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According to statistics, in the US, single parent families have almost tripled in the last few decades. And majority of the single parent families are ‘female headed’. More than 20 million kids in the US live with one parent. Separation and divorce are the common causes behind broken families. Single parent families with at least one child under age 18 in the home and maintained by single parent has risen from 13% in 1970 to 30% in 1992. Read the facts and figures on single parenting.
Reasons for single parenthood
This may occur due to a variety of factors. One of the parents could have opted for this status. Divorce, adoption, artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood, extramarital pregnancy, death or abandonment of one parent are some of the known reasons for single parenthood.
It is often found that children of single parents exhibit more maturity. They share household responsibilities. They develop the ability to look after themselves without external help. Most of the time, the kid is left to themselves as the parent would be at work. Thus, these children learn to handle loneliness as well. Children groomed by single parent are particularly independent, resourceful and responsible.
Studies reveal that most children from single parent families do well as there are several other factors that are responsible for development of a child in single parent families. They include the age of the parent, his/her education level, occupation of the parent, the family income, family support network inclusive of friends and relatives and also extended family members.
The aches of single parenting
Living with a single parent instead of a couple can bring a lot of emotional turmoil for the child. These children suffer confused and strong emotions and feel terribly hurt and angry. Sometimes when a mother brings home a man she is dating the child is bound to feel upset.
A Swedish study in 2003 stated that children living with single parent were about three times more likely to kill themselves or end up in the hospital after an attempted suicide by the age of 26 years than children living with two parents. Several negative social, behavioral and emotional risk outcomes seem to be present for children of single parenthood. It can get tough for the child when their mother or father is out most of the time having to work to run the family.
Single mother parenting
Widows, divorced and separated women and never-married mothers form the category of mother only families. In the United States mothers are usually given the custody of the child in case of divorce due to the care and intimate and affectionate relationship they develop with their children.
The problems and challenges faced by ‘female-headed’ families are enormous. Alarmingly, in the US, 75% of mothers are seen to voluntarily give up custody of the child. Mothers give up the custody of their child due to various reasons including inadequate financial resources, child's preference for living with the father, difficulty in controlling the child, legal custody battle threats, physical and emotional constraints and turmoil suffered by the mother. However, almost 97% of non-custodial mothers are seen to actively maintain relationship with their children.
Managing single parenthood
The concept of single parenthood can be construed only as a stage of life rather than a life long family form. In fact, many single parents re-partner and form a new step family and are happy with it. Raising a child as a single parent mother is challenging and rewarding. Many happy healthy kids have been raised by single mothers. There are several instances of top actors, vocalists and Statesmen politicians who have been successful single parents as well.
A positive and responsible family member could be invited to spend time with the child. There are several established private groups which also can help single parents to conquer this problem.
True, it is a difficult situation as a single parent one does not find time to oneself. Concealing private emotions from the child and holding it close to one's chest is bound to take a heavy toll on the mother's health.
Never vent your negative feelings on the child. It is better to get help from family members or friends if the situation becomes stressful to the point that the single parent might hurt the child.
Single mothers suffer from poorer health than couple mothers. Combat health problems by making an effort to eat healthy foods and choosing methods to energizing the body. A brisk and active life creates positive energy and vibrations. A single mother can go for longer walks, even if she has to take the baby along with her in a stroller. Fresh air and exercise will provide added benefits.
Remember, a single parent is not alone. There are several others in the same situation who could share feelings and give/get advice. Join online community of single parents to share feelings and gain fresh ideas to mover forward in life.
Being honest with the children should bring a huge relief. Children can probably understand that the parent is angry and it should be better to tell them that one is angry and will get better soon.
Being present with the children both emotionally and physically is essential. This is the time when the child also needs the parent and involving in simple activities like a game of chess or a long walk together will go a long way in bringing peace to both the mother and the child.
Engage the child in an after school program or in summer camps which will help to combat the child's feelings of loneliness when the mother is at work.
It is absolutely critical to develop a support network. This may include family members and friends. Making an actual list of those people who can help remind one that she is not alone. And never be ashamed to ask another for help during critical circumstances.
Indulge and enjoy life with children. Focus on developing the child and remain a healthy, productive, compassionate and humorous adult. Hug the child and tell him/her how much the mother loves them. Remember that a single mother plays the role of both the parents which is the most difficult aspect in life.