Parenting Single, But Never Alone!

The next time you think you have it tough as a parent, just give some thought to our single parents.

As a result of divorce, abandonment, a spouse’s death, or an unplanned pregnancy, single parents are living in a situation that they did not choose.

Men and (largely) women find themselves in the unexpected position of being single parents, and yet, they take on this challenge of being a single parent, putting their own needs on the backburner while they place the needs of their children first.

The physical and emotional energy it takes is extremely exhausting. There is no break, and what is worse is that at the end of the day, the single parent often feels it will just never be enough.

The stress and the sacrifice is often tremendous for the single parent, and they deserve all our empathy and support.

divorceSingle parents are now becoming the new “norm”: there is a growing trend of children born outside marriage — a societal change that was virtually unheard of decades ago. 40% of babies are born today to unwed mothers.

An interesting fact is the number of young women who are choosing single parenthood, including a subgroup of professional women who are forgoing marriage, but not single motherhood.

The second group consists of divorced single parents. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million —are being raised, almost exclusively without a father.

Of all single-parent families in the U.S., single mothers make up the majority.

Another growing trend includes single grandparents that are acting as single parents for children unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility.

No matter the subset, each single parent faces financial, social, and emotional stresses that are significant. Life in a single parent household is often stressful for both the parent and the children.

The newly single parent now must do the logistical and psychological work of two, often accompanied with an unhealthy dose of guilt when things fall through the cracks.

New Challenges

  • New responsibilities often impact the single parent’s time with her child.
  • The single parent has to deal with stresses at home and, especially, at school.
  • Single parents have to navigate the reactions of grandparents of their co-parent
  • New relationships- new stepfamilies, girlfriends,step-grandparents etc, complicate matters for the single parent.
  • Often the single parent has to deal with new financial stresses. 28 percent of single parents live at the poverty level. A woman with only a secondary education can raise her yearly income significantly by seeking additional education.
  • Single parents often become embroiled in visitation and custody disputes
  • The single parent often faces health insurance issues when one parent leaves
  • The single parent often must confront depression and isolation.
  • A single parent often faces the loss of old friendships as sides are taken.

Thirteen Actions The Newly Single Parent Should Take Now:

  1. argumentChildren benefit when the single parent ensures an organized household with clear rules and expectations, appropriate consequences for misbehavior, and emotional nurturance.
  2. Single parents must work to preserve much of the familiar family routine as possible. Keep as many family traditions as you can, and find some new traditions that your family can make its own.
  3. The single parent can seek help from the community that may provide structured programs such as mentoring in schools, after-school care, and sporting opportunities.
  4. Children in a single parent family are at high risk for school difficulties and behavior problems. The school-parent relationship is very important, and the quality of the communication must be high.
  5. The single parent benefits from establishing a network of sympathetic individuals-relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, and others that can provide both resources and support, as needed.
  6. The single parent benefits when she understands that she cannot do it all.  By understanding that he/she does not have to be a “perfect” parent, the single mom or dad can reduce the degree of stress in their lives.
  7. It is important for the single parent to have a conversation with her child about learning to do more, with less.  Everyone in the family will end up making a sacrifice, but the quality of family life may be preserved.
  8. The single parent must do research to discover the resources available that provide often needed support for the children.
  9. The single parent must learn not to criticize the absent parent—ever, but especially not in front of the children.  While it may provide a good short-term high, it is destructive to the children’s long-term welfare. If your ex-spouse goes low; you go high. Accepting you can’t change the past will give you ultimate emotional freedom from the past.
  10. The single parent must learn that you cannot control the actions of an ex. w you will be able to move forward. The only thing you can control is how you act and respond towards the ex., and towards your children.
  11. Despite potential limitations of time, money, and energy, the single parent must begin to re-invent herself by providing purpose to her life by pursuing a passion.
  12. The single parent must give her financial picture the attention that it deserves. This is an essential step that each single parent must take to ensure long-term financial independence.
  13. It is important that any single parent place the split from the perspective of the stages of grief: shock, anger, negotiation, and acceptance.  By understanding what stage he/she is going through, a single parent may help better control the emotions involved in such a split, and may help in planning for the future.

What Will Likely Improve For The Single Parent?

Acting as a single parent will be fewer fights and quarrels for kids to witness: Having fewer arguments will make the environment less stressful and make the children feel more secure in their home.

Being a single parent will allow for more positive parental role modeling: For children whose parents were in an unhealthy relationship, it may be easier when asked to follow a predictable way of parenting/

Being in a single parent household often requires children to become more responsible.  Bust single parents need to create a team within the family where responsibilities are shared. This will help the child ultimately establish solid self-esteem.

It takes the village! Single parents often need to rely on others in the wider community to help in caring for the children and in providing support outside of the immediate family.

No one wishes to be a single parent.  Many single-family households can be just as successful as dual-parent families; however, it will require a lot more work to ensure success.

At Confident Parenting, we understand just how difficult single-parenting may be.  We believe that the single parent can be successful, but it will not happen without a plan for future emotional, financial, and relational success for the single family.

Contact us for how we can partner together for success.