Single mums don't have to be superwoman

Raising a child single-handedly is a humongous task and hardly anyone would want to voluntarily do this. Whatever are the reasons for your singledom - a divorce, separation or death of your spouse - it is not easy to be Superwoman.

There are times when you could get overwhelmed by your responsibilities and think it better to move in with your parents. But it might have been a couple of years since you moved out of your parents' home and formed a life of your own and might have become set in your lifestyle. This could lead to a clash of ideas between you and your parents. Dr Varkha Chulani, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist says, "Your lifestyle and the freedom that you enjoyed may not be the same. Don't look at compromise as a bad word. Following rules at home is not compromise. It is the price you are paying in return of security." Here's how you can set the boat smooth sailing, kick off on a great note and retain the peace in the household:

Talk it out:
Before you even move in, sit down with your parents and have an open discussion about your intentions of moving in. Tell them why you want to move in with them and yes, most importantly do not forget to ask them if they are okay with this decision of yours. True, they are your parents and will be only too glad to help but there's no way you can take them for granted and just thrust yourself on them without their permission. Do not ever move lock, stock and barrel without informing them and asking them whether it's okay with them.

Great expectations:
It would be a good idea to state the reasons why you have come to this decision like you want to save money, you want to study further, or maybe you want to get back to your career that you had left post-motherhood or maybe you just want to concentrate on your career, etc. Discuss each plan with your parents and also be clear about how you can help around the home. You can offer financial help or maybe you could take up some chores around the home. Psychologist Rachna Kothari says, "Moving in with your parents may be an economic necessity for many single mothers. However, you certainly don't want to be treated like a child again by your parents." From the onset, be clear that while advice is good, interference between you and your kid will not be tolerated. Your style of parenting could be different from your parents' but neither of you are wrong.

Parents have a life too:
Do not force duties on your parents. They are your parents but are not obliged to babysit your kid day and night. They have a life of their own. Do not assume that they will do whatever it is that you want them to do. Kothari advises, "Just because your mother did chores when you were young and growing doesn't mean she will continue to do so now too, for you and your child. She is aging. She can be easily fatigued." And please do not sulk if your parents do not wish to share responsibility in bringing up your child. Respect their wishes.

For courtesy's sake:
While there is no need to act like you are a guest in your parents' home, do not disrupt the peace in their home. "Don't have unrealistic expectations from your parents, just because you have shifted in. You've shifted there, so you adjust to them and the home decorum; their life remains unaltered. You need to show capability for greater flexibility, not them; given their age and condition," quips Kothari. Respect their preference. You don't have to turn in just because they are used to an early bedtime. But please keep your voice down while they sleep and also teach your kid not to disturb them. Make sure to keep the home neat and tidy just the way your parents' like it and teach your child to do so too.

The family that eats together:
Make sure to have at least one meal with the family. You are not guests at your parents' place nor is it a free lodging and boarding facility. Make an effort to bond with them. Don't be like strangers living under the same roof.

Take charge of your kid:
Just because you have your parents to fall back on doesn't mean you become slack in your parenting duties. Be the sole authoritative figure in your child's life. "Your parents and you should work on the joint ideology of rearing the child keeping his/her wellbeing in mind. The ultimate decision about the child will largely rest with the mother. However, the attitude, tone and intonation with which you convey all this to your parents is very important," advises Chulani. Make it clear to your parents that you have your own style and set of rules for parenting. Ensure your child respects his/her grandparents but the final word will be yours. Remember that you are your child's primary caregiver.

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