By Guest Blogger Suzy Fielders

Being a single parent is one of the hardest yet most gratifying things a person can do in life. This is best summed up in the simple statement; a single parent has to be both the mother and father. I can attest to this as I am a single parent myself of my six year old daughter Sarah. Just like with any other parent there has been laughter and tears, good and bad times, and everything in between, but the difference is it is doubled by two because of this dual role of being the only parent figure.

The most challenging thing about being a single parent is you have to make every decision on your own and are solely accountable for that decision. Couples have the opportunity to talk with each other about all parenting matters whether it is a medical issue, what school to send the child to or even the best rewards and punishments. Single parents do not have this. While they can discuss all of these items with family and friends when it comes down to it they ultimately have to face and decide everything for their child alone.

My daughter has had her share of medical ordeals from ear tubes for consecutive ear infections, to severe food allergies and even getting her tonsils and adenoids removed due to repeated strep throat. As a single parent the medical decision on all of these was up to me and I can certainly say each time was challenging. I’m blessed with amazing family and friends who have been there for me and Sarah, and always provided advice or a listening ear. The hard realization of a single parent though is even with this remarkable support system again the actual decision comes down to the parent.

Another major struggle is balancing everything. Single parents obviously have to work to support themselves and their child but also fit in every other thing such as cleaning and errands. We do not have a spouse to count on to help out even once in awhile, not even when we are sick and all we want to do is go to bed! While I make sure my daughter enjoys being a child I also expect her to pull her weight as it is just me and her. Even though she is six she still has responsibilities like setting the dinner table, making her bed and even always picking up her toys. The reality is she loves helping her mom out and it makes her feel important so I’d encourage all parents – married or single to give their children more responsibilities (just don’t over do it).

I’d like to end this blog by providing some tips I’ve picked up along my journey of being a single parent. My advice to other single parents is:

• Make time for yourself – read a book on your lunch break at work or watch some TV in the evenings after the little one(s) bedtime.

• Use your family and friends as a sounding board – they give you a chance to discuss all those hard parenting issues with someone else.

• Find other single parents for support & networking – while many couples with children will empathize, appreciate and respect single parents they will never truly understand this role since they’ve never had to live that way.

• Enjoy every minute of individual time with your child – it’s not likely for a single parent to stay single forever so make sure to treasure that time as it does form a special bond with your child.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Suzy! It is always helpful to see the lives of others from their perspective so that we can create empathy toward one another. We would love for other single parents to share their thoughts below as well!