By Mutryce A. Williams
Navigating "Island" Parenting is a collection of quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting.
This week’s issue features, the Single Parent-Tips for Raising a Child Alone by the Mayo Clinic Staff, An Excerpt from 21 Questions that Successful Parent’s Ask Themselves by Dr Ed Wimberly, Three Friends Every Mom Should Have by Sally J. Freedman, Parenting Quotes, and Parenting Insight – A Valued Relationship between Us and Our Children.
The hope is that this submission will make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter, even if it is for one person. Parenting is hard work. We need as much support as possible. Given our culture, as parents we are also not apt to ask for help, as it expected that we already know everything. This is a fallacy that we have to overcome.
As West Indians we also consider our way or style of parenting to be the best way of parenting, but any good thing can be made even better. I am also aware that with the heightened political climate that there is anxiety and tension, parents can become easily overwhelmed. Let us not forget life’s everyday challenges, any bit of advice or support that would help us navigate island parenting can go a long way.
Single parent - Tips for raising a child alone!
Raising a child on your own can be stressful. If you're a single parent, understand how to cope with the pressure, find support and nurture your child.
By Mayo Clinic staff
If you're raising a child on your own, you're in good company. Single-parent families are more common than ever. Know how to manage some of the special challenges single parents experience and what you can do to raise a happy, healthy child.
What are the most common single-parent challenges?
Child rearing can be difficult under any circumstances. Without a partner, the stakes are even higher. As a single parent, you might have sole responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day child care. This can result in added pressure, stress and fatigue. If you're too tired or distracted to be emotionally supportive or consistently discipline your child, behavioral problems might arise. In addition, single-parent families generally have lower incomes and less access to health care. Juggling work and child care can be financially difficult and socially isolating. You might also worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model for your child.
How can a single parent deal with these challenges?
To reduce stress in your single-parent family:
• Show your love. Remember to praise your child. Give him or her your unconditional love and support.
• Create a routine. Structure -- such as regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes -- helps your child know what to expect.
• Prioritize family time. Set aside time each day to play, read or simply sit with your child.
• Find quality child care. Although an older sibling can sometimes care for a younger sibling, don't rely on an older child as your only baby sitter. Be careful about asking a new friend or partner to watch your child. If you need regular child care, look for a qualified caregiver who can provide stimulation in a safe environment.
• Set reasonable limits. Explain house rules and expectations to your child — such as speaking respectfully and picking up after yourself — and be careful to enforce them. Work with the other caregivers in your child's life to ensure you're providing consistent discipline. Consider re-evaluating certain limits, such as your child's computer time or curfew, when he or she demonstrates the ability to accept more responsibility.
• Don't feel guilty. Don't blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for being a single parent.
• Take care of yourself. Include physical activity in your daily routine, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. Arrange time to do activities you enjoy alone or with close friends.
• Lean on others. Just because you're a single parent doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. Work out a carpool schedule with other parents. Join a support group for single parents or seek social services. Call on trusted loved ones, friends and neighbors for help. Faith communities can be helpful resources, too.
• Stay positive. Your mood and attitude can affect your child. It's OK to be honest with your child if you're having a difficult time, but remind him or her that things will get better. Try to keep your sense of humor when dealing with everyday challenges.
An Excerpt from: Parenting with an Attitude -- 21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves
Dr Ed Wimberly
Question #1: What do my kids hear me say about them?
What our kids hear us say about them helps create a road map for how they see themselves and what they decide they have to offer as human beings.”
What’s the Bottom Line?
It is inevitable that the expectations we have for our kids will become their first and most significant road map for developing a sense of who they are and what they have to offer the world. Having absorbed what they have observed, heard and concluded about what we expect them to be, they then set out in life to perpetuate what they heard about themselves as kids.
Since childhood patterns, both healthy and unhealthy, tend to continue throughout their lives, giving our kids positive and healthy expectations to live up to is essential. Our words, messages, and attitudes -- as well as our physical expressions -- will either convey messages and expectations that will shape, mold and encourage them to think well of themselves, or contribute to their becoming self-doubting adults who are less prepared to deal with life and the struggles that will come their way from time to time.
Please Reflect on these Questions:
1. What is one message you consistently heard as a child that you are either living up to, or down to?
2. What are some of the messages you are sending your kids that are shaping and influencing their conclusions regarding themselves, their lives, and others?
3. What is the most common message your kids hear from you regarding themselves?
4. What affect does that message currently seem to be having on them?
5. How is that consistent message from you likely shaping how they will be as adults?
Three Friends Every Mom Should Have
by Sally J. Freedman
There are three friends every mom should have. It’s very easy to become isolated as a parent, or to stop expanding your social network as you start to realize what being a parent really means. Here are three friends you’ll want to hunt down, no matter what.
This mom has a child about the same age as yours. You have similar parenting styles, and can commiserate together about the trying times in child’s development. You can laugh together as your children go through the same stages, and chances are, your kids will become friends with each other too.
Where to find her
-- She is everywhere. You can find her at your child’s activities, you can find her when you pick up your child from school or daycare, you can find her buying clothes in the kids department. She’s the easiest friend to find, because your kids will find each other.
This mom has a child who is older than yours. It could be about five years older, or it could be much older, it doesn’t really matter. This is the friend who reassures you that you aren’t damaging your child for life by making her do XYZ. She assures you that children are resilient little creatures, that it’s important to enjoy these early years because they go by so fast.
Where to find her
-- She might be the parent of a child your child’s age, as well as an older child. She might be a coworker or a neighbour, she might be the mother of your teenage babysitter. Look for her until you find her, because her input is priceless. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in “new to you” issues with your kids. Having a mentor mom can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as put things in perspective in a way that only a mom who has been there can.
This is the mom that you will, in turn, mentor. Put together a basket of essentials you know she’ll need. Bring her dinner. Offer to watch the baby while she takes a nap. Do the things that people did for you, or that you wished someone had thought to do.
Where to find her
-- Maybe you’ve met while you were both expecting, but this is your second child. Maybe she’s a coworker, maybe she’s at your gym or in your casual social circle. Seek her out and then proceed to encourage her, console her, and remind her that it really is all just fleeting.
Good, honest, hardheaded character is a function of the home. If the proper seed is sown there and properly nourished for a few years, it will not be easy for that plant to be uprooted. ~George A. Dorsey
Children have more need of models than of critics. ~Carolyn Coats, Things Your Dad Always Told You But You Didn't Want to Hear
There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings. ~Hodding Carter, Jr.
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. ~Charles R. Swindoll, The Strong Family
“What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give.” ~ P.D. James
“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.” ~ Haim Ginott
My Parenting Insight – A Valued Relationship between Us and Our Children
We have goals and dreams for everything, but is being a good parent at the top of the list, and when I say being a good parent, I don’t mean using markers that make us look good in the eyes of others, such as my child is “bright,” or my child turned out to be whatever the desired profession is, so I must have done a good job, because as parents this is the marker that we often use. The fact that our child or children did not end up in jail and the fact that our children are accomplished means success, but what about the other factors? Can you rightfully say that your child is a good, well-mannered, human-being? Can your rightfully say that your child is an empathetic and compassionate person, who knows the true value of what it means to serve others? Are you using yardsticks other than something in comparison to other people’s children, and other than those attributes that make you look good? I often say from what I have observed that as parents, parenting seems to be more about producing an offspring that validate us as individuals, that carry on our legacy, that make us look great in the eyes of society, rather than being that valued relationship between us and our children, rather than being about the child, and who this child is and want to become.
Mutryce A. Williams is a native St Kitts and Nevis whose writings embrace and mirror the West Indian life. She holds a Masters of Politics degree and is a doctoral candidate pursuing studies in Public Policy Administration with a double concentration in Terrorism, Mediation and Peace, and Homeland Security Policy and Coordination. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org