Being a single parent is becoming more common, with the US Census Bureau estimating that there are around 12 million single-parent families. As relationships change and dissolve, many children are left with a lone parent.
If you’re a single parent yourself, you might be wondering about the impact of single parenting. That is if your single parent status will affect your child’s development. There’s no doubt that coming from a single-parent home does have some impact on children, but there’s no reason children of single parents can’t grow up happy and well adjusted.
The effects of single parenting on a child’s behavior can be both positive and negative. However, with the right approach, single parenthood can be a success and bear fruits and help in the overall development of emotional and social spheres of their life.
Let’s take a look at the impact of single parenting on your child’s development, and how you can best support them as they grow.
Poverty and its effects
So, how does single parenting affect a child?
One of the single-parent family problems is that they are more likely to struggle with poverty. Being the sole wage earner can cause a noticeable gap between your income and your two-income peers.
Poverty can be frightening and stressful for a single parent child, causing them to feel frustrated and angry at the difference between them and their classmates or friends.
If you’re struggling with financial issues, there are some things you can do to help. The first is learning to budget effectively and adopting an attitude of looking for the most cost-effective way to do things. The second is to focus on what you can give your child. Perhaps you can’t buy them the latest gadget, but you can foster a good relationship with them, and find fun things you can enjoy together for free.
The positive impact of single parenting does not necessarily depend on finances. At the same time, it’s not easy, but with the right attitude, you and your child can get through this.
Impact on academic achievement
Being from a single-parent family can have an impact on your child’s academic development. The stress of the separation between you and your partner and the resulting change to life and routine can cause issues. You might also find yourself working longer hours, with less time to dedicate to helping with homework.
To turn the single parent effects on child development into a positive impact, try to be as hands-on as possible when it comes to your child’s academic life. Keep in regular touch with their school and work with their teachers to solve issues and tackle any effects of being raised by a single parent before they occur.
Get involved with helping with homework, and if you don’t know about a subject, make it your business to learn – you and your child can learn and explore together. Find free resources for them online or at your local library to make learning more manageable and fun. One of the advantages of a single-parent family is that you get to spend a lot of time with your child.
Self esteem and confidence
Your child’s self-esteem and confidence might be another impact of single parenting and take a knock when you become a single-parent family. Children are quick to pick up on negativity and may blame themselves for the situation or your break up.
Be vigilant about your child’s emotional well being and self-esteem. Make time every day to talk with them about their day and listen to what they say. Always validate their feelings and work on communicating with them in a way that builds confidence and encourages them to confide in you.
Always encourage your child, and be quick to acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small. A simple “well done” or even a card or note reminding them that they’re doing great can make a big difference.
Relationship with their other parent
Your child’s relationship with their other parent might have negative effects of single parenting on a child. The child might suffer as a result of a separation. In some cases, the non-custodial parent can become somewhat distant. Your child may be left feeling abandoned or worried that they’ve done something wrong.
Do everything you can to foster a good relationship between your child and their other parent. You can help this along by sitting down with your ex and making decisions. Discuss how to handle schoolwork, vacations, visitation time, birthday and Christmas, and even little things like allowance or TV time.
The more you work together as a team, the more will be the positive effects of single parenting. You’ll be able to create a stable parenting environment for your kids. Seeing you both still working together to look after and support them will help them feel less adrift. The more security you can create, the better it will be for your child’s development.
Stress and anxiety
The stress and anxiety of separation can be an impact of single parenting, where everything from your child’s school achievements to how well they relate to their peers will take a toll on you. That’s why taking steps to reduce their stress and anxiety is vital.
If your separation was particularly acrimonious, your child would be exposed to a lot of negativity. Witnessing fights is upsetting for children, and so is hearing their parents speak badly about each other. Never criticize their other parent in front of them, and make sure any heated discussions take place out of earshot.
Since your child is growing up with a single parent, don’t lean on your child emotionally. This will cause them a lot of stress and can impact their emotional development. Build a strong support network of family and friends. You can talk to about financial, work, or other stresses, and leave your child out of it.
If your child is old enough to understand, explain to them the stress you’re suffering is not their fault. Reassure them that you love them and will always be there for them.
In this TEDx video, Austeja Landsbergiene, Ph.D., CEO, and founder of a private chain of pre-schools in Latvia and Lithuania, talks about effective parenting based on memories, not expectations.
Becoming the child of a single parent is a difficult transition. The impact of single parenting will make a mark on several areas of your child’s life. However, with love and commitment, you can get them through this challenging time and help them to bloom.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.