Parents are people who are trying to do their best for their children and themselves. All parents are different and have different ways of doing things. Nobody does everything right all the time.
Don’t waste your energy trying to be perfect. Love your kids and enjoy them. Be the best parent you can.

Make time for yourself. Mothers and fathers have lives of their own. It is not selfish to do things for yourself. Parents take better care of their children when they take care of themselves too.

Parents need to eat well, to get enough rest, to exercise, to learn to do new things, to have fun, to be alone, even for just a few minutes every day, to talk to and be with other adults.

You’re Not Alone

All parents have to find ways to handle everyday problems like time, money, and unwanted advice.

There never seems to be enough time when you’re taking care of small children. Your days are busy and full of interruptions. There is even less time when you work outside the home as well.

These ideas might help you to feel less rushed and to realize that what you do is important.

People are more important than things. Cuddling or playing with a child is always more important than cleaning the house.

Tidy is more important than clean. No one will see the dust on the woodwork, but the toys all over the floors can be dangerous and will drive you crazy. Put the toys into a box and put it into a corner. The room will look much better, you’ll feel good and it only takes a few minutes.

Be As Organized As You Can

Make a list of what you have to do each day. Work out the easiest and quickest way to get it done. Try to think out how you will handle problems (like a sick child, no babysitter, or doctor’s appointments) BEFORE they happen.

Get as much help as you can. Do as much as you can by phone.
Order things or have them delivered whenever possible.
Have your partner share in child care.

What Will People Think?

People will think exactly what they want to think and there’s nothing anyone else can do about it.
If you spank your child having a tantrum in the store, some people will think you’re a firm, no-nonsense parent. Some will think you abuse your child. If you wait quietly till the child calms down, comfort her, and go about your business, some people will think you are a gentle, loving parent. Some will think that you’re a weak-willed pushover.

The important thing is, WHAT DO YOU THINK? No matter what you do, you will never please everyone.

Trust your judgement. Ask for advice from people you like and trust, and ignore the others.

You’re not perfect.
Your children aren’t perfect.
And neither is the person frowning at you in the store.

One Parent Families

In Canada, one out of every four families with children living at home is headed by a single parent. Being a single parent isn’t easy, but it isn’t unusual either.

Single parents have to handle the same things all parents do – but handling it all alone can seem like too much. You and your kids may need help and support.

Help Yourself by Finding Help

Find someone to talk to. Someone who will listen, understand your problems and care about what happens to you.

Sometimes this listener can be a friend, family, a neighbour or relative. Sometimes a priest or minister, social worker or counsellor is what you need. Community agencies and single parent support groups can be a source of help, too. Churches sometimes sponsor single-parent groups.

Help Your Children:

Answer their questions about the absent parent and your family situation no matter how often they ask. Be brief and honest.

Give your children as much comfort, time and love as they need.

Tell them over and over: this isn’t their fault; that they are still loved; that they will be looked after and taken care of no matter what and that even if their parents don’t live together, they still have a mommy and daddy like everyone else.

Don’t use your children as a way to get even:

If you have custody of the children, don’t try to prevent the other parent from visiting because you’re angry about something else.
If you have visiting rights, spend the time with your children talking, playing and doing everyday things together. Don’t try to make the other parent look bad or buy the children’s love with toys or special treats.

Find Some Role Models for Your Children

When little boys don’t see much of their father, or when little girls don’t often see their mother, you may feel that they need an adult of the same sex for him/her to look up to and learn from. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members can help with this. So can community organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Any change in your life can cause stress, things like getting married, a new baby, a new job, illness, separation, losing your job, or becoming a parent at a young age.

The situation you are in may be stressful too, being cut off and alone, having too much to do, having too little money, having problems with your kids.
Sometimes it gets to be too much. Stress is the way your body reacts to the feeling that life is getting out of control.

Each person reacts to stress differently. Some get skin rashes, headaches, or backaches. Some feel tired, angry, grouchy, depressed, nervous, or guilty.

Handling Stress

There is some stress in everyone’s life. Stress can’t be avoided, but there are things you can do to make it easier to handle.
Slow down, relax. Put your feet up and have a cup of tea. Nap when your children do.

Don’t keep feelings bottled up. Find someone to talk to. A good listener can help you work things out. Try to talk to your partner or family. If you are feeling angry or depressed, do something active – go for a walk, scrub floors.

Try to understand what’s happening.

When there’s a change in your life, like a new baby or a separation, you may find that you don’t have much in common with old friends.

Finding people who understand and share your problems can be a great help.

Put your feet up and have a cup of tea.

Change What You Can

Have your partner share child care.
Go out.

  • Join a bowling league;
  • Take a class;
  • Join or start a play group;
  • Look for help to handle the things you can’t change on your own;
  • Family, friends and neighbours;
  • Community services, social agencies, support groups like Al- Anon, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and single-parent support groups;
  • Public health nurses, mental health workers.


Help and support from neighbours and friends can make many problems seem easier to handle.

Talk to people at work, in the park, laundromat, store or church.

Phone someone whose kids are a little older – someone who’s made it through a similar stage.

Ask a neighbour to watch your children for an hour or so. Maybe you can watch her kids in return or do some other favour.

Call families you know who have small children. Ask if they would like to join a play group to give parents a chance to talk and the kids a chance to play.

See if you can join a babysitting co-op. Co-ops trade sitting time instead of paying for it.

Ask your church, community centre or school to start Mother’s Mornings to give mothers and kids a place to get together.

See if your library or bookmobile has a story hour for small kids. If they don’t, ask them to start one.

Professional help is needed when you want more help or a different kind of help than friends can offer.
Finding the right kind of help for your problem may take some time and effort.

It’s not easy to ask for help, and it’s even harder when you have to keep calling and you feel as if no one cares.

  1. Know what your problem is. This will help you to explain it clearly and decide where to start looking for help.
  2. Start with people you know. A friend, family member, public health nurse, social worker or minister can help and will have some ideas about others you might call.
  3. Call a help line or crisis line for information. The number is usually listed on the inside front cover of the phone book.
  4. Keep track of what you’ve done. Write down the name and number of whom you called – who you talked to – what they said.
  5. Ask for other places to call. If one place you’ve contacted for help can’t give you what you need, ask them for other places to try.

Alcohol and Pills Don’t Solve Problems

Using alcohol or pills to help handle problems can be a problem in itself. You need help to stop drinking or depending on pills. You also need help to understand the problems that pushed you to the start.


  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Centres
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellors
  • Doctors, Public Health Nurses
  • Social Service Workers
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Priests, Ministers
  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Friends
  • Help Line

Sometimes you feel that you are the only one who has questions or problems. You wonder how you’ll get through another day.
Nearly all parents of small children feel cut off and lonely at times.

Parents need a chance to get together with other adults to talk.

Children need to get together with other kids, to play and to make friends.
Some ways to meet new people are:

Play Groups

A play group is one way parents and kids get together. Several parents and kids agree to meet regularly to talk and play. They can take turns meeting in each others kitchens or they can get together in a church or community hall. All it takes is someone to get it started.

Parenting Groups

Parenting groups or classes are often set up by a public health nurse, church, social services department, or YM/YWCA. In a parenting group, parents talk and share ideas about raising children, while their kids play in another group. To find out about parenting groups in your area: Call your local public health nurse, social services department, or local YM/YWCA.

Check newspapers and community bulletin boards for notices. Listen for notices on the radio. Suggest that a church or community group set up a parenting program.

Choosing the Right Babysitter

Finding an experienced and competent babysitter will require some research on your part. Care should be exercised in determining who is hired to care for your children. Do not leave your child with anyone unless you are absolutely confident that he or she is capable and mature enough to handle the responsibility.

It is best to employ a babysitter from your own neighbourhood, preferably someone you know and who lives nearby. Ask for references. If you are new to a neighbourhood check with other parents, local community and church groups or agencies that specialize in child care. Bulletin boards and local newspapers may also be of some help. The majority of good caregivers, however, are usually recommended by friends, neighbours, relatives or co?workers. If hiring a young person, show preference to a young person who insists that their parents come to your home prior to their beginning work.

Once you have a list of potential caregivers, be sure to interview them to determine their skills, attitudes, availability and compensation requirements.

Most important, listen to your children. If they do not want to stay with a particular sitter find out why.

If there has been an abuse report it immediately to police. Do not discuss it with anyone, particularly the agency or caregiver prior to reporting the abuse to police.

Guidelines for Sitters

  1. Your babysitter should know where you are, and the telephone number where you can be reached.
  2. The police emergency number and the fire department number should be in plain view on your telephone. (Use 911 if it is available).
  3. Your babysitter should know your complete street address and explicit directions to your home in the event he or she needs to call the police or fire department.
  4. The names and telephone numbers of neighbours who could assist in the event of an emergency should be given to your babysitter.
  5. Your babysitter should be aware of any medical problems which may arise, and how to deal with them. Leave your family doctor’s name and telephone number with the babysitter.
  6. Make certain your babysitter knows where his/her parents are if he or she will be unable to reach you.
  7. The babysitter should lock all doors and windows, and keep them locked while you are away. Absolutely no one should be allowed in.
  8. Instruct the baby sitter not to tell anyone on the telephone or at the door that they are the babysitter, since this implies they are alone.
  9. If you are expecting any deliveries inform the babysitter. It is best to arrange that there are no deliveries while you are away.
  10. Show the babysitter around the house, pointing out fire escapes, etc.

Choosing the Right Daycare

With more and more mothers working outside the home and the increasing number of single parent households, daycares have become, to many, an important part of childhood. No longer does the term “babysitter” describe the type of full time care and attention you need someone to give your child on a daily basis while you work.
There are certain factors you should consider when choosing a daycare for your child. All states/provinces have some type of daycare licensing although requirements may vary. A list of licensed daycare centres may be obtained from health or human services departments in your area.

Cost does not necessarily determine the quality of the centre. In the “best” group daycare environment, each caregiver is responsible for specific children and preschoolers are separated from infants. Group daycare facility employees usually have some training in child development, health, nutrition and child safety. The supervisor of a facility usually has a graduate degree in early childhood education and often has some training in business management.

Although most family and group daycare facilities are safe places, there have been recent reports of sexual abuse in some, and this is understandably of great concern to many parents. The vast majority of daycares are operated by individuals who sincerely care about children.

  1. Contact state/provincial and local licensing agencies along with other childcare community agencies to make sure the facility is reputable. Determine if there have been any past complaints of sexual abuse. Request to see the facilities’ licenses and credentials.
  2. Talk with parents who are currently using the facility or who have used the facility in the past. Also, find out as much as possible about the teachers and employees at the facility. Ask to see employees’ resumes and references.
  3. Determine the facility’s hiring practices, credentials required, etc. Find out what kind of background information, if any, is sought on individuals before they are hired. Meet the employees and watch how they work. See if the children appear to be happy.
  4. Be sure you are informed of every planned outing. Never give the daycare blanket permission to take your child off the premises.
  5. Prohibit in writing the release of your child to anyone without your explicit permission. Be sure the employees know who will pick up your child on any given day.
  6. Make sure you have the right to drop in and visit the facility at any time, announced or unannounced, and that the daycare maintains an open door policy for parents.
  7. Do not be afraid to ask questions. If abuse is ever alleged, do not discuss the abuse with the daycare facility. Go directly to the police and give them a statement prior to discussing the situation with anyone else.


Feedback about our Child Protection Materials is greatly appreciated.

Please vofv(at)victimsofviolence(dot) if you have any comments, or to report errors or omissions.

Last modified: October 21, 2015