Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Single Living Skills: Parenting

Here's some advice I wish I would have received from a more experienced widow. Myra's girls were ages 5 and 10 when their dad died. Today they're strong and good young women, Myra's pride and joy. When I asked her permission to post this she said, "I would love to help young widows in any small way I can. I am going through that empty nest thing now and it presents a whole new set of challenges." So if anyone has some advice about empty nesting, bring it on!ferree

Single motherhood for the widow differs greatly from the single divorced mother with split custody. You don’t have someone to help make decisions concerning the children (or someone to share blame if it turns out not to be the right decision). This was the single most difficult thing for me to adjust to – you are it. This was a main topic of prayer for me. It does get a little easier with time.

Don’t let false guilt over your children losing their dad influence your decisions. Don't try to compensate with material things. Make the same wise decisions you would have made together. Leniency because of this episode in their lives will only harm them in the future and make your life more difficult.

Set your priorities. You can’t do everything! The housecleaning still seems to be single thing that still bogs me down, especially with the yard work in the summer and fall. The housework is at the bottom of my list usually. When I was first widowed, I would get so depressed with the house not staying clean like I used to keep it. For a couple of years I hired a lady to come in every couple of weeks to hit the high spots; back then I could actually afford it with the girls' social security benefits. Just that one thing made a big difference in my stress level.

Your kids can start helping also, if they aren’t already. If they can’t run the washer and dryer yet, they might be old enough to fold or hang and put their own clothes away, for example. It doesn’t have to be done like you would have done it – a few wrinkles don’t matter. Well-ironed clothes don’t get you into Heaven!

Assign them chores and give them a small allowance for completing them. It’s best not to get in the habit of giving them money without expecting responsible behavior in return. The good old chore chart works well with preschoolers and early elementary school age. Eventually you can do away with the charts when the chores become a part of their routine.

Finally, don’t feel like you have to get your children involved in EVERYTHING. I see-stay-at home moms tearing their hair out trying to get their kids to this practice then that one every day of the week. Unless you have a tremendously committed support group, you will be putting yourself in an impossible position. 

I made a couple of rules for extracurricular activities. 1) Each child was allowed one activity at a time. 2) They also had to finish out whatever activity they signed up for. For example, one daughter chose dance which was for the entire school year. The other wanted basketball in the fall and soccer in the spring.

I sent each of them to sleepover summer camp when they were old enough for at least one session each summer. This helped build independence and self confidence that they would not necessarily get at home, not to mention some “me” time for that week. 


  1. This is excellent advice for young widows with children...thank you to Myra for sharing!

  2. I thought it was great, too! We've benefitted from Myra's wisdom and experience a couple times now.Thanks Myra!

  3. Being a single parent is hard to handle at first. Taking care of the kids alone is such a hard task but coupled it prayers you can handle it as you want it to be. The blog helped a lot in encouraging single parent out there to not lose hope in what they have been through.. http://www.Parenting4Christians.com/blog


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