The Single-Parent Trap

If there’s one thing I’ve never done before, it’s filing for a “missing person” case.  I feel this is something I ought to do now, because there’s this one person whom I haven’t really seen in a long time- me.

I happen to be a single mom as a result of calling it quits with my ex-husband.  Since I do most of the child-rearing solo, I have to admit that I try overly hard to make up for the absence of a father in the household.  I often stretch myself to the limit, just so I can give my daughter what she needs.  In the process, I lose myself.  There’s nothing wrong with watching Phineas and Ferb episodes over and over again, I guess, but the thing is, I no longer know what I want for myself. 

The lines of distinction between what my kid needs and wants become more and more blurred, so I tend to easily fall prey into a cycle of constantly giving in to my daughter’s every whim.  I have fallen into the single-parent trap.

Consequently, I feel that my daughter has been increasingly demanding, taking for granted the emotional and material things I continue to shower her with.  Instead of appreciating the things I do for and give her, she asks for more.  Eventually, I end up feeling frustrated.  Anger sets in, I vent- sometimes inevitably at her- and then I feel guilty. 

In such a situation, the kids then become victims of circumstance.  Moms like me feel that we have to do penance by sacrificing what we want.  We once more call off that long-overdue night out with the girls, just so we could make up for our “shortcomings” with our kids.

So, how do we get out of the trap?  It’s important that you moderate how much you give to your kids, and start giving yourself the attention you also need.  Try to carve out some time for yourself.  Go back to doing the things you used to do.  Revisit old hobbies, friends, etc.  Sometimes, maybe all you need is an hour alone at the mall.  If you must go out on a date, don’t be afraid to ask relatives or a trusted friend to look after your kid while you’re away. 

Don’t deprive yourself of the little things which you enjoy doing.  Your child will feel more self-assured knowing that his or her mom is happy and fulfilled.

About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

Catch me on G+.


  1. Hi Pepper!

    I’ve been there – my parents separating, and growing up with just Mum fending for our needs. Your daughter is lucky because she has you around and she has all your time and attention solo. (My Mom is an OFW and I have two other sibs.)

    I’m sure things will get better for you and your daughter. She’ll understand the situation better as she grows older, I’m sure.

    You’re a strong woman. Don’t falter. :)

    • I guess you’re right, my daughter is lucky to have me around.
      Thanks for thinking that I’m a strong woman :). I hardly think so, to tell you the truth.

  2. Hello kids are ok and it has never been a problem for me..when I say we can’t buy it now..they always say it’s ok Mom..

    I guess all of us single Moms fall into the trap of forgetting ourselves and exceeding our limits in giving our love and time to our kids thus making us tired and losing our individual happiness..your right sometimes we need to also enjoy and relax..keep smiling Peps ;)

  3. Salt in Suburbia says

    I’m a working married mom of three and I can relate to all the things you wrote. I don’t think putting your own needs last and sacrificing for your kids is a trait limited to single parents. The person you are right now IS a mom. A lot of that other stuff will have to wait and that’s ok. Second, one of the best gifts you can give your kids is responsibility, not “stuff”. But from what I’ve read here before, it sounds like your daughter is very responsible :-)

    • Oh, thanks for the nice words about my daughter :). Yup, I think I should teach my kid to be more responsible. she is getting older.

  4. This is so true! I know I wouldn’t give in to my daughter as much if her father was around, because he is a lot more strict than I am. I’m just learning to get out of the “trap.” Because I’m in university, I don’t have time to go out or have hobbies right now, but I am learning to set clear boundaries with my daughter and stick to them.

    Thanks for the great post. :)

  5. I fell into this cycle after divorce. I gave in because of my guilt that their Dad was not around. All of a sudden, I was raising two spoiled brats. We/I pulled myself out of that. One of the greatest gifts we give our children is that of boundaries. With those, they can find security and happiness. It is exhausting to do it all, and not have the support (even emotional) of a spouse; it can leave you empty. We do have to find a connection to other things in our lives that give us happiness, so our children see us happy.

  6. I always have to remind myself to take time for just me. I always feel more refreshed and in control when I do. I should do it more, but I feel guilty staying away form my son!

  7. Samantha Bangayan says

    Thank you so much for the humility in this post, Pepper. I can see myself doing the very same because I really have a hard time finding balance in anything in my life. I’m so glad you’re rediscovering yourself again! =)

  8. This has to be incredibly challenging for single parents! Excellent post.

  9. I have great admiration for single parents. Raising kids is a difficult task, but the most rewarding too! I like your advice to set aside ‘me time’. It is vital in keeping things in focus!

    Thanks for sharing your frustrations and discoveries!

  10. First I want you to know that I have so much respect for you. I am married and don’t know how I could do this on my own. Second, I think your advice resonates with me as well. I need to have me time. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. I agree. Me time is so important. We wouldn’t dream of neglecting our children, but somehow Moms have bought into the notion that self-neglect is a good thing. Go figure! :)

  12. You definitely need to take time for yourself and set limits with your daughter. It’s hard, though. I’m not a single parent now but I was for many years. Just keep trying!

  13. As I was reading this, I was literally going “yes, my son does this!!” It’s really important to keep track of what you’re giving your kid and moderate it like you said. As a single parent, I tend to compensate for the lack of a father. Still doesn’t make it right though!!! Great blog.

    I’ve nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award!!

  14. making time for yourself is SO important, and I’m so glad it is something I have learned early on as a mom. I always like to say “you gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping anyone else.”

  15. What a wonderful post!! I could see how this would be so easy to do if you are a single parent, but I have to admit that even though I’m married, I often have to find myself. I think mothering is so consuming that we often have to remind ourselves that we can do nothing for our kids if we do not take care of ourselves. And, I have learned that my husband can not read my mind, if I don’t say, and even at times demand my own needs I will always be in second place. Thanks again for a great post!

  16. This has got to be such a hard struggle to find balance. It’s not a bad thing to sacrifice, but you also have to take care of yourself while not feeling guilty. Give yourself a pat on the back for the many sacrifices you are making, and know that you won’t regret them later. Sending blessings your way!

  17. Kristy @PampersandPinot says

    You are so right. You must figure a way out to find yourself, or you’ll go mad, and then what good are you? I can’t imagine how hard the single parenting gig is.

  18. You deserve a me-time sis. :)

    I need one, too. :)

  19. Single mom, married mom… all moms can fall into this trap. Wonderful reminder to us all. Witty opening line!

  20. pretty well said sis! this is a great reminder to all moms out there…single or not! everybody deserves a “ME” time…:)

  21. Great post. I’m saying a special prayer for you. I’m not a single mom, but I’ve been the child in a broken marriage and watched my mom work her tail off to provide for her children. She was always exhausted, emotional, and overwhelmed. But she was a great mom. I know how hard it was for her though.

    I also watched my husband over-compensate in his parenting of my step-daughter because her mom was completely absent from her life and he felt guilty for his daughter’s pain. Ultimately, his strong urge to over-compensate by giving his daughter everything she wanted wasn’t good for her. Even though she was having a tough childhood she still needed to have boundaries and discipline. In fact, I think she craved it.

    Parenting is never easy, regardless of whether we’re doing it alone or with someone. I worry every day whether or not I’m doing a good job with our little girls. I think we just have to do the best we know how and trust God to guide our parenting decisions for the ultimate good of our children. But we also need to remember we aren’t always going to get it right and our kids need to witness that.

    Blessings to you,

    • Oh, thanks for saying a special prayer for pitiful me :)
      Yup, we parents must realize that we are bound to make mistakes along the parenting path, and our kids need to see that.

  22. Parenting is really challenging, more so when you do it by yourself. I guess that’s the normal tendency, to compensate for the other half’s absence. At least you are aware of the “trap” you’re into. The key, I suppose is keeping a balance of things.

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