When I was raising three kids as a single mother, I was often too exhausted to think straight. I needed direction or a director. Now I’m a tough old bird with a soft spot for single moms, and I learned a few things along the way.
Single parents must make an effort to bond with their children. This is important when kids are shuffled between households or have no father or mother figure in their lives.
“The attachment bond is crucial and affects the way your child develops mentally, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.” –From the landmark report in 2000 by the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development.
The mother-child attachment doesn’t always come naturally, at least not with every child. My children are grown with children of their own. Hindsight is 20-20, as they say. I wish I had known more when my children were young.
Here are a few pointers on how to ATTACH to your child.
A – Appreciate
Say it. “I appreciate your help with the dishes tonight.” “I appreciate the way you fed the dog without being told.” “I appreciate your smile. I needed it today.” Appreciation is underestimated and seldom overdone.
T – Touch
It may be a tender pat on the shoulder or a bear hug on the way out the door. It may be a squeeze of the hand during church. It could be a tussle of the hair as you pass by. Loving human touch connects us all.
T – Talk
With eye contact and genuine interest, talk with—not at—your child at least once a day. Focus on dinner or bedtime. Share an experience of your youth. They love to hear funny or mischievous stories from their parents. Then listen.
A – Ask
Ask the about their day. Be specific. Ask about something that was going on at school. If they are upset, ask what is the problem. Ask a question that requires more than a one-word answer. Then listen.
C – Care
Show genuine compassion about what concerns them. Adults do not see the world from the child’s eyes. Try to imagine what life is like for them in this changing world. Make a point of remembering what they are doing each day in school. Let them know you want to know and that you care.
H – Hold on
You can’t be their friend, as much as you would like to be. Hold on to your standards and house rules. Be firm in love. Hold yourself above reproach. In other words, be the example of the adult you want them to become.
This simple acronym provides tips for developing a child with secure roots. When grown, they will remember that you did these things more than anything you may buy for them. And that is priceless.