I am not a single mom, but I had one. I stood by my mom as she went through a horrible divorce and we came out stronger on the other side. Kids don't come with user manuals, but with on-the-job training, which is not easy. Here are some of the things I've learned from being a son to a single mom.
You have all the best intentions when you tell your son that he's the man-the-house, your protector, your champion. You might think that it gives him confidence, but it is empty bonding. Later on, when he's all grown up, he will still feel responsible for you. Rather release him, step back and let him take care of his own needs.
Let's face it - we all secretly hero-worship our sons, believing that they are our everything. Give him credit for his achievements, cheer him on and let him carry his own banner into battle. Let him take all the credit for his victories - don't make it about you and your struggle to raise him on your own.
Support him in all his wins and losses, without making him feel that he's disappointing you.
The fact that you had to sacrifice or carry on after a divorce, pulling yourself together, is not open for discussion with, or in front of your son. He's the product of your joint history, and you're not a hero for sacrificing to raise him.
Yes, your son is your life, but it is important to allow him to have his own too. If he becomes the entire focus of your life, he will come to depend on your praises for his happiness, and he will feel that he is responsible for yours.
It's not fair to link your happiness to his. You need to find your own happiness that is separate from his. He will benefit most if you become healed and happy. He will learn to be tough by seeing how you survive and conquer. Show him how to find happiness by finding your own.
While you might feel that your son's future happiness and success are your responsibility, it is not. Things didn't work out with his dad, and you might've wanted a better life for you both, but it didn't and you now have to move on. You have to learn to focus your energy on your own recovery.
He will learn most about finding his own happiness through seeing you taking the actions required to find yours. You're the leader in this relationship. Take charge of the wheel and show your son how to recover from divorce healthily.
If you over-protect your son, he will always be looking to you for validation and approval. Your little boy will always be yours, even when he moves on and starts his adult life separate from yours. Let him start to develop independently as soon as possible.
There are some universal truths that apply to all mother-son relationships:
Don't overwhelm your son with your needs and wants. Back off a little and give him space, love and support he needs to grow into the fine young man you want to see.