It’s pretty safe to say that no one is really prepared to become a single parent. Whether the transition to single parenting happens as a result of divorce or death of a spouse, or a spouse who works shifts or is away for extended periods of time, the result is still the same. The responsibilities and roles of two parents are heaped on the shoulders of the one.
According to U.S. Census records, “approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States today ... are responsible for raising 21.2 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today” (1) and single father homes are the fastest growing type of family situation showing a 60 percent increase in the last 10 years. (1)
The Ultimate Single Parenting Challenge
The ultimate single parenting challenge is to not beat yourself up for not doing everything perfectly, particularly when it comes to trying to meet all your children’s needs, while trying to take care of yourself too.
This includes dealing with the feelings associated with:
• Coping with the loss of your partner
• Taking on the extra roles usually covered by two people
• Managing the challenging finances of a single income
• Inadequacy and self-esteem (particularly in the case of a separation and divorce), and abandonment
It is so difficult to keep yourself mentally and spiritually healthy, while also trying to help your children do the same through this time. What can wear on a single parent even more is the judgment felt from others, regardless of the reason for becoming a single parent.
Smoothing the Transition to Single Parenting
First of all, give yourself a chance to heal. Don’t expect to be able to handle everything from the outset and don’t expect to be able to do everything you were once able to do.
Secondly, learn to ask for help. This is definitely one of those times when you need a support circle, whether at church or community center or somewhere else. This is another tricky part of transition, particularly if your normal circle of friends have vacated your life as a result of your situation.
Thirdly, learn to say "no.