It’s no secret that raising a child on your own is extremely difficult. Unfortunately, far too many parents find themselves having to do just that.
Statistics have shown that the majority of households in South Africa are run by single parents. According to SA Institute of Race Relations(SAIRR), only 33% of children in South Africa live with both their parents.
So just what does it take to raise kids on your own? We spoke to single parents who shared their secrets to successful solo parenting.
Mojapelo is a proud father of two. After his wife passed away, he had to raise his two children on his own – both under the age of 10.
Twenty years later, Mojapelo says that although it wasn’t easy, his secret was ensuring his kids’ happiness came first.
“Comfort, love, caring, and making sure they were happy at home, school, and everywhere they were was important for me. I also used to take them out a lot so we could create beautiful memories as a family.”
But their happiness wasn’t the only important thing for him as a parent – teaching them about the importance of money was also vital.
“In order to raise them to be financially independent and wise, I would also make sure I discussed finances with them and we did the budget together as a family.”
The father of two says he also wanted them to grow to be responsible and independent adults.
“As a teacher myself, I know how important education is. So from their primary schooling, I ensured that they attended good schools and taught them to be focused on education. Today, my first born is a qualified engineer and the last born is doing her second year in Medicine.”
Joseph Mmoledi lost his wife in 2008 when his children were only 11 and 9. Working at an old-age home in the North-West province, the father of two says it has not been an easy journey.
“My son, who is now 18, was very close to his mom and was not coping well after the passing. Raising a girl and a boy was challenging, especially because they have different needs. However, I always made sure that their basic needs such as shelter, food, clothes, school-fees, were always met. When it came to other things like buying them the latest fashion, I always made sure they understood that I can only try, but can’t always afford such.”
Mmoledi says another secret was having a support system.
“I have a support system and from time to time, my children would get counselling from people such as pastors and other relatives. I also encouraged them to use their talents. For instance, my daughter is very gifted in music, and I always encourage her to use her gift. Just yesterday she was telling me how she is grateful that I’ve raised them all these years without their mother and took good care of them.”
Thirty-eight-year-old Portia Molokomme, who is a mother of two boys aged 17 and 9, has been a single parent for seven years now.
“I come from a single-parent household, so I learned from my mom that it’s possible to raise your kids independently.”
For Portia, the secret is discipline.
“I disciplined my boys from when they were young. I made sure I set ground rules from a young age and I made sure they understood that ‘if you are under my roof, you obey my rules’. My other secret has been prayer and trusting in God. When I’m in trouble, be it financially or any other way, I make sure I communicate with them. So we all work together as a team. I also made a conscious decision never to bad-mouth their father.”
Koenaite, a single mother of five, says her biggest secret is giving her children unconditional love.
“With one parent absent, children may feel the gap, but I made sure I gave them lots of love. Love is the secret. Even when it came to disciplining them, I disciplined them with love and caution, so they don’t end up being resentful. I would also show them direction and try as best as I could to guide them. The other secret is to ensure that they have their meets are met at home. I didn’t want them asking food from neighbours, so I made sure I fed them and they were well taken care of.