Read these 24 Single Parenting Issues Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Single Parent tips and hundreds of other topics.
While single parenting is not a choice many people would intentionally make, it can have its rewards. Many times single parents discover they are capable of doing more than they ever thought possible and that they have skills they did not know they had. They become more self-reliant and less co-dependent upon others for their existence. And hopefully they learn that true happiness must come from within, not from other people. Single parenting is very challenging, but it can also reap benefits if you accept the challenge and grow through it.
One of the most significant challenges facing single parents would have to be trying to make ends meet financially. Single parents usually must survive on only one income, whereas other families usually have two parents working providing double income. If there is a hostile divorce, the single parent must also deal with developing amicable relations with the other parent, which can be a challenge in itself. Visitation, collecting child support, joint custody of children, and not to mention power struggles, are all issues that present challenges to single parents. Fortunate are the ones who can settle their differences harmoniously as it makes life much easier not only for them, but also for the children. However, all challenges can provide opportunities for learning and growing. View them as challenges to be overcome, not obstacles of defeat. You will be a much stronger person.
First of all, let me state that having two parents is usually better than one. However if the two parents do not get along and the child is being subjected to a lot of arguing and family strife, then a single parent household is better. While a good two-parent household is ideal, sometimes it is not always possible. If you find yourself in a situation where you are raising your children alone, it is important you not become discouraged. Your children are not doomed for failure and defeat. Teach your children about love and respect for others. Teach them about living in peace with themselves and others. Teach them how to value life and enjoy it. In short, teach them to count their blessings and not look at the bad situations they cannot change. Help them find ways to learn and grow from the experience. Children in single parent households usually learn responsibility from necessity earlier than children from two-parent households. There can be many good side effects from single parenting. It does not all have to be negative. Focus on the positive things you can do and teach your children. Teach them how to make lemonade when life gives you lemons. And do not forget, children learn by example, so be a good role model for them to follow by setting a good example. Instilling in your children a positive outlook on life in spite of the misfortunes will help chart their success for the future.
One of the most difficult things a single parent can struggle with is having to do everything by themselves with no one else to blame if it does not get done. They quickly learn that if something has to be done, they are the one that has to do it. Even if you have developed a network of friends with which each helps each other, you may find there are some jobs to be done that no one is capable of or has time to do. Example, earlier this year, I learned how to repair a crack in my basement wall that leaked every time it rained and caused a mess. When no one was available or willing to fix it, I sought advice from others on what needed to be done, went to the local hardware store, talked with them and bought the necessary supplies and fixed it myself. Accepting and learning from challenges is part of a growing and developing process that we never outgrow. The day we stop learning is the day we begin to die.
Children in single-parent homes can learn to help with household chores and care for younger siblings, which helps them develop maturity quicker than those families that have two parents who do everything for them. Children can learn more quickly to be self-reliant, solve problems, and accept responsibility for their actions. They also can learn that life is not fair and to make the best of the situation. Children can also benefit by sometimes having the best of both worlds—quality time with each of their parents individually, which is something they may not get in a traditional two-parent family where the parents may get so caught up with making a living that they forget to make a family life.
A single parent family is a family where there is only one parent and one or more children living together in a home atmosphere, versus a family that has two parents living in the home. Married couples, at times, may find themselves in the role of a single parent if the other parent is away from the home for an extended period of time due to work, military duty, or imprisonment. Basically it one parent having to serve a dual-parent role, that of both mother and father to a child or children in the extended or permanent absence of the other parent.
According to information from the U. S. census website, there are 12,687,000 female single-parent households, and 4,028,000 male single parent households (or over 16,715,000 single parent families in the U.S.). For further information, check the US census website at www.census.gov.
Single parents should not be affected any more than dual-parent household where both parents work outside the home. In this day and age, it is uncommon and often unrealistic for a parent not to expect to work outside the home. When a person chooses to have a child, they also are choosing to take responsibility for the well being of that child. It is not the government's or anyone else's responsibility, it is ours. Being responsible means providing for your child's needs which includes the physical needs as well as the emotional needs.
BUDGET FOR VISITS. Regardless of the reason for the distance it is your responsibility to make sure enough money is allotted for gas, plane, bus or train fares to see your children. Plan on a specific date and set money aside to cover the expenses. Stick to the date planned if at all possible. Even when your children say they understand, there is still a feeling of rejection regardless of how good the "excuse" is when a visit it canceled.
When traveling with your non-custodial child, you may want to pick up small souvenirs, postcards, and other small items for your child and stash them away. After you return home, you can send them periodic mementos throughout the year to remind them of the time you spent together and generate anticipation for your trip. This is a small, yet inexpensive way to stay connected with your child and let them know how much you love them and spending time with them.
Children who are taught to help with household chores and care for younger siblings develop maturity quicker than children whose parents do everything for them. They learn more quickly to be self-reliant, solve problems, and accept responsibility for their actions. They also learn life is not fair and learn to deal with it. Make sure you children are adequately provided for when you are at work, and be careful not to place too much responsibility of them. Remember, they are children and should be able to enjoy their childhood years.
Send photographs to your children. They will be more comfortable being able to "see" where you are. If you have moved, it is a great way to help them get acquainted with your new home before visiting. Especially send photographs if you have changed your hair style, lost weight, grown or removed facial hair. This prevents you from appearing to be a "stranger" when it comes time for a face to face visit.
The rights of parents are guaranteed under the Constitution, but this does not mean parents are completely free to do as they please with respect to the rearing of their children. If the court feels there is enough evidence to substantiate the fact that the parents are not acting in the best interests of the children, the court can step in and act accordingly.
If your child has a computer, consider getting "on-line" and communicating through e-mail, instant messenger or private chat rooms. Most computers have microphones built in therefore allowing you to utilize the voice chat option offered by many messenger services. This can be a lot less costly than phone bills and it provides a way for sending letters instantly. You can also play games with your child (go fish, checkers, etc.) utilizing game websites like Yahoo.com. An inexpensive web-cam can allow you to talk "face to face" and enjoy your chats in "real time".
Write little notes on a daily or bi-daily basis to your children and mail them. Children love to get mail. They do not have to be long letters, just letters to let them know that you are thinking about them. If you have more than one child, be sure that your write separate notes to each of them and mail them all separately. It means so much more to a child to get his or her very own letter rather than having to share a "Dear Kids" letter.
Start a round robin story or letter. You write 1/2 of a page and then send it to your child. He or she writes 1/2 a page and sends it back to you. This can help younger children feel comfortable writing, and gives an older child a chance to write creatively. Since this is an on-going project it will help keep you and your child in touch even during the busy summer months.
As of October 1989, anyone involved in a contested paternity case must submit to genetic testing. If the accused father is served and fails to respond to the complaint against him, a default judgment will be entered in court establishing paternity. At the same time, a court order for support may be issued.
If you are unmarried at the time your baby is born, ask to complete voluntary paternity acknowledgment forms at the hospital when you give birth.
If paternity is not established at birth, telephone the support specialist at your county Department of Social Services for free help. (You do not have to be on public assistance to seek help, from the support specialist.)
Unwed fathers have few rights concerning their children. An unwed father does not have the right to require the mother of the child to obtain his consent or notify him before undergoing an abortion. If the mother decides to bear and keep the child, however, the unwed father will be required to pay child support if a court determines or he acknowledges that he is the father; in addition, he has the right to visitation with his child and may seek custody.
A court suit filed to have a man declared the father of a child is called a paternity action. It can be brought by either the mother or the father. If paternity is established, the court will order the father to pay child support and grant him custody or visitation rights. Today, blood and DNA tests can affirmatively determine paternity with a 99.99% accuracy, and can rule out paternity with 100% accuracy.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|