Common Struggles Faced By Single Parents

a mum and child
*This article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp

Parenting can be a difficult yet rewarding journey for anyone. However, single parents often face unique concerns that their partnered counterparts may not experience. Even if coupled families go through these tough situations, they typically have more resources and support to navigate them, including help from one another.

Whether someone is a single parent by choice or not, being the sole guardian and provider for a child can present challenges. Here, we’ll cover some of the most common struggles faced by single parents. We’ll also offer guidance on how to move through these obstacles with confidence so that you can get back to providing a safe, nurturing home environment for your child to grow up in.

Struggles Faced By Single Parents

Most single-parent households result from some type of separation, like a divorce, or from a death in the family. However, a small number of them are intentionally created by individuals who want children but either don’t want a partner or are not in a place in life where they’ve found the right partner.

In either case, being a single parent can be challenging, taking a toll on one’s mental and physical well-being. While every situation is different, the following struggles may be more likely to affect single parents:

  • Poor work/life balance: While many couples designate one parent to stay at home and send the other off to work, single parents don’t have that option. They must be able to provide for their children, which means they have to work. Finding time to be successful at your job while also cleaning the house, feeding your kids, sending them off to school, and picking them up after sports practice can make it feel impossible to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
  • Financial strains: Single parents often have a lower income since they’re the sole provider. Some may receive child support or alimony, but this isn’t always the case. Trouble paying the bills and paying for meals can lead to high levels of stress, impacting single parents mentally and emotionally.
  • Fewer resources: Resources such as time, education, childcare, and flexibility may be more limited in single-parent households. Instead of receiving support (such as babysitting) from two extended families, there may only be one in the picture. Sometimes, a single parent may not have any support at all from other family members, leaving them to do everything alone without a break.
  • Trouble bringing the family together: Parents and children alike often have a difficult time adjusting to their new normal after a divorce or separation, and certainly after a death. However, single parents often have to put aside their feelings and attend to their children, despite struggling themselves. Building a new foundation on which the family can grow is important, but when a child’s sense of safety structure has been shattered, it can be difficult to get them to engage with this process. Therapy may be useful in these cases, as it can allow parents and children to find support while also encouraging family bonding. Learn more about therapy for single-parent households by visiting www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/strengthening-family-bonds-with-therapy-for-single-fathers/
  • Loneliness: Lack of time can make it challenging to stay connected with friends, family, and other loved ones. Thus, single parents may be more prone to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This may be even more apparent on days like birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations.
  • Finding time for themselves: Single parents typically put their needs last, tending to their children, workplace, and home life before themselves. Some of the responsibilities they often have include doing all the household chores, paying bills, cooking for and feeding their kids, taking care of any pets, helping their kids with homework, showing up for work and performing well, and making sure their kids are making it to and from school on time. 
  • Conflict with their child’s other parent: For single parents, conflict with their child’s other parent can be difficult to handle on top of other mounting responsibilities. Some parents choose to co-parent, but in the case of an uncooperative ex-partner, this can be challenging to do. In some cases, custody battles might take place, putting strain on both the child and the parent.
  • Trouble choosing a parenting style: Coupled parents can lean on one another when raising their children, allowing for correction and growth throughout the parenting journey. Single parents often walk a fine line between being lenient and strict, as they may feel that they have to play the part of two parents.

Although these are some of the most common obstacles faced by single parents, there are many more potential challenges they might run into. Being proactive, planning ahead of time, and having backup plans for different situations can help safeguard the entire family in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Support And Resources For Single Parents

Single parents may be able to navigate parenthood more successfully by following a few key tips. These include:

  • Practice self-care: It can be difficult to find time for yourself as a single parent, but doing so is crucial to your well-being. Self-care doesn’t have to take a long time, and it can be anything you’d like it to be. You might listen to a podcast on your drive to work, read a book before bed, or write your thoughts down in a journal.
  • Build a support network: You may not have your child’s other parent or a partner involved in your life, but you can still form meaningful, supportive relationships with other people. Lean into your friendships by talking on the phone or grabbing a cup of coffee in person. Reach out to any family members that you’re close with and continue to nurture those bonds by spending time together. Having people to depend on can help your mental health while also giving you connections to fall back on should you need extra help.
  • Multitask: You have a lot to do as a single parent, making multitasking a critical skill. Try showering while the dishes are running in the dishwasher, folding laundry while spending time watching a show with your kids, or listening to an audiobook while you cook dinner. All of these shortcuts can save you precious time to spend on other responsibilities or give you more time to spend with your kids.
  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize: Some things in life are more important than others. Decide what your priorities are, whether that’s spending more time with your family or making more money at work. Knowing what’s most valuable to you can help you make decisions more quickly instead of wasting time weighing your options.

Although parenting can come with a multitude of challenges, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. Still, it’s important to acknowledge how hard it can be to balance work, finances, and family responsibilities all by yourself. The feelings of loneliness and the pressures of solo decision-making can be overwhelming, but with dedication and perseverance, they can be overcome.

While you may doubt your abilities as a single parent, rest assured that you can still create a loving, positive home for your children even on your own. Prioritizing self-care, building a strong support network, and learning how to multitask can all be valuable tools during your parenting journey.

All around the world, single parents continue to endure, creating nurturing environments where their children can thrive. It’s important to remember that the love and commitment you pour into your family will ultimately shape their futures, as well as your own. You are more than capable of being the type of parent your child needs and the type of person you desire to be.

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