Single parent with depression

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  • #62822 Report


    Just been given the details of this site by an occupational health therapist and thought I would give it a try.

    I am a single dad with a 4yr old daughter, of which I have had sole care of since she was 6 months old.

    I am having a lot of trouble with her atm (I know children are far from saints) but she is defiant all day long, not coping at school and is relentless (time out, sticker charts and removing her favourite toys aren’t working) She also has separation anxiety and will follow me everywhere in the home. I have no family help, no one to turn to for advice or support or for me to have just me time. This has effected me to the point where I have been diagnosed with a depression disorder and hours reduced at work.

    Anyway, I will appreciate any words of wisdom if anyone has any please, I am at my wits end with worry and stress.

    Sorry for the rant.. thank you

    #62825 Report

    I can really feel your pain there. Just remember that it will not be forever and parenting is the hardest job in life as there is no right or wrong answers. You need to be kind to yourself. You are bringing up a small human. Your self care ad wellbeing is paramount for their wellbeing. So look after yourself as well as you can so you can look after your child.

    #62826 Report

    Andrew uk

    Sorry things are tough at the moment. Is she in nursery or something similar? She’s perfectly normal and pushing the boundaries. My kids were and are the same. He’s 9 and is still doing it! Terrible 2s last longer than 2!! She will thrive in a nursery i bet. And it’s just what you need.

    #62827 Report



    my daughter was a similar age when I had sole care of her and her sister who is 5 years older.
    its really really tough and alongside it all I felt angry that I had to cope with this all on my own when my ex didn’t. Remember you are likely going through a whole heap of emotions, 4 1/2 years after my separation emotions really hit me again so don’t assume it’s all resolved just because time has passed.
    All I can suggest is no matter how hard trying to keep a routine for your child, they may fight against it but keep going. I found distraction was the best method when they were being defiant or acting up. They are also likely picking up on some of your own emotions too.
    just be present with her, plan a trip to the park or something nice to do not just trying to get through the day, have a good bedtime routine, I found a snack at bedtime helped too and hopefully in time it will settle.
    sorry I can’t help more and can only suggest what helped me, it wasn’t quick but remember as they gradually get older it does get easier and also remember you are doing an amazing job, raising a small human on your own is not easy for any of us so keep going!

    #62857 Report


    Hello Just-me,

    I’m sorry to hear  that you’re finding things tough with your daughter, and feeling so low and stressed. It sounds like you’re putting in a lot to take care of her.

    It’s good that you’ve reached out for support. I hope that your GP offered you some help for your depression like talking therapies, and medication if you want it. If they haven’t, I’d encourage you to go back and ask what they can offer.

    I’ve got sole care of my children so I know how intense and exhausting it can be too. And how difficult to get any me-time to rest and recharge. When I’m feeling low I try to do small, nice things for myself when the kids are asleep or having some video time. It’s hard because it can still feel like I’m always alert to e.g. if they wake up/there’s a problem, so that it’s never completely a break, but it does help a bit.

    You say she’s not coping at school – I wonder what they’re doing to support her with that? Defiance is so hard to deal with, I know! I’ve found empathy for their feelings, consistent routine and boundaries to help, over time. Not a magic wand, but a help!

    Good luck x

    #62859 Report


    Thank you all for your comments. The doctor has suggested time to talk (not started yet) issued anti depression tablets today and my employer has enrolled me into their occupational health scheme.. I will see how I get on with this.

    Regarding my daughter, the school has suggested a behavioural therapist.. a professional from the school will be calling me sometime this week. I’m fed up of always feeling so low so I have taken all the help I can get.

    My daughter has always had a full routine in place with food and bed.. but whether she plays ball is a different matter.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions, I really appreciate the help and support

    #62893 Report


    My situations slightly different. Single mum to a 6 year old.

    But more recent after a break up of an abusive marriage.

    But I have a somewhat “spirited” child and although she doesn’t tip into the typical “naughty” stereotype by any means she’s hyper, full on, none stop and will push every button under the sun at times and is glued to me constantly. She always has been (I think this began because I’ve been her constant when her dad was not in one of his more friendly moods and has stuck, but hey ho). She knows how to shout and argue better than most, but at the same time is the most sweet adoring loveable kid who just wants to be with mum all the time. At school she’s really good so it doesn’t tip over.

    No space or time for my self is a big one and when I am home from work and little one is home from school if I’m not 200% focussed on her she can quickly cause havic. It’s hard work.


    Best things I’ve found which do help and my mood has been awful lately with low motivation (I’ve just refered to talking therapies myself as it’s been a long road and I’m throwing my hands up and saying help me here!)

    Distraction- if your making tea, cleaning, find an easy, safe job. I’ve got almost water, diluted down zoflora so you can just smell it and send her on a mission. Bonus the skirting boards are forever clean. And praise, lots of it. The reward chart never ticked for us either. I find a lot of the rises come from simply not having attention with my girl who is a cling on warrior so getting her involved actually keeps her quiet and busy.  And she thrives of the praise otherwise I’d be nagging her to stop running, get away from that, put that down. It’s hard work but small achievable tasks to break up the day.

    Consequences simple things, so for us it’s tv time. She gets books instead. And stay firm but calm in answers.

    I use the not discussing it anymore and mean it and repeat the phrase when she’s arguing and walk helps keep the spirited, knows everything sassy boots a little more settled so we get through when she’s on one of her more higher days.

    There things which sometimes help us. It’s hard and when my moods low to motivate to do anything is hard

    Routine for me helps too. Bathtime, always when you know there gonna be settled. When you do the shopping get yourself a treat.  Simple things like fresh air each day. What do you enjoy and what makes you tic? If you find the little pieces of you again you’ll find the smiles more.

    Its hard to struggle but there’s always a better day ahead. I’m trying to keep focused too myself

    #62894 Report


    Hi you are doing a brilliant job.  Reading your post I get how you feel about them being relentless and the taking things off doesn’t work

    My son is 4 and he is amazing but he has phases where he is a real handful. Saturday mornings used to be rly bad. Well he would have his tantrums over nothing scream, etc I used to get rly wound up but I used to show and pay attention to what he was doing and get stressed and shout but it made it worse and I used to cancel all plans for Saturdays as I got so uptight and down

    However that seems to be passing now and he understands more not to throw tantrums too often. He knows now I say no a lot if he plays up so he kind of is better in his reactions now and it benefit him and me

    I hope you are OK and you both find that his is a phase that passes. They do seem intense and never ending but they pass and remember your doing it on your own. I have family support but I’m glad you have spoke to someone and hope all goes well

    #62904 Report


    Thank you for your kind words and reaching out.

    I don’t mean this in a bad way but it is nice to know I am not the only one that is/has gone through this, it gives me a sense that things will eventually get better in time.

    I also left a abusive relationship but it was physical abuse.. I just had to get out of there before any more damage was done. Its horrible to say this coming from man but I was genuinely scared and thought she loved me,I didn’t see how it was affecting me at the time but since I left I totally see how it was affecting me and should have not put up with it to begin with..

    The last time she was abusive is when she was arrested.. that’s the night I left and I’ve never looked back since, just waiting to get divorced now.  Funny thing is, the night before our wedding, she was abusive, smashed my head against the wall and strangled me but I loved her and went along with the wedding the next day.

    I haven’t told anyone that, its hard to admit this kind of thing coming from a man’s perspective so.its good to get it off my chest. Speaking to strangers makes it a little easier.

    Anyway, that’s a different matter entirely.. Silly me.

    Once again, Thank you for listening and for the support, you are all amazing people

    #62945 Report


    I get the still getting married when the behaviour has happened just before the wedding. There was an incident a few days before our wedding too where he showed his temper to our guests. I’d seen it a lot of times, though the violence was never towards me, I got the narcasicm, gaslighting and controlling.-feel sorry for the big man behaviour but couldn’t see it at the time. It’s easy to be blinded my manipulation, apologies and fear. I 100% get that but your building your bridges, your standing now in a place on solid ground to make them foundations strong again and you’ve got this.  It’s the main reason I’m taking up the talking therapy. I need to heal to deal with the day and it’s another reach out, although its taken me a lot to hit the point im feeling it. To fix myself will help me to keep my daughter on the right path, as she witnessed some things she should never have had to so we both need to heal. He’s never directly harmed her so she still sees him (well supposed to) but his behaviour has certainly rubbed off. Its hard going.

    Speak away. I find a little peace in it. It’s so lonely and hard sometimes on your own.


    #62955 Report


    So sorry to hear what you’re going through. I’m also a single parent to a 4 year old, generally well behaved but starting to show behavioural issues, mainly with me. This gets most parents down as they feel they are to blame, however I’m lucky to also be a primary school teacher and see this all the time, children being little monsters at home. The main reason for this is you are her safe place, I know this doesn’t resolve things but will put into perspective how you are doing things right. Her behaviour towards you means she is comfortable to be herself, although shown in a negative way, she can be herself. Playing up and being defiant is all a part of learning, they know you will always be there for them, so they push it further. I teach primary 1, which has helped me realise every child is unique, what works for one doesnt for another. It will be lots of trial and error, find out what she responds to, however I do advise lots of structure. Kids at school like routine, knowing what to expect etc, most behaviour issues arise during unstructured times when they are not focussed on an activity. Also might be beneficial to look up attatchment disorder, not for a diagnoses, more for ideas, pin point her struggles and how you can resolve these. Just remember you are her world, the one she can rely on, although hard at times her behaviour is because she loves you x

    #62982 Report


    Just wanted to say well done for accessing help OP.

    I’m quite a bit further on than you since my DD is now sixteen. However in some ways teens I feel are like toddlers – that striving towards independence etc. so in a way the same things apply…routine etc.

    It’s never easy, and I get depressed also and it is hard work keeping those things in place to stave off depression.

    So thinking of you.

    #63005 Report

    I needaliein


    Sounds like you are doing a great job and being really brave in asking for the help you need.

    Am guessing your daughter has just started in reception  at school in Sept?

    Sounds obvious, but it’s such a big change for her, esp if she’s been at home 1:1 with you during lockdowns and maybe had less social times because of  covid than she would have done?

    Over tiredness from school is a big factor for us in bad behaviour, some sneaky early nights & extra quiet time together even if it’s just curling up together in front of something calm for half hr helps a bit- Clangers is good for that as nothing that exciting happens!

    Mine has always been a bit of a limpet- child which sometimes can be really exhausting in itself- but it’s just because I am the constant in her life…

    This stage will pass, you will get through it and things will get easier 🙂

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