Don’t we all wish we had an undo button in life where we could go back and undo all our parenting mistakes? Unfortunately there are no perfect parents and there is no such button. One way to avoid that wish for that button is to avoid the mistake in the first place. Because hindsight is 20-20 we have listed some common regrets quoted by single parents of now adult children. Take these regrets expressed below to heart so that it may help you avoid some of the same heartaches.
Veteran single parents said if they could do it all over again they would…
Be more consistent. This includes being consistent with rules, boundaries, and consequences. The most common regret was that both parents were not on the same page and that leniency was used to ease the guilt of the mother. Their advice is stick to your guns and your gut is always right.
Worry less. All those years of worry took a toll on veteran single parents and nothing every came from it. All the tears and anxiety was felt in the home and the children had to endure their mother’s fears as their own. They said they would go back and not worry so much about what they may be doing wrong and realize that you can do everything “right” and still make mistakes. They say just relax and enjoy parenting and enjoy the kids.
Spend more time together. Perhaps the biggest regret stated by veteran single mothers is that they didn’t spend as much time with their kids as they could have. They say they would go back and take more sick days, turn off the electronics and pursue mutual interest together, have dinner at the table, and get on the floor to play with the little ones. They recommend making the children your number one priority, which means give them the most time.
Speak only positively about their father. While it would have felt impossible at the time for many of these mothers, they wish they could go back and only tell positive things about the other parent. They explain that the child is half that person, and insecurities formed in the child that they were half something they didn’t love. They wish they would have left the past in the past and encouraged a relationship with the fathers that were good fathers. They recommend to newly single mothers to not argue with the children or your ex in front of them; and if the father is a good man, to encourage, not stifle a relationship.
Treat the kids like kids. When parents talk about mistakes they made in the past one that is they should have let their children have the right to enjoy childhood and mature at their own pace. They say that though single parenting can get lonely, single mothers should resist the temptation to treat your children as a substitute for an adult partner. Also don’t expect the children to handle the divorce, the finances, the move, your job, as an adult would because they are only children.
Love more and lecture less. Empty nesters wish they could go back and give more hugs and kisses (even when they become a teen). Novice single parents recommend rookie single mothers to not force everything down their kid’s throat and expect them to obey; as they have seen it does not work that way – they will rebel. Allow the kids to express themselves more, and not suppress their feelings.
We can learn a lot from single mothers that have been there and done that. They have come to the conclusion that their own actions likely contributed to how they interact with their adult children today and this effects how their children continue to cope with and lead their life today. There is no “Undo Life” button but you can surely make some changes today. You have the rest of your lives together.