How to Raise Children in a Single-Parent Family

Raising children in a single-parent family has many challenges, as it involves one parent without the help of a partner. Learn more.
How to Raise Children in a Single-Parent Family

Last update: 10 April, 2022

Raising children in a single-parent family has many challenges, as it’s a situation in which all the responsibilities fall on the same person. It can be as difficult for a single mother as for a father, but there’s no manual for how to act in these cases.

It’s common in these times that this type of family has been premeditated. Such is the case of women who want to have their children being single. But it also occurs in other cases by choice, for example, in cases of separation or divorce.

In any case, raising children by oneself is complicated. Therefore, in the case of a single mother or father, the task is even more complex. However, it’s not impossible to raise children correctly without the help of the other parental figure.

Tips to promote good parenting of children in a single-parent family

A father with his child over his shoulder laughing.

The education that begins at home is the most important, so it shouldn’t be neglected even when we’re alone in this task. Many times, disciplining a child requires the intervention of two parents; It’s also important that children live within a stable family that can offer them peace of mind.

Although there’s no recipe for raising children in a single-parent family, you can take advantage of some tips that have worked for other families and that are surely approved by experts. To continue this difficult process, you can take note of the following recommendations.

  • Try to have harmony and good among family members with the purpose of making it easier to channel common requirements. This also contributes to being able to manage the necessary information about what happens at home, as it will be up to us to solve them alone.
A single mother hugging her teen daughter from behind.
  • Carefully analyze your decisions because the responsibility that implies not having another person to consult can lead us to make mistakes more often if we don’t think things through better.
  • Spend time with your children. It’s normal for a parent who’s alone to take care of more things at the same time. Therefore, it’s possible that they have to work more than necessary and that their free time ends up being dedicated to other obligations. However, it’s essential that you set apart a special time to share with your family.
  • Try to be tolerant and patient with the situation. Being under the same stress all the time can make us lose control, which could lead you to transfer your frustration to the children. Not knowing how to act in these cases often leads to anger taking over; but before any action, you must remember that your children aren’t to blame and that they have no one to turn to if you mistreat them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s likely that up until now, you haven’t felt the support of anyone else, but surely there will be someone willing to help you. If the problem is economic, there are government aids that can alleviate this situation.
  • If, on the other hand, it’s a psychological problem or some physical discomfort, be sure to seek the good action of a family member or specialized personnel that can help you reestablish control over the situation.
  • Set clear rules. Perhaps due to the fact that your children don’t have the intervention of another person, they take advantage of the situation by manipulating your feelings in their favor. This ends giving children a sort of control over you as a parent, whether it be conscious or not, and this must be constantly and firmly avoided.
  • To ensure that discipline and respect prevail, clear rules of coexistence must be created so that children feel that there’s control in their home.
  • Take some time to take care of yourself. We know that your children will require much of your attention, but there will always be room for yourself. Finding a moment to relax and take care of your health is essential to achieving the correct development of emotions and relationships in single-parent families.

Single-parent families, a growing trend

The number of single-parent families that exist is on the rise, and the majority are headed by women. Another characteristic associated with this type of family is economic hardship, as the current model of society often requires the income of two parents.

Of the almost two million single-parent households in Spain in 2020 (5.4% of households), 1,006,000 had a child under 25 years of age. And the majority of these households, 81.1%, are under the responsibility of the mother. So, difficulties are common in areas as sensitive as:

  • Employment: The mother faces difficulties in accessing employment, and when she does, it’s in precarious conditions. Part-time and temporary contracts predominate, which means a lower income and fewer benefits like health insurance, retirement, etc.
  • Family: Consequently, they have more problems reconciling work, family, and personal life, a situation they can only deal with when they have the support of family and friends. Children in a single-parent family may present episodes of sadness, isolation, aggressiveness, and in general, behavioral and performance problems in the school environment.
  • Economy: It’s difficult to make ends meet, pay for services, and face unforeseen events.
  • Housing: Often, the option is rented housing in conditions of legal vulnerability due to non-payment.
  • Health: The most common disorders at that time are depression, stress, and anxiety. Also sadness, fear, anger, insecurity, and loneliness.

Single-parent families during the pandemic

The pandemic meant an increase in the burden on all parents, but especially on the shoulders of mothers, who were forced to tend to the needs of their own children as well as relatives affected by the virus, while also trying to care for themselves, handle finances, and work at the same time.

Being a mother is an all-time job, meaning there’s little to no time to relax outside of work and household responsibilities. And the pandemic only exacerbated this situation as many women had to fulfill their work responsibilities from home while simultaneously caring for and schooling their children.

A report revealed that psychological distress increased among women and more so in those who, due to age, sex, family structure, educational level, ethnic origin, and physical and/or mental situation or condition, are more vulnerable, such as being a mother in a single-parent family.

Keeping these considerations in mind would help alleviate weight and anguish in favor of happier and emotionally healthier children and adolescents.

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