While being the single parent of a teenager can be very challenging, there are some fairly simple steps you can take to help reduce the overall stress you may be experiencing on a daily or weekly basis.
1. Make sure you take time for yourself.
It is very easy to get caught up in all the demands of work, family, appointments, etc. but it is critical that you take time EACH week for yourself. Whether taking walks, a warm bath, having a favorite hobby or going out for dinner with a friend, you need some time for yourself where you are not responsible for the needs of others.
2. Schedule a time to discuss bigger issues / decisions with your teenager.
This can help the “on the fly” demands that your teenager may place on you. I have worked with parents who have found it helpful to schedule one or two times per week where they are available to just focus on talking with their teens. This could be over dinner, while going for a walk or while driving to a schedule appointment. I have also had parents tell me they have their teenager email or text message them if they need to talk so that they can set up a time later in the day that is convenient for both (this is a sign of the times!). This allows for the conversation to take place when they can be fully focused on their teenager’s needs and reduces the instances when their teen badgers them about something while they are in the middle of doing something else.
3. Allow other adults into your teenager’s life.
All parents, but particularly single parents, should welcome appropriate adults into their teenager’s lives. This should not been seen as a weakness or as a sign that a parent cannot do “their job” effectively. Teens benefit from different perspectives and from learning from different adults. Allowing other adults (a coach, neighbor, Aunt, Uncle, older cousin, etc) to play a role in your teenagers life not only takes some of the burden off you but also allows them to have a richer experience in general. You will always still be the parent and make the final decisions!
4. Have your own support network.
Nobody can do everything on their own. As a single parent, it is important that you have your own support network. As a parent, you don’t want to burden your children with your fears or worries but you do need some outlet for yourself. Using extended family, friends or other single parents for support and advice is invaluable and can really help reduce your overall stress. Being socially connected to others has many positive benefits for all adults and can be especially helpful during the unpredictable teenager years.
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