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OliviaYR's avatar

Hey single mothers, any tips on raising a son without having his father around at all?

Asked by OliviaYR (241 points ) November 29th, 2011

The title pretty much says it all.
Due date is coming up in 10 days and I am having a boy.
His father will not be around so now I need some advice on what I can do to successfully raise my son on my own. Thanks!

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27 Answers

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Make sure he’s surrounded by POSITIVE male (and female, of course) role models. Draw upon your friends, family and community support systems to help you.

Also speaking from personal experience: Be VERY careful when you’re dating. Remember, with anyone you get involved with, two hearts are at stake. Make sure that any person you get involved with is going to be a positive caring influence to you and your son.

I say this because my mother had my older brother from a first marriage and then married my father who was not good to him and even though I wouldn’t exist if she didn’t, I still don’t think she was careful enough when selecting a companion.

Congratulations and good luck! :)

jerv's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace I grew up most of my life raised by a single mother, and no real male role model. All a kid really needs is one strong, positive role model, period.

That said, you are correct about having to be careful who you date. In fact, how well they got along with me was one of the biggest criterion that my mother used.

perspicacious's avatar

I’m wondering your age. Also, can you narrow this down, it’s too broad to try to answer here.

linguaphile's avatar

I had my son when I was 20 and the father ran off before he was born. I read up on what fathers provide to a child’s development and some that stuck in my mind are that fathers tend (tend) more than mothers to allow and encourage reasonable risktaking, which is a good thing for children to experience. They’re also more likely to teach how to let minor irritants slide or how to see things from a practical/logical viewpoint. When I had my son, I made a point of allowing reasonable risktaking, tried to teach him how to see things from both a practical and emotional viewpoint, etc.

Most importantly, when he fell down while learning to walk, rollerblade or ride a bike, I didn’t run to him with my arms outstretched in panic. I would evaluate the fall for obvious injuries, then say “Whoops! Let’s try again.” This was one of the best things I did for him and the daughter I had 11 years later.

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rooeytoo's avatar

I have known many single mothers who raised sons without a male role model. Some were successful and some were not. The same can be said of sons raised in households with a mother and a male role model. I think you try to raise a good human being, I really don’t believe the qualities that make one a good human being differ for males or females. The info above about the differing attitudes of males and females towards risktaking are probably due to the way they were raised. I would say girls and boys should both be taught to view risktaking in the same light, I don’t think it should differ at all.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo I regret that I have but one GA to give your answer!

Without knowing what sort of person you are (are you “femmy”? Tomboyish? In between?), it’s a little hard to give great advice, but it seems that most of the answers here so far try to point out the differences between men and women; differences that don’t really exist! Sure, my mother wore/wears dresses and makeup, but she also knows how to rebuild a VW Beetle engine and is pretty decent with a pistol.

In my case, it was easy for my mother to do all of the things a stereotypical/fantasy dad normally does. I wonder if you are the sort of woman who can do the same or whether you will need help giving your boy the broad experiences I had.

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zensky's avatar

As a single father of two (now quite grown) I have one piece of advice; love them to pieces. Everything else will sort itself out. You are young and might meet someone who will eventually be a part of their lives… but until then, you are not both mother and father to him, you are the mother.

Don’t try to be both, and don’t try to take both sides. It isn’t necessary. He just needs you to feed, clothe and especially love him. Your confidence will give him confidence. If you know inside that everything is fine, he will feel this way, too. That’s all you can, really, for we do not know what the future holds.

thesparrow's avatar

@zensky I congratulate you for being a single father and making it work. I apologize if I ever come off as a bit of a bitch. Yes, those are the duties of a mother. It isn’t a bad thing, though, when a man familiarizes himself a little bit with those duties too. Both parents should love him. Mothers usually do more work because they need to actually sustain the child and keep him / her alive and healthy. However, it is nice to see that some guys are actually capable of maintaining a human being. In my experience, some of them aren’t actually able to maintain themselves without having a personal cook / cleaning lady / wife.

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JilltheTooth's avatar

There are a number of issues you will need to address, here. I’m guessing, from other Qs and posts of yours, that you just don’t know how involved the father and his family will be. They may drastically shift their ideas of how much they want to be in this child’s life once he appears. But for yourself? The best advice I can give (Single Mother By Choice, here, father was a sperm donor) is to parent your child. Treat him as a person first, a boy second. You will know best who he is, work with that. I know this all sounds so general, but raising a child is often more of an art than a science. I’ve sent this to my daughter, hopefully she’ll weigh in with some insight…

JLeslie's avatar

Will your own father be in the picture? Having a loving grandfather can be a great role model, and a man he can go to if he has questions he wants to ask a man and not his mother.

My concern would not be so much a male role model though, it would be a lack of negotiating relationships as a model. I would focus on open communication with him as he grows up, having good listening skills yourself, and him being able to see loving relationships in his life. That would be my advice whether you had a boy or a girl.

SuperMouse's avatar

I recommend picking up a copy of The Good Son by Michael Gurian. It is great resource for all mother’s of boys. Gurian offers great tips for parenting boys that we moms might not even think of.

KatawaGrey's avatar

As the child of a single mother myself, the best piece of advice I can give is to never let your child think that he is a burden or that things would be easier if his father was around. Yes, things would be easier if there was another adult around full-time to help with the parenting, but never let your son know that. You are not just his mother, you are his parents. The biggest difference I see between my family situation and those of children of other single parents is that the parent who is left creates a hole where the other parent should be. Do not create that hole. Do not wait for the boy’s father to come back. Do not expect him to come back. Do not act as if you should only be doing half the parenting. You are this boys parents and as long as you are ready to do that, as opposed to just preparing to be half his parents, then you will do just fine.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My sons didn’t learn anything but bad behaviour from their dad, like being short-tempered and having no patience. After breaking them of that, I just raised them and the girls about the same. When my daughters got into dance classes, I enrolled them into things they might like; karate and sports. I couldn’t, obviously, teach them how to fix cars or appliances and do manly things, but you know, they found out anyway and turned into very capable men who just amaze me with the things they can do.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I think that is great advice. I see it even with children who have two parents, that one of the parents or both let the child know they are a burden one way or another. Even if it is just a parent complaining about driving the kid back amd forth to football practice. My mother said once to some friends when I was in earshot, when I was a young girl, that her favorite time has been with her children, while all the other adults were talking about their college years. It made me feel very wanted and very happy.

NuGoonie23's avatar

The advice I would give is to stay strong and become a central figure for your son and he will look up to you his whole life.

My mother is a single mother. She raised both me and my brother on her own with many other factors that weighed against her. I agree with @LeavesNoTrace in that if you have any supportive family members or friends that could serve as an additional support system, it usually helps. I’ve had great mentors in my life who were family friends or even school figures.

I’m now grown myself. A first generation college student and making it work. I thank my mother for being so strong. I respect her so much for all she’s done and sacrificed for us. To this day she puts me and my brother first before her and always will. She’s most definitely my inspiration.
All you can really do is be a good parent and role model for them. It’ll be hard because there were definitely times where the realization of not having a father really kicked in. Like the days of “father daughter doughnut day” in elementary school where I just always felt an absense. I noticed that I could never participate in such activities, but as I grew older I figured, my mother was my mother and my father.

thesparrow's avatar

@SuperMouse Lol.. oh man. I can’t believe there’s a book on how to raise a boy . I read a chapter on emotional masking (the book is available online). I think my boyfriend had that! He didn’t have both parents around consistently because they were divorced, and he didn’t feel connected to them. He abused drugs for a year or so during College. I think he had the second personality (risky behaviour?) I don’t know how that develops. My theory was that he did not get enough discipline from parents to keep him in line, and also when you don’t feel that connection you can be lost in life and hopeless. There was probably a lot going on with him at the time I just didn’t understand. It’s amazing that he’s come a long way. I’ve actually met his family. THey’re ok.. middle class white people. But they definitely don’t get that sense of family that my family has.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I remember learning when I was in my late teens that men don’t wipe after peeing. If I had been a teenage mom, I totally would have taught my son to wipe during toilette training. Poor kid would have wound up in a public bathroom and been totally lost and maybe embarrased himself. That’s the sort of thing I would be clueless about having grown up with just a sister, and of course my dad did guy things in private.

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