According to a recent Pan-African study by two Canadian sociologists, Kenya has one of the highest levels of children born out of wedlock, with six out of every ten Kenyan women likely to be single mothers by the time they are 45 years of age (59.5 per cent chance).
The research further revealed that the most affected are women in their late teens and early 20s as more men continue to abandon their traditional role of providing for their families.
Leaving women to sole parenthood would likely expose them to a dilemma on decisions, choices that they should make or should not make when dealing, interacting with their children.
eDaily highlights the following six things that a single mother should never do in her children’s presence – based on expert opinion and testimony from a single mother.
Use of bad language
Caroline Achieng*, a single mother of an 11-year-old daughter, says that one of the most important factors she puts in mind when in presence of her child is the eschewing of swear words from her vocabulary.
She observes that vulgar language, swear words, and violent language should never be used in front of the children as they are likely to pick up on those habits – be it gradually or fast.
Ms Achieng advises her fellow single mothers to embrace positive parenting and use of friendly language to ensure that their children develop positively.
Bringing lovers at home
The golden rule for dating as a single mother is never introduce or bring home a man whom you are not sure you would want to spend the rest of your life with to your children.
According to Shadrack Kirunga, a counselor and lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, introducing several men to your child will likely hurt the child’s psychological growth.
He further stresses that physical expression of sexuality before a child does major disservice to them.
Mr Kirunga, nonetheless, observes that this entirely depends on the age of the child, saying when children reach adulthood; they are more structured to understand matters relationship than when they were toddlers.
Assuming the child
Negligence is a strict no-no.
Caroline Achieng* explains that your hatred toward the child’s father should not be used as basis to neglect your child.
She says ignoring your child would create a distance between you and them, giving an example of a single mum who used to abandon all her responsibilities as a mother to the nanny.
Ms Achieng said that the child grew up treating the house help as her mother and by the time the parent realised that she was losing grip of her own daughter, it was a bit late to bond with the child.
Mr Kirunga echoes Ms Achieng’s sentiments, saying children have emotional needs as well, and neglecting a child will lead to them looking for love, protection and approval elsewhere. According to Ms Achieng, one should also find a healthy work-life balance to avoid overstretching.
Wallowing in self pity
“Most of these young mothers are not emotionally stable yet and at times may tend to break down. It is highly advisable that they should do all that is necessary never to break down before their kids, because it breaks them emotionally,” Mr Kirunga observed.
The counselor also cautions single mothers against constant use of distressing language.
Barring the child from seeing his or her father
Unless the child’s father is abusive, an alcoholic or is a negative influence, then the single mother should allow him to spend some time with his child.
Mr Kirunga says that if the child’s father is upright, then there is no need to prevent him from seeing the child; an argument seconded by Ms Achieng.
“Don’t create a vacuum if the father wants to meet the child,” says Ms Achieng.
She adds that single mothers should not speak negatively of the children’s fathers or highlight the man’s failures – just to create a rift between the two parties.
“There is no need of planting hate seeds in a child. Even if the father was a monster, do not portray him as such to the child. He or she would grow looking down upon their father,” says Ms Achieng.
Mr Kirunga insists that a father has a legal right to spend time with his children; and can only be restrained through authorized intervention if he influences the child negatively.
Rushing through life
So many single mothers tend to blame themselves for having to raise a child alone. This makes them feel like they have wasted a part of their life and want to rush through life, doing things they would, otherwise, not do on a normal day.
Ms Achieng says: “It is not wrong to have a child. And it is also not wrong to be the sole parent to a child. It is not the end of life.”
Though she is optimistic to remarry, Ms Achieng underscores the priority she gives toward raising her 11-year-old daughter.
“It’s not my choice to be a single mother. But if you are one, embrace it and always remember that motherhood is the best gift anyone can ever receive n life,” she says.
Mr Kirunga advises single mothers to give themselves time to heal from a previous relationship.