When my marriage ended, single mom life began. I found myself facing things I had never considered before. I had become a single woman and a mom on my own. I was also watching my daughter navigate being between her father and me. Under it all was the emotional pain from the loss of my marriage. I feared I would create bigger problems for my daughter, and for myself, through unwise choices in dating, co-parenting, or dealing with my emotions. I saw the need for boundaries to guide me.
In fact, I’d argue that boundaries are even more important for single moms than for others because single moms are being pulled in so many directions and doing it alone. It isn’t just a lack of physical help. Single moms also lack the emotional support a healthy marriage provides. That’s why boundaries are so important in single mom life. Are you setting the right ones? Here are 5 boundaries all single moms need.
1. You don’t lean on your kids for emotional support.
Fewer financial resources, legal issues with the ex, and emotional struggles can be overwhelming in single mom life. Many times there is no one available to talk to about it. Kids worry about you. They want to help. It’s so tempting to overshare what you’re going through with them. They may even seem mature enough to handle it. However, the emotional burden on them is too great. To help kids feel secure, set a boundary for yourself not to lean on them for support. Be the one they lean on instead.
To help kids feel secure, set a boundary for yourself not to lean on them for support. Be the one they lean on instead.
2. You don’t tear down their dad in front of the kids.
Even though your relationship with your ex-husband is finished, your kids’ relationship with him is lifelong. They need to decide what that looks like without feeling like they are betraying one of you in some way. Set a boundary by limiting what you say about him to other people and always make it outside of your kids’ earshot.
3. You let your kids navigate their own relationship with their dad.
Married moms often guide their husbands through relationships with their kids, like suggesting quality time together. Single moms aren’t in a position to do that. When they try, they mostly end up causing more problems. When your kids’ relationship with their dad is complicated, help them find solutions. An appropriate boundary would be deciding not to confront your ex-husband unless your kids are in real emotional or physical danger. Support your kids by helping them come up with solutions for problems that arise.
4. You stick to court settlements.
This is a boundary that’s set for you, but don’t make things messy by compromising court decisions. It’s much harder to get back to the guidelines you and your ex agreed upon than it is to never waver from them in the first place. Don’t allow your ex to manipulate you into changes after the fact. Likewise, don’t try to maneuver things your way either. Kids of divorced parents feel like ping pong balls. They need the stability of the established protocol of your divorce settlement. If changes need to be made after the fact, go through the legal process to make it happen.
5. You don’t bring the men you date into your kid’s lives prematurely.
Bringing another man into your children’s lives creates insecurity in them. They may have already experienced the breakup of the family unit and had you all to themselves for a while. The relationship dynamic between you and your kids shifts when you bring another person into their lives. This can cause them to feel isolated if it happens too often. Introducing your boyfriend to them needs to happen when you know the relationship has lasting potential. This boundary is good for the kids, but it also helps you take a relationship at a healthy pace. Along with this introduction, it’s important that you give your kids a lot of reassurance that your relationship with them is as solid as ever.
What are some other boundaries you’ve established in single mom life?