Hi. I’m Claudia. The professional single friend and mom.
Consciously I did not choose to be 39 and single. But I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that my choices have subconsciously led to my current relationship status.
My daughter, my family/friends, my work will always be important to me. I recognize most men won’t be ok with coming in forth/fifth on the priority list. Any who, this isn’t about why I’m single.
This is to share that for my daughter’s entire life (16 years, when did that happen?), I have been a single mom. I’d like to provide “pointers” on what has worked for me in raising an extremely intelligent, witty, confident, responsible teenager.
LESSON 1: Your Village is Your Saving Grace
You have to get used to being ok with asking for help. This was a tough pill to swallow for me because if there is ever a song to describe my independence it would be, Webbie’s Independent.
Once the tears and shock subsided from learning I was becoming a mom much earlier than planned, I quickly saw the key players in my village surface. MVP award goes to Christy, my sister! God knew what He was doing when He gave me her! Selfishness skipped her and went all to me – it’s gotta be the baby sister trait no one talks about! Even to this day, I know I could never pay her back for the sacrifices she made for me.
It was not all unicorns and rainbows though. I didn’t turn into a responsible parent overnight.
When I was not living up to the duty, she let me know! Get yourself the village who tell you hard truths in a loving, yet effective way!
My trusted family/friends/babysitters: my mom, my dad, G-ma, Ma, Amanda, Taylor, Katie, Jessica, Ava, Tiffany, Canada, Ann, Jennifer, Ashley (all of you), Angela, Morgan, Sloane, Tammy, Maureen, Omar, Jason, Raymond, John! See that list is long! And I’m sure I accidentally left someone off! These friends stepped in at a moments notice any and every time I needed them!
The awesome thing is that they all possess great attributes, many of which I don’t possess, so while they helped me in a pinch… the more important thing here was their influence on my daughter! They are fun, they are creative, they are caring, they are smart, they value family, they possess varying viewpoints, they are diverse!
LESSON 2: Confident Children Do Great Things
Encourage your child to be confident and independent!
Gosh how in the world does one instill confidence?! Well for me, my confidence came from my father! The simple phrase, “Kid, you make me proud” still hits in a special way. I functioned in a way that I could make my dad proud as often as possible! My dad showered me with loving and genuine compliments.
Yes, he told me I was pretty. But what meant more is when he told me I was capable!
Let kids feel capable!
So when I was gifted a daughter, I looked back on my youth and figured out what worked for me. Then passed those pointers on to my daughter’s father. Sure enough, he listened and sure enough we have an uber confident teenager. By the way, I don’t lack confidence and neither does her father.
It is a little easier to instill confidence if you yourself have it, so look in the mirror and be proud of your journey!
Also girls seek the kind of attention and respect their father gave them from other men as they get older… so be mindful of this and make sure your daughters have healthy examples of attention and respect! They will accept the healthy attention they saw as a child and command the respect they deserve as they are older.
Let them sleep alone and self soothe, let them fumble through a puzzle, let them think on their own! Let them do their own homework. You aren’t trying to prove you understand what they are being taught in school. They are trying to prove that. It might cost you bragging rights of honor roll but you’ll reap the benefits of them understanding how to teach themselves and overcome obstacles.
Some of the most valuable lessons are learned when they the mess up. Now I’m not saying to be absent, but watch from afar and step in as needed.
Try not to be that helicopter parent! Confidence can’t be built in a child if the parent is constantly inserting themselves in an effort to “save them”. Then their confidence is only built on the child knowing their parents will always intervene.
Don’t enable them from thinking on their own! I constantly tell my daughter she is at a stage in her life where she can make most of her decisions BUT if I see it’s a bad one I have the ability to override her. I’m confident in how I raised her, therefore I’m confident she will make good decisions. I always end it with, “Don’t prove me wrong, Bug”
LESSON 3: Structure. Structure. Structure!
Bedtimes, chores, defined eating times and locations, personal space… all that and MORE! Kids thrive in a structured environment! You are the adult, you make the schedule. Simple as that! Anything else is an excuse. (Harsh… sorry… wait, nope not sorry)
LESSON 4: Co-Parenting Benefits the Child
Bitterness on demise of the relationship does NOTHING! I learned this hard lesson from my daughter’s father (sorry not sorry, but the term baby daddy makes me cringe. Don’t use that! It’s disrespectful and not funny to most single moms. Equally as offensive is baby mama—never use in an ear’s shot of me).
Once I focused on the mindset of judging my ex on the father he is rather than on the partner he isn’t, my sanity and happiness increased.
He IS a good Dad! That’s it! That’s all he is supposed to be! (Reread that and let it sink in).
Our daughter did not choose to enter this world with separated parents, but she should be afforded the loving, team environment every child with married parents has. That team environment has been the guiding force behind every major decision her father and I make.
She knew quite early that mom and dad have different homes but still have the same goal in raising her. There is a mutual love and respect her father and I have for one another. I can speak with a great sense of pride that in nearly 16 years she has never even attempted to play mom against dad or vice versa.
She has seen first hand mom and dad are a team! When I ground her, he follows through on the punishment too. If he is having issues with an emotional teenager, he calls me to help him calm her down. If she needs a stern talking to that aren’t as effective coming from mom, I call him. Just like in a job or on a sports team, you don’t have to like everyone on the team, but you do have to respect them and afford them the opportunity to participate.
There have been ugly years in our journey where I didn’t like her father and I’m sure there are times he didn’t like me, but we muscled through them for the benefit of our daughter.
Be the example of love and respect to your child. Show them the value in taking the higher road. There is no greater opportunity to teach and live that lesson than co-parenting.
Vent about adult issues with friends and family. But also make sure little ears are never around!
LESSONS 5: Have Faith
Teach children there is something greater than themselves! For our family, part of our village is the Catholic faith. This isn’t a plug to be Catholic (although it’s great and I highly recommend). This is a plug to state that showing kids they are not the world and that there is something bigger and greater out that that can only be explained by faith.
Faith at a minimum teaches them that they must lead with love, hope, faith, and compassion. These are major components in raising well-adjusted kids. Whether you are Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, etc… teach your children about your faith!
LESSON 6: Live in the Moment
Don’t attach your happiness solely to an event. Your happiness is controlled between your ears, not by marriage, promotions, etc! Children get their happiness from the people they spend the most time with.
So make a mindful effort to be happy!
Face life’s difficulties and disappointment while also taking time to enjoy it’s pleasures and successes.