The Effects Of Single Parenting

Over the last few decades, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of single-parent homes. As you might expect, the number of children in single-parent homes as increased as well. Many people believe that separation and divorce are very bad for developing children, while others argue that nothing’s worse for them than constant arguments and even violence in the home.

Social scientists have come to conflicting conclusions on the positive and negative impacts of single parenting. Some studies conclude that living with a single parent results in low self-esteem for the children. Others find no impacts different from two-parent households.

It’s clear, though, that single parents can make all the difference in helping their children adapt and cope with the change to a single-parent household. How single parents deal with their children at this time can mold family dynamics for the future and determine the well-being of both parent and child.
Here are a few ways the newly-single parent can be a positive supportive force for their new family.

1. Help your children understand why you are now single.

Before a separation or divorce, the chances are that the home life wasn’t too pleasant. The children may have overheard fights or witnessed personal violence that you don’t know about. It’s also likely that you weren’t as sensitive to their feelings as you might have been if you hadn’t been going through so much yourself.

Children who don’t understand the realities often assume that they are the cause of their parents’ problems. Now that the fireworks are over, it’s time to be honest with them. You don’t have to go into graphic detail, but you do need to make them understand that they are not responsible for the break-up.

Without blaming the absent parent, explain as much as you can about the basic conflict between you and why you couldn’t work it out. Your openness and honesty will help them put it in perspective and will tell them you respect their feelings. Hopefully, this will also reduce any resentments they may be holding against you.

2. Spend more time with your children.

You’ve all been through a very hard time. Tensions during the break-up may have been intense, and your children may have been aware of and affected by the stress. They probably are very familiar with screaming, fights, and cold silences. They know hostility well.

Now that you’re single and your home is getting more stable, it’s time to invest some time in your kids. Doing things together helps re-establish communications and help you get to know each other outside the conflict and tension of the old life.

Take time to talk to them about your hopes and dreams. Ask them about theirs. Plan and go on vacations, week-end trips, and quick trips to the beach or nature preserve. Have a special family night to “celebrate” the week’s accomplishments. The important thing is spending time together to help heal old wounds and build new healthy relationships. It will produce a happier, healthier family.

3. Become part of your community.

Single-parents have busy lives and many responsibilities. Depending on the age of your children, they may be able to help. But it’s important that you find nearby support. Get to know your neighbors. Where they have children near your kids’ ages, encourage them to play together.

Ask your neighbors for help when you need it. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. You have neighbors who’ll be more than happy to help you out with some baby-sitting or household chores. Neighborhood kids may want to earn a few extra dollars by helping you in your yard.

And don’t just ask for help, get involved. Take part in neighborhood and community events. Volunteer, as a family, to participate in and contribute to block parties, community flea markets and yard sales, community watch programs, and other organized activities.

It will help both you and your children establish new relationships and keep you from feeling isolated or lonely after the dramatic changes you’ve been through.

4. Give your children new experiences.

Your kids may be having a difficult time, especially if their time is divided between parents. They may be trying to adjust to a new school and make new friends. Life may seem overwhelming to them right now. It’s important that they feel that life is still an adventure, and they that belong.

Be sure to ask them about what they did when away and do not, under any circumstances, use it as time to criticize your ex. Show your interest in what your kids did and what they accomplished. Encourage them to participate in events for children, join local sports teams, and learn new things. Keep them interested in the bigger world so that they don’t become self-absorbed and overwhelmed by their personal troubles.

5. Let your children grow up with you.

Children need to feel that they have successes, just like the rest of us. You can encourage their feelings of accomplishment by giving them responsibility. Assign them specific chores in the house, and then leave the tasks to them. Don’t supervise or criticize. Let them fail, and learn, on their own. But do praise them when they do a good job. Let them know how much you appreciate their help and how important they are to your family. And try to find a job for each child that is visible to and supportive of the family unit.

6. Balance your life by prioritizing your life.

Single parents can be overwhelmed by responsibilities and the things that must be done after a break-up. It’s important that you learn how to use your time to make life better for everyone, including you! If your job is too demanding, you may need to find something else so that you can focus on your family. If financial obligations are difficult, maybe a new job’s not the answer. Perhaps trying to negotiate a new working schedule with your boss will be the key.
Begin to think about and create family schedules that are flexible enough for those inevitable unexpected events yet structured enough that your bases are covered. And include recreation and family entertainment in your schedule. Let your children help you develop a schedule. This will be another opportunity for some quality conversation and getting to know each other better. You never know, your children may have some great ideas that will make everyone’s life easier.

7. Make decision-making a family affair.

Now that you’re a single parent, it may be tempting to rule with an iron fist. But that would be a mistake. Your kids need the reassurance of knowing you respect and need them. When decisions about the home or family need to be made, include them in the process. Help them understand your decision-making parameters and the pros and cons of different decisions. This will them become more self-reliant and responsible within the family and afterward as they become adults.

These are just a few things you can do to help your children accept you as a single parent and start your new family life off on the right foot. You should seek advice and guidance from several sources. Internet research may give you a lot of ideas, but you may need to get some personal counseling or face-to-face discussion time for your specific issues.

You may be able to find a support group for single parents that will be very helpful. Other single parents can share with you their experiences and lessons. And you can have some support from people who really do understand your situation.

Dating Single Parents

I admire and respect single parents. They overcome many hardships and challenges, which they face with grace, all the while caring for their children and creating a safe, happy family.

But, you know, single parents are human. They have human emotions and human needs. They need love and affection not only from their children but from other adults who are not also relatives. Like most of us, they need a companion for their life journey.

Some people tell me it’s not right or appropriate for single parents to go on dates. They say that the time for dating in single parent’s life has passed – that the family and children are everything. They tell me that single parents who date are promiscuous or irresponsible.

I strongly disagree. I think single parents have as much right to a social life as anyone. After all, they are single, aren’t they?

Everyone needs love, and most of us want a partner in life. To let society’s whims force us to be lonely is wrong. Single people have a right to be happy and to find someone who will want to help them and support their children.

When you’re the only adult in a household, raising a family is hard. Kids really need two parents when they’re growing up to get a healthy balance of role models and realistic ideas about gender issues. A single parent can’t give that to their children.

And children always grow up and move away. They have families and lives of their own. If a single parent shouldn’t date, you’re saying they are doomed to grow old alone. That just doesn’t seem right.

Some people seem to think that single parents must meet different standards than the rest of us. They may think single parents are immoral people just because they have children and aren’t married. Single moms get criticized for getting pregnant too early or getting pregnant without a husband. Single dads may be accused of being irresponsible or of being more likely to cheat in a relationship. What are people thinking?

The truth is that almost all single parents are hard-working responsible people who care about their families and love their children deeply. They work hard to make a good living for their family and to balance work with school functions with no one to share the burden. It just makes me mad when I hear people judging others for what they assume to be personal mistakes. It just isn’t so.

But single parents may be the best potential mates a person could find. They are mature and responsible. They are obviously committed to their families and children, or they wouldn’t be struggling with the single-parent lifestyle now. It’s the best thing in the world when a single parent dates and finds a partner to build a new life and a strong, normal family.

Finding a partner isn’t easy for single parents. First, they are carrying some baggage from their previous relationship. Whether it ended in death or divorce, there are feelings and habits to break. Second, they have children, which can be a real problem for some singles who don’t have children.

When you’re dating a single parent, you have to accept that they have another set of important priorities in their daily life. You may be tempted to try to compete with them. But that would be a mistake, because you’d always lose. The best thing to do is to accept them for who they are and what their life is like today.

You need to recognize that they love their children very much, and you need to respect that. After you meet the children and get to know them, you will most likely love them too. After all, when you’re in a serious relationship with a single parent, you’re really in a relationship with a family. The kids come with the package.

You may have to deal with some single-parent-specific issues if you want a serious long-term relationship with them. They may have been hurt badly in the past, and they could have some trust issues. You’ll have to show them over time that you can be trusted.

My guess is that you’ll have to demonstrate your maturity, responsibility, and loving nature before a real relationship can get off the ground. And once you gain their trust, you’ll have to earn the trust of their children. That could be even more difficult, since the kids may thing you’re trying to replace the missing parent in their hearts.

The kids will be protective and possessive of their single parent. You might as well be prepared for that. They may suspect that you have evil intentions. Or if the previous relationship was marked with a lot of fighting or violence, they may fear a repeat of those very uncomfortable times.

By being a friend without being pushy, you may be able to begin a relationship with the children. You’ll have to be tolerant of and patient with their moods and suspicion. You’ll have to be loving at the same time you acknowledge they already have (or had) another parent. You’ll have to take it slow with the kids, one step at a time, to build a relationship that will someday be a strong foundation for the happy, healthy family you hope to have with their single parent.

Financial Help For Single Parents

Being a single parent is a difficult challenge, especially when money is tight. If you’re a single parent in financial trouble, you may find this article helpful.

Governments around the world are becoming more aware of how important it is for household with single parents to have a stable source of income. They recognize that single parents have to make difficult choices and sacrifices to provide a safe home for their children.

Single parents, after all, have other options. Abortion is the first decision to make, and single parents have decided not to take this “easy way” out of their situation. They have not abandoned their children or offered them up for adoption. Whether we realize it or not, single parenting is a choice, and many single parents who make that choice are heroes.

Without enough financial resources, the life of a single parent can be difficult and dreary. Struggling from day to day to provide healthy meals is a battle. Providing appropriate clothing for growing children often forces acceptance of hand-me-downs and clothes cast off by more fortunate people. Health insurance may be out of the question, so free and low-cost clinics are the health care services they must choose.

If they don’t have a car, transportation depends on regular operation of sometimes undependable public mass transit systems. And even if they do have a car, regular maintenance costs and repairs may make using that car impossible. Keeping the children well-fed, warm, and healthy is a major task with many obstacles.

Yet, in spite of it all, they continue to trudge their path. They do what they can to meet the challenges and provide their children with as near a normal life as possible. Fortunately, there are places where single parents can go for financial help. This financial assistance may help relieve some of the stresses single parents face. Any help is welcomed help when your children are hungry.

While the federal government offers some limited help, local and state governments most often are the best hope for financial aid for single parents with children at home. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to qualify, but careful research and persistence may pay off.

Where to Find Financial Help

The best places to start looking for financial assistance are your county and municipal governments. Family service departments, children’s agencies, and local unemployment services may offer financial assistance. Your state government may also have programs that will help. Start with the blue pages in your telephone book. Look for family services, health and welfare, employment/unemployment agencies, and children’s welfare departments and agencies. Make a lot of phone calls to find the offices that can help you.

This may be an intensely frustrating exercise, as you’ll get a lot of accidental hang-ups and be transferred more than you think possible. But hang in there. Keep talking to people, and eventually you’ll find that one dedicated public servant who really wants to help. Get their name and keep their phone number in case you need their help again. And thank them for their generosity. They may do it for a living, but the ones who will really work for you do it from the heart.

Once you’ve located the right office, you’ll have to fill out some forms. Be prepared to spend some time doing it. Patience and tolerance are the code words. You can’t gain anything by becoming angry or hostile. As much as it may chafe, be polite and gentle.

When you fill out all the necessary forms, be honest. Half-truths, omissions, and downright lies will only bring disappointment later on, and they may disqualify you from help from any agency in the jurisdiction.

You’ll probably have to prove your income level, jobs you have had or have now, your address, and the number and ages of your children. Be prepared to provide income tax statements, payroll stubs, mail documenting your address, and birth certificates for you and your kids. The more documentation you have in hand, the faster and smoother the process will go.

It’s important that you know the requirements and qualifications. Most financial aid agencies have minimum income requirements. If you more than that amount, you could may not qualify for help. There may be other requirements, too. You may have to qualify on the basis of rent you pay.

Look into the options available for your children. Even if you don’t qualify, your children might be eligible for assistance for school meal vouchers or other services.

How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for Financial Help?

Eligibility requirements will vary by state and by local government. You’ll have to do your homework to find out what’s required in your area. But if you’ve already located the right agencies, the work is almost done. The agency will have pamphlets and brochures that outline their requirements and qualifications.
Generally, there are basic requirements that all governments ask for. First, you must be single – divorced, widowed, or never married. You may not qualify if you are in a common law situation or living with someone without a marriage license.

If you are widowed, you and your children may already qualify for Social Security assistance. Contact your local Social Security Administration office for more information. Once again, prepare yourself for a long frustrating search. Try to find that one person who really cares. They are out there, and if you make enough phone calls, you’ll find them.

If you are handicapped or disabled, you may qualify for disability assistance. Health departments and employment offices may be able to point you in the right direction for help with health and disability issues.

Parents whose partner is in prison may qualify for financial aid whether or not they are legally married. If you can demonstrate that your spouse can not provide funds, you may be able to get financial assistance from your state, county, or community. This will depend on where you live. Contact your state and local law enforcement agencies to start your research. They may be able to help you ask the right questions.

Again, your children may qualify for financial assistance in their own rights. Look into programs that are geared toward health and welfare for children. But beware, you don’t want to get in a situation where the government questions your fitness as a parent. If you have ever had accusations or charges filed against your parenting, this may not be a good solution.

What If I Can’t Get Financial Help?

If your situation is dire and you still can’t get help, it may be time to make some very hard choices. Perhaps you have relatives who could provide living space for a while until you can have a more stable income. Maybe your relatives would be willing to take one or all of your children in for a while until you can get on your feet. As difficult as that decision might be, it’s better than giving your children up to a government institution.

See if local churches can help. They may be able to provide meals and clothing and some medical aid. Offer to do chores at the church in exchange for help.
If you are homeless, try local shelters. People will not let children suffer if there are any choices open to them.

Finally, if you can’t seem to find the help you need, you may need to consider seeking foster care for your children.

Whatever decisions you must make, make them in the best interest of your children. And God be with you in your journey.