In 2013, single moms ran 25% of homes in the United States. Another 6% of the families, meanwhile, only had single fathers. Of course, this number has continued to rise since then. Even though single parenting is becoming increasingly more common, it doesn’t mean that it is getting any easier.
If you have been a single parent for a while, then you know how true it is. If you have recently become a single parent, you are likely just learning about the challenges and how to balance life, work, and family while trying to be a good mom or dad.
Nevertheless, do not despair — there is still hope. Single parenting can be done, and your child can grow up to be happy and prosperous.
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How Single Parenting Affects a Child
It was once highly stigmatized to be the child of a single parent. The terms “illegitimate” and “broken home” were often attached to them. With the increase of single-parent homes, though, the situation has become more normal than ever.
There is often a robust parent-and-child bond in single-parent homes because it is usually just the two of them against the world.
Another positive thing is that children in single-parent homes become more responsible and mature compared to their peers from dual-parent families. After all, they get household chores out of necessity to help their mom or dad.
The adverse effects of coming from a single-parent household are consistent across different studies.
One research explains that children from such homes are more likely to have emotional struggles, drop out of school, and avoid pursuing higher education.
Still, it doesn’t mean that all children from single parents fall into this position. It truly dependents on the overall support that they have gotten from loved ones. Hence, single moms and dads need to set up a support system for themselves and their kids so that extended family and friends can offer help as needed.
Another study found that family relationships were the best predictor of a child’s success in academia and other endeavors. It’s true because the parent-child relationship is very important.
Kids need to be in a loving, caring, and nurturing environment that boosts their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. That’s easy to achieve, whether one or both parents are present. (Try this helpful article: 11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother)
A Single Parent’s Role in the Family
Someone becomes a single parent happens because of a variety of reasons, with divorce, separation, and death on top of the list. Their life is not easy since they need to be an income earner, household manager, disciplinarian, parent, tutor, maid, chauffeur, and loving parent all at once.
Wearing many hats is not a cakewalk for anyone. Playing many life roles while also caring for one or more children takes courage, effort, and commitment. (Assuming you need help in that department, check this out: 13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy))
Often, people don’t choose to raise kids on their own — it’s more of a result of an unfortunate situation. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, though. It merely entails that if you have recently become a single parent, you can set up your life for success in this situation by doing some planning.
How To Survive Single Parenting
1. Have Realistic Expectations
If you set the bar too high, you are bound to be disappointed. Set your expectations realistically when it comes to single parenting.
For example, if you are working two jobs to make ends meet, then being able to attend every soccer game and practice of your child may not be realistic. You may have to ask a friend or family member to get them to and from sports events.
You will be there when you can and when your work schedule allows, but knowing that it won’t always work out as expected helps you to be practical in life. Nonetheless, you need to discuss realistic expectations with your child, so they understand why you can’t always be there for them, even when you want to be.
2. Do Your Best
Every parent needs to let go of their pursuit of perfection. This is especially true when you have more on your plate than moms or dads in dual-parent homes. You can’t do it all correctly. You need to let some things go and do your best in different situations.
Decisions should be made to help make your life more streamlined with your top priorities. For instance, you may have to skip making home-made lunches for your child and give them lunch money instead because it gives you one less thing to do in the mornings.
Try to be flexible. You are only one human being, after all. Just do your best to focus on your kids more than anything else.
They don’t need the best clothes or most fabulous toys that money can buy when they know they have you.
3. Stay Guilt-Free
Most parents tend to feel guilty when it comes to the children, regardless of the situation.
Well, you need to ease up and let go of that guilt because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Something has to give, especially when you are the only one raising your kids.
Don’t get sucked into feeling guilty because you can’t do everything on your own. Yes, you may miss some games. Yes, your child cannot have whatever they want all the time. But this is life, and it is not always fair. Although it is sad, it is not the end of the world.
If your child had a choice, they will choose their parent over any video game or material item any day of the week. Hence, you should not entertain guilt feelings anymore. Stay focused on the importance of your relationship and the fact that you are trying your mightiest to be a great parent and provider.
4. Have a Positive Attitude
Our children feed off of our emotions. The number one role model for a child is their parent. Therefore, parents must be conscious of their attitude and approach toward life.
Life will get complicated, and there will be bumps along the way. An old saying goes like this: “Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% our reaction.”
Say, you find out that your bonus from work is not what you expected it to be. You will have to alter your vacation plans because of that and break the news to your kid. One positive way to react to the situation is by saying, “That’s okay! At least we still get to go on vacation somewhere that’s on our bucket list. Perhaps we can visit the other place next year.”
If we choose to react to challenges positively, we are a good role model for our child. Keep the attitude positive so that your child can emulate your attitude.
Try these 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude.
5. Develop a Support System
As mentioned above, single parents can ask for assistance from extended family, friends, church, community, and other people on the same boat. Some organizations like Single & Parenting helps provide support and information to single parents, for instance. If you visit their website, you can enter your location to find a support group near you.
6. Keep a Schedule
Children perform best when they are following a schedule. When lives become uncertain or unpredictable, it can be scary for kids and possibly cause anxiety.
To best help our children, we should strive to offer structure by creating a daily routine that gives them security and predictability. Something as simple as setting up wake-up time and bedtime can improve their sleep patterns. Other helpful practices include sitting down together for dinner every night and scheduling hours for homework and studies after school.
7. Take Care of Yourself
is essential for parents, single or not. However, single parents often forget me-time because they have too much to do in life. What they don’t realize is that prioritizing yourself regularly can make you feel refreshed.
The self-care methods you pick can only be activities that feed the mind, soul, and body positively. Say, you can get some exercise during the week and attend religious services.
By taking care of yourself, you can provide the best care for your child, too.
If you have recently become a single parent, then life is changing for both you and your child(ren).
Don’t allow the situation to make you lose sight of the critical things in your life. Maintain a fantastic attitude and focus on your new life with your child. Let go of your “what if’s” and ideological views of what your life is supposed to look like.
What matters right now is that you are with them. Love your child and do the best moving forward.
More Thoughts on Becoming a Single Parent
- 15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms
- 15 Things Only Single Parents Understand So Well
- 13 Things Single Parents Won’t Tell You
Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com
|||^||The Atlantic: The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in America|
|||^||Hello Motherhood: The Education of Children of Single Parent Homes|
|||^||Science Alert: Study Spanning Almost a Decade Reveals The Impact Single-Parent Families Have on Kids|
|||^||Single & Parenting: How a Single & Parenting Group Works|