How important is to adopt a flexible parenting style as a single parent

Some parents rigidly stick to their ideas of how things should be done. Others can flexibly accept events as they are. Consequently, facing similar problems, the former will plunge into anger, frustration, sadness and helplessness. The latter will react to real circumstances and give themselves a chance to improve. Thus, in the colloquial sense, flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing conditions, readiness to change, seize opportunities, search for new ways to cope when something does not work as usual.

Flexible parenting style is combining it all – being harsh when there is an apparent demand for it, but also allowing your child to play endlessly on a playground from Both of these things can strengthen your relationship.

Flexibility over consistency

It is often said that you need to be highly consistent to raise a child “properly”. But do you really need to? It is surprising how the apparent inconsistency can benefit the relationship with your child. You will learn that you have the right to make mistakes and to change your mind depending on the situation.

When we talk about the consequences in the context of raising children, we think about the results of something bad the child has done. Very often, we just call it punishment. By consequences, we can also mean perseverance and loyalty to the rules, which means that we always behave the same in a given situation. Especially as a single parent, you want to give your child a sense of security, and you often hear that everyday rituals bring peace and order. This is true. However, allow yourself not to become a prisoner of routine. When the child’s period of independence begins, show that not everything can be planned from A to Z and that her or his opinion also affects your plans.

Never say never

Do not say words like: never, everything and always. Create yourself space for changes. You should be flexible enough always to have another way out. If an idea doesn’t work, you can still try something different. Unfortunately, your plans will have to be continuously changed. Only flexibility will allow you to remain calm and cheerful in such conditions.

It means mobilizing forces despite unfavorable circumstances, failures and the ability to recover after a stressful situation quickly.

Single parent’s dilemmas

Naturally, you want your child to have everything it needs. However, sometimes you think that for many children, it is natural to have both parents, which yours can’t have somehow. You dwell on a thought that the parent’s absence and dealing with it is a great stress for the child. That the child invests a lot in the relationship with parents, and that the parent is not only a loved one but part of their personality. The only response for that is: don’t be that harsh for yourself. By studying the level of happiness of children, two groups of children were taken into account: raised by single parents and raised by both parents. Guess what. The same percentage of children declare that they have a happy childhood, regardless of what model of the family they were brought up in. Other studies have confirmed another truism – not quantity but quality matters.

It is essential to devote as much time and attention to your child as possible. Especially when you are introducing a new person into your lives, the child should gradually enter into relations with the next mum or dad’s partner. To be able to accept a new partner, first of all, he must see a happy parent. At the beginning, it is worth taming a child with a new situation. A serious conversation with the child should precede a new relationship. Until now, your child was the most important, beloved, spent the most time with us and co-decided on various matters. Show that coming changes won’t ruin his or her position.

Reading their needs

Children have a strong will to learn something new and to experience constantly. We should be aware of this, particularly in a situation where we notice a wall beautifully scratched with crayons. Instead of reacting with anger, we may think to provide the child with a larger (and well, maybe vertically arranged) surface to draw.

To be flexible is to love but also to demand. Therefore, flexibility may also refer to an increase in the severity temporarily. The current rule might allow playing loudly in the room, but during the illness of the parent, this rule is verified, and the child should exceptionally behave more quietly. The child learns that life is not uniform and that the needs of others should be taken into account.


The consistency often feels like a heavy burden, forcing us to obey the rules blindly. Life itself is not entirely consistent, and different circumstances require different responses. Flexibility, empathic presence and sensitivity work better in interpersonal relationships than regulations and prohibitions. By experiencing them, children learn that we love them unconditionally and build their self-esteem. In the future, they will grow up to be empathic, flexible and sensitive adults.

©Paula Sieracka

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