Balancing education and parenting

Parenting is never easy, even when there are two parents in the home. It is important to realize that one parent can not fill the roles of both mother and father. You cannot do the work of two parents, but you can be a successful parent.Some may be one-parent families due to death, divorce or adoption. Some may never marry. Whatever your situation, remember: the odds are not necessarily against you. One can raise well-adjusted children and have a happy home all the same.

If you are a single parent, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single-mother families increased from 3 million in 1970 to 10 million in 2003, while the number of single-father families grew from less than half a million to 2 million. But why deal with statistics when you are doing the job you were destined to do? The odds are not against you!

What is a single mother or father exactly? The definition by Webster states: “One that implies a single father or single mother is only one who has full custody of their child or children.” This is not the case as the label “single father” or “single mother” has no relationship to who has custody. Single meaning “only one” and father meaning “male parent.” As a whole, a parent is defined as merely as a mother or father.

Morris Winters, a senior mass communication major from Chicago, spoke on his experience as a single father. “I have been raising my son for seven years by myself, and it has been hard. I believe that it is difficult for any parent, male or female, to raise a child alone.”

The issue of the custodial and non-custodial parent is a populartopic. We have reduced everything to black and white without realizing the shades of gray. The terms of a single father or mother have nothing to do with custody.

Injecting emotions into the definition isn’t accurate. Even if dad is not loving, nurturing or concerned, he’s still a dad. In other cases, a vast majority of dads in America have stepped up to the plate and taken the challenge.

“When his mom went on with her life, I had to face the impossible. The impossible meaning the fact that I had to raise a man and a Black man at that. My son and I are making it by the grace of God and I have no regrets. I just make sure that every day my child knows that I love him and I do my best to instill proper morals and values in him,” Winters said.

Though this is true, the absence of a father figure tends to be a trend. “My father has never been there for me growing up. As a child, I experienced many emotions because of my father’s actions,” Brittayne Adams said.

“Anger was the most of all. When I was thirteen, I was kicked out of school many times because of my behavior. As a result, my mom called my dad. When he showed up to discipline me, I asked him why he even came. Don’t try to play daddy now,” recalled Adams, a junior majoring in psychology from Orlando, Fla.

Single dad Charles McFarland shared a different opinion. “It’s my responsibility as a parent to take care of my seed. It’s a hard work to raise a child as a single parent, but I do it. I can’t imagine a man not taking responsibility for his child, but it is more common in today’s society.”
“Such men should be arrested in my opinion, because I could never turn away from my daughter. Regardless of what the parents go through, the child should always be put (as the) top priority,” said McFarland, a senior majoring in agriculture business at Louisiana Tech University.

It is most common that the mother takes on responsibility for the child or children.
Some people believe that God’s love is the only love that is higher than a mother’s love. Single mothers everywhere are beginning to become more independent and established in households, jobs and life in general. But whether you’re male or female, it is important to know that the efforts taken to raise a child go above and beyond honorable mention.

“As a single mother, raising a child alone for four years has been the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. Knowing that you are not the only parent in the equation is frustrating and puts a person in disbelief when the man that fathered your seed mysteriously changes,” says Monique Chevalier, a senior majoring in criminal justice from Reserve.

“In the past, I would look at my son and wonder how I would make it. The sheer fact that I am a statistic now has been something that I was forced to accept. Though it has been almost unbearable at times, God has helped me get over the small things and move on. Most of all, I have peace.”

Stepfamilies, also known as blended families, are more of a norm now than ever. At least one-third of all children in the U.S. will be part of a stepfamily before they reach age 18.

Children in blended families may resist the many changes they face at first. Fortunately, most blended families are able to work out their growing pains and live together successfully.

Open communication, positive attitudes, mutual respect and plenty of love and patience all have an important place in creating a healthy blended family.
“At first, I did not believe in the whole blended family thing, but I now have a different perspective. There is nothing wrong with blended families. We all have to move on with our lives,” Chevalier said.
Blended or not, always remember that the child is the most important figure. Parents should always think ahead as to what he or she can do to cherish the seed they both produced.

Let your child know that you love him or her both in words and action. Recognize your child’s efforts and the good things he or she does. Reassure your child at every possible opportunity that he or she is a unique, valuable and loveable person. Love your child unconditionally.

From a child’s perspective, Kim Cleveland, a junior majoring in hotel restaurant management from San Antonio, never had the opportunity to feel that love.

“My father calls me out of the blue because he had to appear in court on Monday for back child support. I haven’t seen or heard from him in 12 years, and now he says he wants a relationship. How am I supposed to react to that? I don’t know what to feel,” Cleveland said.
“I’m confused right now. But then again, I didn’t think the day would ever come. For some reason, I still have hope.”
Situations like these are painful and are sometimes unbelievable, but are a part of a growing reality. Remember that the odds are not the factor in the equation; the child is the factor and the key to the answer. Acknowledge your children and stop blaming them for your issues.

Lead by example and teach your child values that should be carried out through all human beings. Setting a good example for your child to follow teaches them to be a person of integrity.

Your child will trust you and can mirror your behavior. If you want to teach your child honesty, tell the truth. Show your child that you stay true to your principles and beliefs.

Live by the Golden Rule and be your child’s role model. Talk with your child about choices, boundaries and the values of your family. Spiritual beliefs and underlying principles will direct, guide, and strengthen your family.