Often society judges single parents for the occurrences that led to the circumstances of their separation from their partner. They may also end up being treated as misfits as they isolate themselves from everyone else.
Today on the Brunch Talk Show with Olive Najjuma, the guest, Elon Kihumulo a psychologist, teacher and mother explained how single parents can rescue themselves and their children from emotional jail.
Explaining the concept of family, Kihumulo said it is the first grooming and socialization place for children that introduces them to society while promoting their physical and emotional development meant to be imparted by both the mother and father.
“Whereas single parenthood is most commonly associated with mothers, and although the children may love her passionately, they are always desperate for the love of a father and the presence of a father figure in their life.”
According to her, for single parents to properly raise their children, they have to accept that they are in a crisis and make an effort to cover the gap between the father and mother.
“You have to accept that you're in a crisis and wear the hats of both parents. You will realize that men have that natural instinct of imparting discipline in their children and mothers usually prefer reporting wrong actions of children to the dads. Automatically, the child will reorganize themselves because they are strict. So for a single mother to instill discipline in a child, they have to take up the fatherly role and become this loving yet strict mother.”
Having added that men raised by single mums tend to make the best parents, Olive counter argued that most people experience the opposite whereby they become irresponsible fathers who leave the responsibilities of the home to their wives because they were raised by women who were sole providers.
The psychologist answered, “What we have to know is that raising a child is one of the hardest papers in the world and has no format but we can do our best and leave the rest to God. But even then, the parent is accountable for their product. Having an irresponsible father that was raised by a single mother shows that he was raised without accountability.”
Olive, relating to this, commented on how some single mothers raise their children without teaching them to be answerable for wrong deeds, thinking that disciplining the child might traumatize them and yet end up spoiling the child. She asked Kihumulo how then these tendencies could be addressed.
“These children are supposed to be taught how to reason. Parents in general have to develop the way their children think. You're developing the responsibility for their actions. So for a single parent you have to borrow a leaf from other people's children whom you admire,” she recommended.
She added that some single mothers develop a dysfunctional parenting pattern called ‘My baby Forever.’ “Yes you're feeling sorry for them and they are your baby forever, but is that the way the world will look at them?”
She described another wrong habit that single parents tend to practice which is transferring their pain to their children. “For example, some single parents might have missed out on love and they will deprive their children of love and affection which is wrong.”
According to Kihumulo, some single parents get abusive and physical with their children, others become political parents that keep on making unfulfilled promises to their children and others are people-pleasing parents. These actions create long-term effects on the children.
Moving forward, the teacher advised single parents to quit self judgment. “You might have become a single parent probably because of your behavior but forgive yourself and give yourself a second chance. Deal with your past and stop making regrets by facing your fears.”
“Secondly, don't live in denial; the fact that you're in single parenthood whether you want it or not is already a crisis. However, there's that other beauty created by children raised by single parents. When you accept that things are not right and that you need to have well-raised children, first you could seek professional therapy. Secondly, take care of yourself, and look inwardly; you'll realize there are things you need to change about yourself.”
“Then prioritize bonding with your children. You could be present as a parent but not relevant to them. Create bonding time with your children, for example having a meal together, cooking together and befriending them. Go on walks and hold their hands. This creates safety and confidence from your love and care. Your children will grow to be confident and proud of you and themselves,” she further advised.
Brunch Talk is hosted by Olive Najjuma Monica every Saturday from Midday to 1pm on RX Radio.