Parents are the primary educators of their children. Parenting is therefore, a team-work of a father and a mother. This is because each has a unique way of training a child.
While a father does it through discipline, general guidance and physical activities, the mother does it through talking, tenderness, affection and intimacy.
Team work of both parents therefore give the child the best opportunity to develop holistically.
Unfortunately, many children do not benefit from the training of both parents. They have to do with single parenting, a process of child training in which only one parent cares for a child.
This is increasing fast in Ghana and everywhere.
For example, a study showed that about 80 per cent of black American children live with single parents.
It is also known that in Ghana, more than half of children are born outside marriage.
Why single parenting?
Today, most marriages fail. in fact global studies show 60 per cent of all marriages fail. Some couples also opt for separation and stay apart. There are also cases of birth outside marriage.
It is also known that in the United States, 85 per cent of black American children live with single parents.
Some births are unplanned and some women decide to have children outside marriage and care for them.
Death and career issues also lead to single parenting. It is also known that most single parents are women.
Single parenting is difficult. A parent has the overload of doing a job meant for two – mum and dad. Emotionally, it may create torment and panic.
It is difficult to be patient when you are tired and worried about struggling to raise children alone. Single parents are therefore, more likely to be depressed, impatient, stressed, inclined to be angry and insensitive to their children.
Financially, single parenting reduces family resources, especially money. Children may be worried, withdrawn and afraid of abandonment.
Some develop behavioural problems because a single parent can’t do all for his or her children. Socially, single parents may face stigmatisation.
In Ghana, we hear terms like ‘born one’ or ‘pulling a trailer.’
What you do depends on the time of being a single parent, your personality, family, income and educational level.
First come to terms with your situation and avoid blaming yourself, your partner or children.
Set realistic goals. Take one day at a time and keep busy with what you enjoy doing.
Don’t spoil your children or treat them harshly: Teach and establish child-friendly rules. Do not expect them to take adult roles they cannot handle.
You must also be aware of how much information they can handle.
Plan: Organise your time according to your needs and the needs of your children so that you can be available to your children. Your time with your children is the greatest need.
Give your children lots of love. You may also develop support systems from reliable friends, family and church members.
If you decide to marry again, let your children understand your needs.
Studies show children develop emotional bond with the single parent and anyone coming in is seen as an enemy.
Many children therefore, oppose the remarriage of their single parents and some develop behavioural problems when they see someone taking the place of an ‘absentee’ parent.
The epidemic called single parenting
Some children in primary schools are known to be sexually active and some get pregnant.
According to a report, last year, there were 16,000 teenage pregnancies in the Ashanti Region and 10,000 in the Upper West Region.
It is also on record that last year, 60 girls in a small district in the Ashanti Region couldn’t take the Basic Education Certificate Examination due to pregnancy.
Last year, in the Sunyani District, 300 girls between the ages of 10-12 got pregnant.
It is on record that Lina Marecela Medina de Jurabo, a Peruvian now residing in the Peru capital city, is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history to give birth at age five, seven months and 21 days!
Ghanaian children may be getting closer to this record. Children who are too young to take care of themselves are giving birth to children. Single parenting has reached a high level in Ghana.
It is best to avoid single parenting because it’s difficult to handle. However, if it happens to you, come to terms with it.
See the positive side of single parenting; it improves your parenting skills, you have fewer conflicts, greater autonomy and independence to pursue your personal goals.
Children of single parents are likely to share more household responsibilities and later be more independent and responsible.
You must therefore, never give up on your children no matter what. Teach your children never to give up. Teach faith and commitment to God.
Provide a spiritual cover for your children so that they grow in stature, wisdom and in the fear of Lord.
Single parenting is as difficult as swimming upstream but with good attitude, you can be a successful parent and have successful children.