Single parents and their children constitute a rapidly increasing population. In the past single parenting was seen as a broken system, these units today provide a viable alternative to nuclear families (Kleist, 1999, p. 1). In looking at the characteristics of single parents raising healthy children, I will describe some of the challenges unique to single parenting, and review positive parenting techniques shown to be effective. Social Development has not prepared individuals to be single parents. Single mothers and single fathers need to establish strong support networks, personal friendships, and positive parenting skills. They need to learn how to synchronize the demands of work, home-care, and supervision of children (Benson, 1993). They need to enforce limits, rules, and boundaries consistently, and to transmit responsibility and values, in order to raise responsible, self-controlled, and healthy children (Cloud, and Townsend, 1998). They need to find ways to improve and maintain their self-esteem. Many single parents learn to live on reduced incomes, find acceptable ways to deal with non-custodial parent, and redefine their relationships with their children. These are but a few of the challenges facing single parents (Benson, 1993). Raising healthy children has more to do with the emotional well being of its members then on family composition (Heath, 1999). So then, how do single parents foster emotional well being amongst its members, while maintaining a full schedule of work, education, day care, deadlines, finances? It may be difficult and exhausting at times, but it is possible, and the rewards are many (Heath, 1999, p. 429). According to Heath, some of the areas affecting positive outcomes are family stability, self-esteem, and positive parenting (p 429). Our job as parents is to transmit
values and the tools necessary for our children to be healthy adults being able to function in the world responsibly and with self-control (Cloud, and Townsend, 1998). Family Stability
Children need to feel safe. They shouldn't have to worry about their needs being met. They need structure and routine in order to feel safe and know what to expect. Family conflicts need to be resolved in productive ways. Home should be a balance of function, security, and serenity. Family stability is fostered through family values and family traditions. Church communities, extended family members, community resources, and other families are good sources of social contexts providing values and tradition (Cloud, and Townsend, 1998). Self-esteem
Self-esteem starts developing at birth when an infant attaches to its mother. This attachment needs to continue and change throughout the child's life (Craig, 2002, pp. 214-215). Children need to feel valued and loved for being who they are. Children need to know they are important. Children need to start developing intra-awareness, and a conscience. Ways to help this include 1) Modeling self-esteem. 2). Spending time with your children and giving them attention. 3) Being a good role model 4) And being consistent in your parenting practices. Positive Parenting/Discipline
The qualities of positive parenting I noticed throughout my reading of various books and articles were: 1). To make expectations clear. 2). To make consequences clear. 3) To be fair and appropriate. 4). To reinforce positive behavior. 4). And to be consistent. Although these practices were similar, the authors used different language and strategies.
I will review a few of the framework of particular parenting programs and give information on obtaining and analyzing specific parenting programs. The Art of Discipline (DeFrancis, 1994) has a wonderful concise article on the World Wide Web. She suggests that parent's tailor their discipline approaches by keeping in mind the child's age and temperament. She reinforces because no two children are the same, what works for one child,...