Children of single parents need more attention and care than those in two-parent households to help them adjust and understand the world. Single parents are often reluctant to ask for help, afraid that it will show weakness or an inability to cope. However, it is often the smartest and most efficient solution. Family and friends of single parent homes can help with tasks like babysitting, picking up children from school or nursery, looking after children when errands have to be run, or helping with homework. Affordable child play groups or after-school care centers are also options that should be considered when deciding on a new routine for a single parent household.
A common problem faced by single parent households is a lack of a role model for children. While most children grow up observing the interaction between two parents and learning about healthy social responsibilities or relationships, single parent families need to be creative about this. Trusted relatives and close family friends often offer a chance for children to observe and learn through interaction.
Single Parent Families – Creating a Work-Life Balance
While a job can suddenly become critical when there is only one income to support the home, single parents will have to deal with increased demands and less time for themselves. Creating a more appropriate work-life balance involves some restructuring of professional lives for working parents.
- Talk to your current employer about working more flexible hours so that you can be there for your children when they are home from school. If it means finding a job that allows you this freedom, it might be worthwhile considering shifting to a new workplace. Volunteering for childcare at a center often solves both the problem of employment and of spending time with your child.
- On weekends, make sure to plan activities that allow for some quality time together. In addition to providing fun and distraction, activities are a good time to talk to children in a relaxed atmosphere about problems or issues.
- Explore options to earn and stay home if your job allows it. Telecommuting or working from home for your office is allowed by many offices now. Alternatively, setting up a home-based business or working freelance are also ideas that can be considered.
Emotional Support for Single Parents and Children
Single parent families are often closer knit because of a sense of camaraderie, or a feeling of us-against-all-problems between parents and children. Single parents often find it helps to treat their family as a team, whether there is one child or four. This provides a structure for the family to rely upon, and offers a chance at delegating responsibilities and choosing ‘leaders’ – concepts that children learn from an early age in the playground.
In the midst of worrying about their children and their jobs, single parents should set aside some time for themselves. Meditation, yoga, morning jogs, long baths, or just some alone time at home while the kids are being looked after by family or friends – anything that helps single parents to unwind and relax will help.
Being a single parent doesn’t have to be lonely. Support groups and single parent meetings offer a chance to socialize with other parents who are in similar situations. These groups may also offer services like baby-sitting, playgroups or outings for children. Dating is another option to explore, and once single parents feel ready, these groups provide chances to meet other people who understand the restrictions and joys of single parenthood.