let them share their good and bad experiences with you.
Listen to their hopes and dreams and you will be bonding with them. They will feel they are not alone.
Another way you can help the children is by not being the only centre of their focus. Allow them to bond with other trusted people like church members and with relatives like grandparents and aunts.
These can help the children in areas where you cannot. For instance, if you are a single father and find it difficult to talk to your girls about menstruation, an auntie or a female friend is best suited for that.
Do not neglect discipline. The children might have lost one parent, but they should not indulge in self-pity. Encourage them to move on and be the best they can be.
The death or departure of one parent is no excuse to avoid administering the necessary discipline.
How would you want your child to be 25 years down the road? The way you treat them now will determine that.