Raising a Boy Without a Father

Raising a boy is a tough job, but when dad isn't in the picture, mom and son often face a plethora of challenges. A single mom must be the breadwinner, the role model, the disciplinarian, and the provider for her child’s education, health, and general happiness. Sorta scary, isn't it? Any single mom of a rambunctious little boy can tell you that it’s no easy task. Although a mom can work near miracles to give her son everything he needs, she'll never be a father. Of course, being in a fatherless family doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. Don't panic! There are a number of things you can do to help the ‘apple of your eye’ grow into a happy, confident young man.

Providing Role Models

While your son’s biological father may not be around, finding a father figure a boy can look up to is important. Psychologist Peggy Drexler believes that boys and girls should be surrounded by both sexes. Boys can have many male role models, including family members, teachers, or close friends. Of course, a single mom will be the ultimate role model for her son. Remember that your attitude, mood, and outlook can alter your child’s. It’s more important than ever to suck up your frustrations and maintain a positive demeanor. Taking time for yourself, whether it's meditation, a soak in the tub or going out with friends when you're not the parent in charge, can help you maintain this all-important balance.

Setting Limits

Many single parents try to compensate for the absence of a father by spoiling their child or by allowing their kids to ‘rule the roost.' Kids need structure and limits. Teach your son the rules of the house and the expectations you've set for him. Discipline and consequences for poor behavior should be consistent to teach young children responsibly, respect, and consideration for others. Children can be raised successfully without a two-parent household. According to Dr. Drexler, it’s all about how the family acts -- not how it is made up -- which determines whether a child will succeed or fail in his future endeavors.

Arranging Family Time

When young boys belong to a one-parent household, with mom being the primary caregiver, it’s essential for you, the single mom, can spend quality time with your son. Kids are not picky with what activities you do together, as long as you’re giving him the one-on-one attention he thrives on. Prioritize some time to read, play, or just sit and talk with him. Remember, you don’t need dad to play a good game of baseball. Your son just wants to have fun. He'll probably be delighted to see you pitch to him (and at his age, how hard is pitching?). You pitch a slow one. He hits it with his plastic bat and runs around the backyard bases. You tag him just before he touches home plate -- or you let him slide into home. He loves it. And so do you.

Showing Love

As you bear the brunt of the parenting responsibilities in your household, it can be easy to forget to tell your son how much you love him. You may feel exhausted, flustered, and you may just want to sit down and have a good cry – and that’s OK – as long as you provide unconditional love to your child. Young boys need praise, support, and a sense of security, now that dad isn’t around. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Markham, it’s important to try to see things from your son's perspective, as you accept his emotions and regulate your own to provide him with everything he’ll need to be happy – with or without a dad.