Being a single parent brings numerous questions and often lots of uncertainty. Can you do it alone? You can, but it will be a challenge. Answering the question is something you have to do for yourself. Many women struggle with fears of failing or feelings that life is unjust. If you are a single parent, chances are you are interested in finding ways to make the most of your situation. Here are some suggestions:
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Doing It Alone: Common Challenges:
- Making up for lost income or establishing a source of income:
- Earn supplemental income from home.
- Identify other ways to make ends meet (see Single Parenting: Making it Work)
- Seek opportunities to share responsibilities with other single parents. (i.e. childcare, carpool, laundry, and cooking).
- Meeting the child’s needs:
- Get connected with a support group, a church, your child’s school and/or parenting classes
- Communicate with your child about the things you both enjoy and believe are important.
- Finding time for yourself:
- Find a support group or mentor where you can communicate openly about what’s going on in your life.
- Take turns with other parents taking care of children. Use your free time to relax or do something you enjoy.
- Providing a good home:
- Live with a friend or in a group home
- Live with a relative or your parents.
- Live in subsidized housing, or find an inexpensive apartment of your own.
Single Parenting as a Result of Divorce or Death:
- Losing a spouse can include losing an extra source of income, losing family members, and possibly losing some friends. Take time to focus on your interests and develop confidence in your new identity as a single parent.
- Keep boundaries on your work life. Since you will probably be operating on a tighter budget, you might be tempted to work more than usual. Regardless, don’t use work as an escape. Take time to re-evaluate your priorities and remember that your child needs your presence at home.
- Allow your child to express his/her individuality. While it is easy to lean emotionally on your child after losing a spouse through death or divorce, remember that your child should not overly burdened by your own emotional needs.
- Find a mentor, or a group that offers friendship, activities, and support.
- Allow your child to help you with household tasks without overburdening him/her.
Doing It Alone: Single Parenting
- Don’t lose sight of your long term goals. Providing a positive environment for your child, finishing school, or continuing your career are all possible with the right amount of sacrifice, energy, time, and support. Effective support can include family members or churches with programs geared toward helping unmarried mothers.
- Find a support group of individuals with similar circumstances.
- Deciding on when to start dating can be a difficult decision. Be careful to not rush into another relationship. Be aware of any feelings you might have that you are obligated to find your child a mother or father. Do not let those kind of thoughts control your behavior!