On Being a Single Parent

Shoshana Alexander, author of "In Praise of Single Parents," offers these tips:

* Take on the job as if you were about to climb a mountain. Dedicate yourself to the task. In other words, choose to do it, instead of trying to find ways out of it--such as looking for a partner to share the parenting. Being a single parent will strengthen you as a person.

* Make the child a priority. Choose work that has flexible hours, if possible. Create a schedule that includes daily time with the child. Lead a child-oriented life, but not a child-centered life.

* Extend your family. It is crucial to include others in your and your child's lives. Reach out to friends, neighbors, relatives. Join support groups or live with others. Do whatever you can to build a group of people you consider to be family but who are not necessarily blood relations. Remember the South African adage: "It takes a whole village to raise a child."

* Learn that it's OK to ask for help. In fact, it's essential. Realize that the friend or extended family member you ask for assistance may consider it a gift and an honor to be asked, whereas you consider it a favor.

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