In the U.S. there are about 12.9 million single-parent families. More than 83% of single parents are women. 45% of them are divorced, 34% of them haven’t been married at all, and less than 2% are widows. Unfortunately, these days one of every four children in the country lives in a single-parent home.
Regardless of the reason, (divorced, widowed, or single parent by choice), this way of life can be pretty confusing, demanding, stressful, and very often hectic for both the child and the parent. Usually, a single parent sacrifices their own wishes and needs to provide the child with everything she needs. The parent has to play two roles and to give the child extra attention that she would in ordinary circumstances obtain from both parents.
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Being a Single or a Solo Parent Is Just A Little Bit Different and Much Harder
In some cases, it is not the same if you are a single or solo parent because in the first case there is still the other parent even though his (her) contribution is part-time. Solo parenting means that you and your child (children) is (are) alone in the whole world regardless of whether you have chosen this way of life or you are the victim of unfortunate circumstances.
Living in a single-parent household and struggling with all possible issues by yourself is pretty hard. The first thing you should do is that give up the idea that your family can function at the same principles as a two-parent family. On the other hand, nothing is wrong with your family at all. You just need to organize yourself in the other way, very often with reduced parents’ breakup, lower resources, and poorer finances.
There are a lot of problems you need to deal with on your own. You will have difficulties with maintaining discipline, child’s sorrow because of her friends who live with both parents, behavioral problems in your child including jealousy and suspicion, lack of leisure time, financial difficulties and additional issue with limited child health care, and so on. On the other hand, you should take advantage of the situation. Let’s face advantages, all possible difficulties, and potential pressures you need to deal with as a single or a solo parent.
Positive Effects of Single Parent Families
Although it is difficult for some people to believe, there are various positive sides of a single-parent household.
- The beloved and supported kid has equal advantages and problems regardless of whether it comes from a two-parent or a single-parent home.
- If the parent is self-confident and self-reliant, her (his) kid will be responsible and well-behaved in any case.
- The way your kid uses her free time depends only on a quality time between parent(s) and the child, family routine, and discipline. It is not connected with the type of a family she is a part of.
- A single parent has more opportunity to spend one-on-one time with her (his) child which can create a unique and reliable connection between them. The single parent and the child usually build a closer relationship full of trust.
- A child who is raised in a single-parent home has to share responsibilities, and her participation in the family is irreplaceable. She is usually hard-working, dedicated, and self-confident since the parent tries to support and praise her more often than parents typically do in a traditional family.
- If you are a single parent, it is more likely that your child is ready to cooperate and help you more than children usually do.
- A single parent is overprotective and often supports and encourages her (his) child more if she (he) finds that the kid is sad or disappointed. It will help the child becomes a caring and empathetic parent one day.
- A child from a single-parent family usually realizes her importance in her parent’s life which makes her secure and confident and can help her to be prepared for the ‘real world’.
- Most single fathers are more dedicated to their children than most married men.
- Single parents rarely use punishment and try to solve any issue on the positive and less conventional way.
- A single parent can’t rely on established gender-specific roles. She (He) should be a mom and a dad at the same time and to change her (his) ‘role’ depending on the situation.
- A single-parent family usually implies increased sense of community. The child will build a closer relationship with more expanded family members. Both a parent and a child are often active members of the church community, or parent can look for a single-parent support group.
It is a sad truth that a child raised by only one parent is spared of parental quarrels and conflicts, and she lives an unstressed and more relaxed life.
Negative Effects of Single Parenting
You have to be realistic. There are a lot of problems a single parent have to deal with. Some of them are easily solvable, but some are too hard for one parent who is often in a situation that needs to seek further assistance.
- The parent who is responsible for daily discipline can look demanding and too strict in the eyes of her (his) child. In the same time, child idealizes the absent parent and suffers because of the inability to live with him (her). In some cases, the child blames a present parent because the family has broken up.
- You may feel bad because you are the only one in charge of disciplining a child. I suppose that it is a pretty demanding role and no parent is happy being a ‘bad guy’.
- Left alone when her single parent is on the work, the child often starts to misbehave.
- A single parent can’t spend enough time with a child, and usually, there is no possibility for her (him) to afford a babysitter. Consequently, the child can be untidy and can forget to do her homework. In that situation, the kid also can be immature and without the necessary strength to deal with problems.
- You may feel guilty if your kid suffers in a situation when only she among her friends doesn’t have both parents.
- Very often a single parent is too connected with a child, which can make a child’s going to college more difficult than usual.
- A parent, who needs to work, take care of a child, and to do all housework, usually can’t find spare time for herself (himself).
- If the child is jealous, a single parent may find challenging to build a relationship with someone else. Thus loneliness can become a part of her (his) life. There is no one to share her (his) sorrows and happiness with. The situation is even worse if the reason for single parenting is spouse’s death.
- Without the second salary but with similar demands, a single parent usually has financial troubles. The sad thing is that lack of money can be a reason that a child can’t get adequate medical care or take all the opportunities she has.
- After a divorce, a child can feel ashamed and suffer from adjustment problems. A disinterested former partner can make a situation worse.
- Don’t mention numerous effects of single parenting on child development. Well, after a divorce, a child will crave for affection and can have troubles at school, suffer from self-esteem problems, to lose appetite, or experience issues with sleeping.
- Very often a child of divorced parents feels the blame for a parent’s divorce and new living conditions.
Effects of Single Parenting on Child’s Development
If you are one of the single parents yourself, you will naturally wonder if your status affects the development of your kid. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that your child suffers and has problems which their peers from families with two parents haven’t got, but it doesn’t mean that your child won’t grow up in satisfied and happy person. Anyway, you can expect that your child feels various effects and pressure which are not characteristic to children from traditional families. Let’s see.
The new way of life including disturbed family, suffering for absent parent, and poverty will strongly affect child’s emotions. These kids can feel loneliness, sadness, increased anger, lower self-esteem, difficulties with socializing, and frustration because of abandonment, which can lead to the risk of violent behavior. How hard these effects can influence a child depends on her individuality and connection with the parent she lives with.
Confidence and self-esteem
Many children after divorce feel imaginary guilty and blame themselves for the newly created situation. Pay attention if your child suddenly shows lack of confidence and self-esteem. Try to encourage your kid, praise and prize her, spend time with your little one and validate her feelings. Don’t forget to encourage your child trust you and have confidence in you.
Anxiety and stress
Both the anxiety and stress will impact everything including your kid’s relation to friends and school achievements. Avoid arguing with your ex-partner especially in front of your child and don’t criticize him (her). You should do everything possible to reduce child’s anxiety. Also, avoid excessive emotionally relying on your child because it will affect her emotional development.
Child’s suffering because of parent’s sadness
Your child will always notice when you are upset, sad, or angry. It is actually healthy and pretty standard in every family. You shouldn’t pretend that everything is OK. The important thing is to show your little one that having negative feelings from time to time is entirely acceptable.
Just let your kid know that you love her, that your negative feelings aren’t connected with her, and that things will get better over the time. When you express both positive and negative emotions, you actually give your child a ‘permission’ to express her own feelings as well.
Take care not to make your child feels guilty for spending fun time with the other parent. Don’t ask your child about the other parent’s new partner or new friends because the kid shouldn’t be involved in your marital disputes in any possible way. Also, if you are not capable of fighting with your loneliness and sorrow, all these negative feelings will place your kid under stress.
The problem with lack of ‘extra hands’
Because your child should help you with housework, she will possibly need to reduce the time for ordinary kids’ activities. Please, be supportive and let your dearest child be a child. She needs to play and hang out with her friends.
Relationship with the other parent
Unfortunately, child’s relationship with the other parent (usually with father) might get worse after a separation. This situation affects the child badly and she may believe that she has done something wrong or to feel abandoned. Try to talk to your ex-partner and do as much as possible to keep their relationship satisfying. It is possible to maintain a stable parenting environment for your child if both of you try to work as a team altogether regardless of divorce.
You should expect that there is a high possibility that your child won’t understand your need to spend time with another adult. The severe issue can come out if you decide to go for a date. A jealous kid won’t accept the new ‘dad’ or ‘mom’ without resistance. Be aware of this and be careful. No one expects you to spend the rest of your life alone, but you should find an appropriate way to explain the new circumstances to your child.
New circumstances in a combination of lower household income and the absence of a male figure very often result in the child gets worse grades at school.
The primary reason is that single mothers need to spend more hours at the working place or to work two jobs, which mean that a child is left alone the most of the time, changes her routine, and loses guidance with her homework. Some studies show that a child who is in regular contact with her father does better in school.
You should try to keep in touch with your child’s school activities and solve all issues along with a child’s teachers. Find the time to help your child with homework and discover many available free resources for learning in your local library or on the Net.
There is a higher possibility that single-parent household struggle with poverty. Your bills are the same, but there is one salary less, and your child will notice a gap between your income and the earnings of their peers’ parents. That situation can lead to the increasing level of stress for both the parent and her child.
You can begin to look for the most cost-effective way to solve the problem. Also, you should work on a good relationship with your child and discover many fun things you can enjoy together without spending money. It won’t be easy, of course, but both of you can and must get through this.
Become the child of a single parent is always tricky and you as a parent can expect many issues during a transition period. However, there is no reason to worry. According to results of many studies, if you practice positive single-parenting, your child doesn’t need to have any issue with her educational and social development.
Moreover, these children very often show strong responsibility skills. They also have a special closer connection with their parent (sometimes with both of them), family friends, and extended family members. If your child feels your commitment and love, you can overcome the difficult period of sadness and adjustment with a lot of mutual understanding and trust. I wish you all the luck you can get.