By Lisa Henderson, B.S. Child Development
This was a difficult article to write, because my daughter and I have been having alot of growing pains lately. She is almost nine. She is also intellectually gifted, doing math and science at a ninth grade level. Which makes for quite a paradox. She is under the impression that because she is so smart, she has the right to question authority. As a single mother, I have to play both mother and father to her. I have to be the loving mother and the strong, directive father. It’s a challenge, to say the least.
I remember when I was in college, before I had kids, taking a survey for a psychology course. The question that has stuck with me all these years was: If you knew you were going to be a single parent, would you rather have a son or a daughter; why? I remember answering that I’d rather have a daughter because since I am female, I’d know better how to relate to her. Now that I have a boy and a girl, I am finding it’s much more difficult to relate to my daughter than my son. Although my daughter is older and that may have something to do with our difficulties too.
Most of our difficulties occur as a power struggle. She is a very strong personality, as I am. I remember my mother telling me (when I was young) that someday I’d grow up and have kids just like me; thanks mom for the curse, I’ve already passed it on to my kids.
I see my daughter as a leader, naturally taking over in nearly every situation. I see her as a perfectionist, giving up when she doesn’t get it right immediately. I see her as a social person, willing to approach anyone of any age and spark up a conversation. I truly believe she will do great things in her life. I also believe she will likely face great adversity, that will help her to grow.
I wish for my daughter, happiness and goodness. She is already smart and beautiful, but being happy and making others happy doesn’t come easy for her. She tends to center her world around herself, which is typical for a child her age. I have struggled with how to provide her opportunities to grow in goodness and still, as every parent knows, her world goes only as far as what she sees and controls. When life is outside what she controls, she claims “it’s not fair.” Those famous words all parents become very familiar with resound through our house consistently.
Ah, yes, life isn’t fair. It isn’t supposed to be. Is there a single mom out there anywhere who believes life is fair to them? I doubt it. I certainly don’t wish single parenthood on my children, but I do intend that they be strong enough to survive it if they must. If this means reality at a young age, then reality is what they get. I have always been honest with my daughter about everything, including what is going on in my life (at an 8 year old’s understanding level, of course).
I am not really sure that this article has a specific direction. Then again, what parent can truly say that a parent/child relationship has a specific direction? In close, I can say that I am truly blessed to have such beautiful, intelligent, challenging children to raise. Single parenting is never boring, never slow, and never easy. But it is rewarding, especially when my children do something that makes me swell with pride. I wouldn’t change a thing about either one of them. Well, maybe I’d give them the desire to clean their rooms daily.