Challenges of Single Parenting

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Single parenting unfortunately became a very common predicament. Approximately 40% of American children come from “broken homes” (Feigelman & Finley, 2004). Single parenting usually occurs with negative life events such as a divorce or a traumatic loss (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). As a single parent, raising children is known to cause many problems and difficulties. Adjustment can be very challenging and can thus, result in dysfunctional children (Feigelman & Finley, 2004).

Raising children is a very challenging experience. There are many difficult issues and intense life decisions that need to be made. These decisions and issues can be very tedious and burdensome especially for a single parent. Single parents have all the responsibilities on their shoulder, such as financial obligations (Feigelman & Finley, 2004). They are usually the sole supporters (Feigelman & Finley, 2004). Sometimes they have to take on more than one job just so it can sufficiently support the family. This causes the single parents not to be available for their children’s needs. The children needs may need academic or social assistance, which is very crucial. This can cause a strain on single parents and the children especially if there is a divorce or a custody battle (Feigelman & Finley, 2004).

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Discipline is another area where single parents have difficulty. Coming from a “broken home” can cause many negative and harmful effects on children (Feigelman & Finley, 2004). Research has shown that children with single parents have a higher criminal participation rate, greater use of substance abuse, violence, depression, academic problems and low self-esteem as compared to children with both parents (Feigelman & Finley, 2004). The input and assistance of both parents are necessary when raising children. Although, there are variables that minimizes the negative outcomes, such as children’s age, financial status, and demographics, however, there are still hurtful results that are rampant (Feigelman & Finley, 2004).

Often adjustments are needed when coming from a single parent home. The children need to become accustomed to a certain way of life. There may be just enough money for life necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and little or no money left for luxuries the children may want in order to keep up with their friends. This can cause resentment. Another burden is that the household duties such as, cooking, laundry and cleaning needs, are to be done at the same time as assisting children with homework and other children care. Although, this maybe the routine in every household but single parents have to face these responsibilities alone. In order for single parents to feel less overwhelmed and stressed, help of extended family is needed (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013).

A wider inclusion of family members breeds the health and well-being of youth and reduces the pressure on the parents (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). Another adult or family member should be included to coordinate child rearing responsibilities (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). When single parents receive more support they experience fewer conflicts with children and a rise in positive behaviors. Usually a grandparent or a father’s involvement in children’s lives has a major impact and positive effect on the children. It releases family tension and helps the family system cope (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). A single parent may find it too difficult to fulfill all roles of parenting. They need to nurture the child, be a role model and provide daily care that is often done as a partnership of two parents (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). Co-parenting is a parenting technique that can aid the single parents in providing and fulfilling the roles of parenting (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). The co-parent should be an individual the parent and children can trust and respect (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013).

In order for a single parent to be successful they must be very involved in their child’s life (Cuellar, Forehand, Jones & Parent, 2013). They should be committed every moment and offer a lot of attention. Single parents need to provide security and a stable home. When the foundation of the home is disturbed it creates an increase in the children’s attachment towards the parents (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). This is because if a negative life events such as a divorce or a traumatic loss (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012), occurs, the children will experience a separation from one parent and are therefore afraid of another separation with the other parent (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). This impact causes the children to be extremely attached to the parent (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). The childrenare faced with stress and anxiety. When a small separation transpires the children may result in a behavioral reaction towards the separation. The single parentmay find it difficult to go out with friends, and socialize with their peers. Their children feel a strong attachment with the parent that the children don’t want to be left home alone. They feel less secure, thus causing anxiety in the parent-child relationship. Having a strong attachment is an unhealthy relationship. The parent needs “me time” and to do things they enjoy. They need to unwind and have leisure time in order to be recharged. They need to go to the gym, pamper themselves and be around adults in their age group in order to feel satisfied with themselves. Once the parent feels content it gives them the energy and patience to handle the pressures and challenges of single parenting. If the children have extreme attachment and the single parents feels stuck, it may cause resentment and animosity. The parents can experience a “burn out”, feel frustrated and lose her/his temper easily. For their own mental health and well-being the single parents should incorporate a separate routine and explain to the children that this will not interfere with their relationship or diminish their love. Another obstacle a single mother might have with a son is providing male role model (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). Boysneed someone to identify with for guidance; therefore, she should encourage a relationship with an uncle or a grandfather (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012).

All single parents have full custody of their children and the parents reside with them (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). Usually mothers are given custody since they are the primary caretaker for their children (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). However, in certain situations, when the mother is unfit or deceased,the father will have custody. When fathers are the single parent it is usually more challenging. Mothers are the ones who have the nurturing role and take care of the children (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). The fathers have to work extra hard to fill the void of a mother, a role that is unnatural for them. On the other hand, mothers also may have their share of difficulties. They need to juggle all her responsibility and therefore they expect extra assistance from their children (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). A single parent will require more involvement in care taking and household duties. The children will have designated chores to do and more responsibilities (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). The children have to become more mature and understanding (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They can no longer be frivolous children and must grow up quickly into adulthood (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012).

Single parents are sometimes lacking the emotional support that is provided by the other parent, and therefore may turn to the children for emotional support and be at risk for parentification (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They look upon the children to fill the vacant parental role and to satisfy their needs for comfort in times of stress. They may be more likely to use their children as a confidant to unburden themselves. Instead of parenting their children the roles become reversed (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They begin to treat the child as a friend or an equal and expect them to be emotionally understanding of their situation. Parentification can occur even at a young age. The children need a strong sense of stability from their parent, and to know they can be relied on in a time of need (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). When this is not provided it can lead to stress and anxiety. In result the parent will need to deal with behavioral problems and other issues (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). The children should not be used as pawns or as sounding boards (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012).

Often when a single parent is raising a child he/she may feel insecure or a failure (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They feel inadequate compared to other parents because they cannot offer the same comfort. They are at the scrutiny of others and often given unsolicited advice (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). People might assume because they are parenting alone they are lacking the knowledge on raising children (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They may feel anxious in their parenting skills in case they slip up and be declared an unfit parent there by losing their children (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012). They must be on their guard all the time and make sure they put up a good front for the public (Bernier, Danet & Miljkovitch, 2012).

Single parents encounter many challenges. The major challenges are disciplining their children, financial responsibility and providing a warm and loving home. Children from single parent homes also have disciplinary and behavior problems for their caretaker to deal with. The parents need to include the help of the others and provide a secure and stable environment. They also need to find time to take care of themselves for their own health and being.

References

Bernier, A, Danet, M & Miljkovitch, R, (2012). Intergenerational transmission of attachment representations in the context of single parenthood in frace. Journal of family psychology, 5, 784-792. doi: 10.1037/a0029627. Retrieved from Mercy College library on February 22, 2015.

Cuellar, J, Forehand, R, Jones, D.J & Parent, J, (2013). The role of coparents in African American single-mother families:the indirect effect of coparent identity on youth psychosocial adjustment. Journal of family psychology,2,252-262. doi:10.1037/a0031477. Retrieved from Mercy College library on February 22, 2015.

Feigelman, W & Finley, G.E, (2004). Youth problems among adoptees living in one-parent homes: a comparison with others from one-parent biological families. American journal of orthopsychiatry, 3, 305-315. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.74.3.305.Retrieved from Mercy College library on February 22, 2015.

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