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Parenting

Parenting alone: 5 challenges widowhood places on families

Being a single parent is hard on anyone, but being a single parent as a widow brings its own set of challenges. Here are 5 challenges widowed parents must overcome.

NO RESPITE

When you’re a widow, you’re it. All day. Every day. No shared custody, no weekends off, no days off in the holidays. You can’t go for a weekend with your friends and leave the kids with your husband for a night, or go out for drinks after work.

Sure, you may get a babysitter occasionally, or your kids may be old enough to leave them alone for brief periods of time, but usually, these instances have to be planned, you can’t just take a time out whenever you feel like it. Besides, if you’re anything like me, you keep your alone-time outings short because the entire time you’re out you’re thinking more about your kids than you are about enjoying yourself.

For those of you who are in this situation, all I can say is try to find a respite solution. I’m fortunate that my kids go to Legacy camps twice a year, but these are only for the children of veterans. I know there are others though, so do yourself a favour and find out what’s closest to you. Your kids will love it, and you will be able to take a short vacation on your own. It’s definitely something I look forward to.

WHY?

As a widowed parent, particularly with young children, the question “Why did Daddy die?” comes up at random times and you have to be ready with an answer.

This is not a question to brush off or put aside. Kids need to have their feelings acknowledged and their fears relieved.

As a parent though, this question often feels like it comes out of the blue and can really mess with your emotions. The only way to ease this stress is to have an answer prepared in advance so that when your child springs it on you, you’re ready.

NOBODY TO ASSIST

You have to be available for all medical appointments, dental appointment’s, all school functions or events, all trips to the principal’s office. Unless you have a trusted family member close by, you can’t share these responsibilities.

Taking time off work to meet the needs of your children puts pressure on you and can affect your productivity and also make you irritable with your family.

MAJOR AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day: all these holidays serve as reminders to your family that one key person is missing from their lives.

Personally, I find Father’s Day the hardest. My two youngest children are still at an age where they make Father’s Day cards at school with the rest of the class. Only, for my children, the teachers encourage them to make something to share with me in place of their father and while I appreciate the sentiment, I can see the sadness in my children when they present me with their gift. We all know that they would rather give their gifts to their Dad.

GRIEF

When you’re a widowed parent, grief is a cloud that settles over your family and influences almost everything you do. Some days it’s relatively easy, but other days it’s so incredibly hard just to get out of bed that you have to force yourself to do it.

What’s worse, the cycle of grief for each family member is different so, as the parent, you have to be ready to give a bit of extra attention to the child that’s having the most difficulty at that moment, whilst still ensuring all the other children are being supported. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride that doesn’t stop to let you get off.

Being a single parent is difficult no matter what your circumstance, but being a widowed parent has it’s added challenges. The five challenges mentioned above are not an exhaustive list, but they are the ones I deal with most frequently.

What about you? What is the most difficult challenge you face as a widowed parent? Share in the comment.

Till next time xx

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