You've Got This! Managing Single Parenting

 Kirsty Armstrong has experienced the trials and tribulations of being a single parent from several perspectives. She believes in shaking off the negative labels and just going for it.

My Family Care asks Kirsty: Not all families are better together, but becoming a single parent is a huge commitment. Whether you take care of your children full time or make sure you spend as much time as possible with them, what have you found the challenges and rewards of single parenting to be?

Why should you shy away from greatness?

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them" - Twelfth Night (Act III, Scene V).

This is exactly how I feel as a single parent!

I have to be great, and this has been thrust upon me. I also feel as though I can succeed. Why be afraid of greatness?

I come from a long line of single parents

My grandmother, being a catholic of the '50s, decided that she would raise her children alone when her husband died in his early forties. She raised my father and his two siblings alone, and is still alone fifty years down the line.

My parents split when I was very young. My mother was a single parent, and raised us (mostly) alone. She passed away when I was in my early teens and we moved in with my father. He then took the reins and raised both my eleven year old sister and I, alone.

I have also spent the last few years raising my children alone. I guess I have seen most of the trials and tribulations that come with single parenting from many perspectives.

There is still an unfortunate taboo surrounding being a single parent. The media and many government publications portray single parents in a negative light - creating a smear that has made being a single parent a little embarrassing.

But it's worth remembering that regardless of our social standing, sometimes even those in royal situations find themselves single parents - Prince Charles became a single parent, as did Princess Diana before her death.

There is no shame in being a single parent

Plans for parenting as a couple are made and life, inevitably, dictates alternative paths. I have found single parenthood challenging at times.

  •   Over the years I have had to become half man, half woman. I have had to be mum and dad to the children
  •   I find myself playing Devil's Advocate in my own head about decisions I am making, discipline, and if I am doing it all the right way
  •   I have been the sole breadwinner, had sole responsibility for their learning, eating habits, manners, how they view the world and the way they spend or save their money. Mine have also been the only two shoulders they cry on.

Saying this, no parent can do it totally alone. My father helps with school pick-ups, and helps here and there when he can. All single parents need an extra pair of hands at times, whether it is a neighbour, a nanny, or a grandparent - we all need this in order for ourselves, and the children, to remain sane. 

It's hard, but completely worth it when your children are growing up. You feel great when they do well on Sports Day, earn certificates, or someone compliments you on their character.

Know that you are appreciated

For me, I love it most of all when they ask to get into my bed at night! I have heard numerous excuses now: "I've had a bad dream""I've fallen out of bed and my leg hurts""your room is warmer than mine," among others.

They just love to be near you, and it makes it all worth it when they appreciate you and the things you do, and just want to be close to you.

I hope that they continue to grow and develop into grounded adults, tasting all that life throws at them - and being able to cope. To know that they are capable and kind, and - if I'm honest - they have time for me when I am older. That would be my final reward.

Kirsty Armstrong, Customer Service Consultant