Dev.D actress Mahie Gill recently opened up about being a single mother to daughter Veronica, who will turn three in August 2019. The actress revealed she is unmarried and is happy staying so. The actress was quoted as saying in an interview recently, “I am happy like this (single) and I think one can stay happily unmarried. One can have a family and kids even without marriage.”
Like Mahie, many other single men and women today are choosing to become parents outside of a marriage. Some are adopting children like actress Sakshi Tanwar; others like Ekta Kapoor are opting for assisted reproductive techniques to have a baby.
That said, single parenting is not an easy choice to make. Societal prejudice aside, there can be numerous practical challenges of being a single parent. And one has to be really prepared to take up the responsibility of a child.
So, what are the things one needs to keep in mind before choosing to be a single parent? These are some essential tips:
In an interview a while ago, actress Neena Gupta, who had daughter Masaba out of the wedlock, had talked about how she she struggled with finances during her pregnancy. Later, she had to work in bad movies also just to earn money for her child. Needless to mention, you need to have enough monetary backup to support and sustain your child. So, that is the first thing to consider before you embark on your parenting journey. Make investments and start preparing for financial emergencies. “If you are not financially stable, you should rethink your decision to become a single parent,” said Dr Debmita Dutta, parenting consultant and founder, What Parents Ask. She asserted, “Ensure you have enough savings to begin with. Of course, the meaning of financial stability will vary from person to person, depending on their socio-economic status.”
Fixing legal guardianship is extremely important to ensure there is someone to look after the child in case you are a victim of any mishap, recommends the parenting consultant. So, consult a lawyer to help you with this aspect.
Find your support system, your community
Now that you have decided to become a parent, talk to your family members about your decision, discuss the challenges and concerns to see if they are on board with it. Managing parenting single-handedly can be extremely challenging. Ekta Kapoor, who recently became mother to son Ravie via surrogacy, has time and again acknowledged the support she receives from her mother, brother and her team members. Actress Neena too had talked about how her father, who was initially against her decision to raise Masaba as a single parent, stood beside her “like a rock”. So, before having a child make sure to find your support system among family members and friends. Besides, find a community of single parents that you want to be a part of. “You need to build a kind of community in which a lot of children have one parent so that neither you nor your child feels alone,” Dr Dutta added.
Work on yourself
We may have a lot of love inside us but not many of us are good at expressing it to the child. “Since you have to play both the roles of a strict and friendly parent, you have to prepare yourself to approach discipline correctly. And discipline is not punishment; the cornerstone of it is love,” said Dr Dutta.
Practise time management
If you are the only working member of the family, you are definitely going to be hard-pressed for time in balancing work and parenting. “You are likely to keep busy as a single parent and so, learning time management, how to plan things as per your schedule, is important. Parenting essentially involves work-life balance,” Dr Dutta pointed out.
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
Single parenting is not easy and there might be situations where you may want to give up. And they begin even before you welcome your baby home. Think of how someone like Sushmita Sen fought for nearly 10 years in court to adopt her second daughter Alisah. Or how Ekta Kapoor contemplated motherhood for nearly seven years and had to cope with repeatedly failed IVF attempts before finally welcoming her son. So, before you go ahead, ask yourself if you are prepared to face challenges head on. Examine why you took the decision to have a child in the first place and how you will be handling obstacles that come your way. “Coach yourself emotionally; have someone to talk to, like a counsellor who can guide you,” advised Dr Dutta.
Prepare for questions
You know there will be a lot of unwanted advice and criticism to deal with. So, be prepared for questions and have your answers ready but not with a chip on your shoulder. Prepare to explain the situation to your child later as well. Dr Dutta said, “How we respond to people also depends on how we feel about ourselves. If you feel adequate and complete as a single parent, it reduces your stress. Otherwise, you tend to overthink what people are saying.”