Single Parenting: The Good And Bad

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 1, 2022

Parenting is not an easy job with two or more parents. One can only imagine how hard it is, then, with just one parent. The truth is that some families do function in this way. People become single parents for some different reasons including death, remarriage, separation, and divorce. However, many single parents have never been married.

What Is Single Parenting?

When you think of a family dynamic, you may not think of one parent doing all the work. But this is a sad reality which has been increasing significantly over the past seven decades. As of 2020, approximately 18,600 parents are have no partner present. Any parent can tell you that it’s hard enough to raise a kid when you have a partner around to help you, let alone taking on that challenge of doing everything yourself. It is important to recognize all of the single parents of all genders, regardless of how they became such and make sure they are getting the support they need, for example access to an online therapy service and a healthy support system.

Tips For Newly Single Parents

There are several styles of raising a child out there, and it can be infinitely more difficult to know which one you want to go with when you don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off of. One thing you should not do is try to go it alone. If you don’t have any family members that are dependable, reach out to some of your friends.

Ask For Help

It is stressful being a parent on a good day, let alone a bad one. You need to have time to yourself, whether it’s to blow off some steam with a good movie and a glass of wine, or get some housework done, so you stop looking at the same messes day in and day out. While it can be tempting to be SuperParent, the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” didn’t come from nowhere. We understand how hard it is to reach out for help, especially without professional help, but we hope that when you need help, you'll ask.

Keep A Routine

One of the things single parents tend to worry about the most is being able to provide their children with a sense of security. The best way to establish this is to create a routine and stick to it. When the child knows what to expect around the same time every day (when they brush their teeth, when they have their meals, etc.), it takes away the stress that comes from not knowing what to expect and when.

Don't Make Your Children Parent Themselves

Sometimes, single parents rely heavily on their children. They share their financial burdens with their children, as well as the struggles they go through both as a parent and, if applicable, with their former spouses.

Try to let your children be children. Childhood is so precious and fleeting. Don’t force your kids to grow up before they have to. Young children do not have the life experience nor the emotional capacity to be able to help their single parent in a situation like this. So if you find yourself relying too much on your children for a shoulder to lean on, reach out to your adult family members and friends for support. If none are there, consider speaking to a professional counselor.

At the same time, try not to shut your kid out. Not involving them in anything could be equally as harmful as involving them in everything. As much as you want to help your child, your child wants to help you.

Spend Time With Your Kids

Remember in the previous point the part about childhood being fleeting? You’re truly going to regret it if you don’t take some time out each day to enjoy your kids while they’re still kids. Single parents often struggle to maintain financial balance, taking care of both themselves and their child. This might mean working more than one job or long hours at one job, so their time is limited as it is.

But when you get that five spare minutes, try to spend some of that time with your kids. Get down on the floor and play with their dolls or cars with them. Let your kids know you’re there for them.

This being said, you should never have to sacrifice your own mental health. If you need a break, take a break. It's really hard to find a steady balance between focusing on yourself and focusing on your children. This is why it is so important to have a parental support system in place.

Use A Positive "Parenting Tone" When Talking To Your Kids

Positive tones encourage listening, studies show. The way you interact with your child will have significance in your bond with them and even how they interact with others. We don't expect you to be positive all the time– everyone is entitled to their feelings– but taking a deep breath, a step back, and assessing yourself and your tone will have a positive impact on your child's relationship with you. 

Ask For A More Flexible Schedule

Being a single parent sometimes requires us to ask for things we’d never ask for, and do things we’d never have done. One of these things is to ask our bosses for a modified schedule so that we can spend more time with our kids.

It can be terrifying to ask for this, but if you don’t, you’ll never know, and you could be getting more time back with your kids that you’re instead spending at the office – chances are, staring at a computer screen, counting down the hours to go home, rather than being productive. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time with your kids?

In today’s modern age, many bosses are willing to work with their employees to transition to a partially remote position, or to adjust their hours to be more flexible so they can be home, parenting their children. If you think you can swing it, you can also cut back hours on your full-time job and take on some freelance work that you can do at night while your child is in bed. This way, you’re still making the bills, but you have more hours to spend with your child each day, which is simply invaluable.

Treat Your Child With Respect

When being a parent, it is necessary to assume authority. You are, after all, their parent. But in all families, it is important that everyone, even the children, get treated with the respect they deserve. Try not to talk down to your child. Children are so much smarter than we give them credit for, and being talked down to constantly can hurt their self-confidence. 

Remember You're Part Of A Team

Being the only parent is hard. Remember, though, you are not going through this experience alone. Being a parent can be scary, no matter your situation. That's why it's so important to have a team of people who you can rely on. A support system to help both you and your child not just cope, but thrive. 

Not only are you part of a team of other adults, but you and your child are a team. As long as you try your hardest to take care of them, they will also take care of you. Parenting is not one-sided. Learn from your mistakes, and grow from them. 

Are you a single parent who is looking for more advice on how to make it through the day? Consider reaching out to our counselors here at BetterHelp for more information.



Commonly asked questions found below:

What are effects of single parenting?
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What are the four types of single parents?
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