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Dealing with your teen as a single parent

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In creation, God made a perfect order where children should be raised in a family consisting of father, mother and children, but due to human nature and some unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, this order had been altered in some situations and one of the two parents are left with the responsibility of raising the child.

According to Hellen Olukoju-Oladele, a teen counselor and lead trainer at The Redirect Academy, single parenting is raising a child or children alone without the other parent due to man made or natural factors.

“Raising teenagers by both parents in the 21st century isn’t a walk in the parklet alone dealing with a teen as a single parent, but then, it isn’t a death sentence. The pressure on the single parent, emotionally, financially and psychologically will be dependent to a large extent on the type of arrangement or preparation in place for the welfare and all round well being of the teenager.

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“Take for instance, if the other parent is still alive and take responsibility of providing for the teenager’s general well being, the teenager have unhindered access to both of them, both parents are on the same page on matters concerning discipline and all round well-being, it will take a lot of burden off the single parent compared to another with dead or absconded or irresponsible partner.”

For Olukoju-Oladele, here are a few ways to help you deal with your teenager as a single parent: “If you are still hurting from separation irrespective of the cause, seek professional counseling, because parenting is about you first, before your teen. You are basically all your teen have now and you cannot afford to parent from a place of hurt; a hurting person will hurt another, even when it isn’t intended.”

Acknowledge that you and your teenager are now a team, understand your child’s temperament and know that he or she is no longer your little baby who dances to your tune with minimal resistance. Intentionally create an environment where your teen can talk to you without fear of being judged or misunderstood. Be a friendly authority to your teen.

To make your work easy, sit with your teenager in a relaxed mood, communicate expected behaviour ahead of time, set boundaries and consequences, brainstorm together, and don’t make it a one-way conversation of dishing out instructions without input from him/her.

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Follow through with appropriate and agreed consequences whenever boundaries are exceeded, don’t compromise ever. Allow fair trial and give room for humanity (because we all have shortcomings) and negotiation but once it is established that a laid down and agreed rule is broken, follow through with consequences. Especially if they are of opposite sex, for instance, when a father has to be the one with his daughter or vise versa, you need an adult you can vouch for, who can act in loco parentis (that is a father or mother figure). You must be careful in assigning this role because some take can advantage to abuse the teenager and get away with it because they have earned the trust of the caregiver.

She however noted that it is very important to always ask for help in any regard you are having challenges with your teenager. “No one knows it all, read books on parenting, attend classes and upgrade on latest trends, especially with teenagers. Familiarise yourself with all the developmental changes that occur in their body and be open to discuss these things with your teenager.

“Avoid the temptation of painting the other parent bad to your teens, especially in cases of separation due to domestic violence or any other abuse. He or she might be a bad husband/wife, your teen still sees him/her as father or mother, they are seeing things for themselves, allow them make their own decisions.

“Define your values as regarding relationships, especially with the opposite sex, communicate such to your child and live it. Above all, always connect to the Supreme Being, God, even though it could be overwhelming sometimes.”

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