Many so called “experts” on divorce keep saying over and over that single parents who take time for themselves are being selfish and that their children should come first. While it is certainly true that your child should be the first concern of any parent, taking time for yourself is not selfish, but necessary in order for you to be the best parent you can be.
You Can’t Raise A Well Adjusted Child If You Are Not Well Adjusted Yourself
The simple truth is that you can’t raise a child that is well adjusted and happy if you are not well adjusted yourself. As a single parent you may be the only role model your child has so you owe it to them and to yourself to present them with a happy parent who has many interests. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your children for days on end while you pursue your own interests, but it does mean that you should have activities outside your home that stimulates you and makes you happy.
It isn’t going to harm your children if you occasionally have lunch with a friend, pursue a hobby you enjoy, take a class in something that interests you, or work at a career you love. In fact, your children will benefit more from having a happy parent who spends quality time with them, then they will from a parent that is always there and is unhappy and miserable.
You Can’t Live Through Your Children
Single parents who devote all their time and effort to their children become too invested in their children’s lives. They see every achievement of their child as their own, and every disappointment their child experiences they feel as well. Children need to feel pride in their own achievements and need support when they are disappointed. They cannot get this from a parent who sees their child as a complete extension of themselves.
Children need their parents, but they don’t need to feel suffocated by them, or feel as though they have to live their lives to fulfill their parents lost dreams. Taking time for yourself and following your own interests, allows your children to live their own dreams without worrying about disappointing you, their parent.
Recharging Your Batteries
Let’s face it parenting is a tough job, and there are simply times when you need to get away and recharge your batteries so that you can be the best parent you can be. Studies show that when parents are happy their children tend to be happier as well. This may be due in part, to the fact that when you get some down time to rest and recharge you have a tendency to have more patience and to deal with problems more calmly and effectively.
While your children always come first, making time for yourself and following pursuits that you enjoy helps you to be a better adjusted and well rounded parent who not only can parent more effectively, but who can set a good example for their children to follow.