No one will ever say that being a parent is easy. It is not easy and nobody will deny that. But what parents do agree on is that being a single parent would be much harder. A single parent has to do the work of two people and hardly ever gets to take time away from their family to take care of themselves. Most families with a single parent are constantly struggling just to keep everything running smoothly. Keep reading to find out everything that single-parent families have to deal with every day.
What is a single-parent family?
What exactly is a single parent family? It is actually pretty simple. A single-parent family is a family that only has one adult taking care of the child or children. This could be a person who is divorced and never remarried, a person whose partner has passed away, a person who decided to adopt or do surrogacy, or it could be one parent who decided to have little to no presence in the kids' life so the other is the sole caregiver. If there is primarily one person taking care of the kid or kids, the family would be considered a single-parent family or household. There is only one adult in the household, the parent, that is taking care of the kids. If custody is split equally, or as equally as possible, then both parents would be considered single parents.
Single parent family statistics
The United States has a lot of single-parent families, and as of right now it seems like the number is only going to get larger. About 23% of children under the age of 18 live in a household with one parent. Pew Research Center This number is compared to statistics from around the world and is actually the highest one. There are several countries that come close to the United States’ number, the UK coming in at 21%, but it is still a very large percentage of single-family households. And this number is only projected to get higher in the coming years.
Who takes care of the kids?
You may be wondering who takes care of the kid or kids in single-parent families? Is it the mom or the dad? Well, the answer is both, but not together. For “traditional” families, there are two parents taking care of the kids, whether it’s a mom and dad, two moms, or two dads. However, in single-parent families, only one of the parents is primarily taking care of the kids. It can be a mother or a father, however, it is one or the other. If it is both parents then it’s not a single-parent family, it is just a normal, “traditional” family. If both parents are present in the child’s life but they have split custody then both would be considered single parents.
So a mom would be a single mom and a dad would be a single dad. Some people see a person who has custody of the kid or kids the majority of the time as the parent and does not think about the person who only has them for two days every other week as a parent. They may still call them mom or dad, but since they don’t see the kids that often and may not be making any big parenting decisions, many do not see them as parents. Of course, this will really depend on the custody situation and the reasons behind it.
Risk factors for single parents
Every choice that we make has a risk to it, whether it is a big risk or a small one. There are a lot of risk factors for single-parent families that people just are not aware of. Whenever you are raising a kid there are always going to be risk factors but when you are a single mom or dad that has to deal with everything on your own, these risks can have a very big impact on you and your family. Some common risks that can be seen among every single-parent household are:
- Job insecurity/financial support
- Stress and tiredness all the time
- Little to no personal time
- Household chores
- In some cases you need to survive financially
Single parents have to deal with taking care of their kid or kids while also supporting their families financially. If a kid is sick it can put the mother or father's job at risk because many jobs only allow for a certain amount of sick days. Also, if the kids are young and can not be home alone yet, it means that they can only work a certain amount of hours which can be hard to find or deal with paying for daycare.
Single parents are often stressed and tired all the time which can affect their work-life but really just means that they are struggling with their mental health. And between working, childcare, and cleaning, single parents have very little personal time so their mental health can become even worse since they may feel that they don’t have any time to properly treat it. They are also always dealing with childcare and maintaining the house, and sometimes they have to pick and choose. Spend some quality time with their kid or kids or make it so that their kids have a clean space to live in.
Risk factors for children
Living in a single-parent family can have a lasting impact on the child’s lifelong term. Even kids in a happy, stable single-parent household have risk factors that can impact their life, not just households that do struggle more. Research suggests that kids who have grown up in a single-parent family, whether it was with a mother or a father, can have some less than ideal things happen in their lives. For example, they tend to be more likely to drop out of school, and they have a higher chance of becoming a mom or dad when they are teenagers. Aurora University It can also affect them socially, making it harder for them to form lasting relationships and it makes them more likely to go through a divorce. These are just a couple of the many things that can impact children that grow up in single-parent families. Of course, this isn’t always true, many children who grew up in single-parent families don’t go through any of this at all. It just puts them at a higher risk of going through these things.
- A single-parent family is a family where only one parent or adult is taking care of the kids.
- About 23% of children under the age of 18 live in single-parent families.
- Single parents have to deal with everything that a normal family with kids deals with, but it’s all on one person.
- Children that grow up in single-parent families can struggle socially for their entire life.
How hard is it?
Being a parent is hard. If you aren’t a parent go ask your parents if it was hard. They will most likely say something along the lines of it not being a walk through the park. However, instead of everything being split between two people, all of the childcare, cleaning, and working, it is all on one person. One person has to take care of the child or children and make sure that they have a safe and clean place to live, cook all of the food, and work to make sure that their family is supported financially.
It’s especially hard when there are young kids involved because they need more supervision than older kids, and may even need to be put in daycare, which puts another expense on the mom or dad. Single parents are often constantly worried about money and making sure that their family has everything that they need. And they also get little to no alone time to take care of themselves or to pursue their hobbies. This all makes it safe to say that being a single parent is pretty hard.
What to expect
Many people, through various circumstances, don’t have a choice about becoming a single parent. On the other hand, quite a few people do choose to start a single-parent family. Whether you are being thrust into starting a single-parent family or starting one by choice, you probably have no idea what to expect. Unless you know people who are single parents and have talked to them about every little detail of what it’s like, you have no idea what your future looks like. So here are some of the basics.
First of all, a lot of single-parent families struggle financially. When kids are young, single parents tend to want to work jobs that will let them work the same hours that their child is in school which can make job hunts very restrictive. It also means that all of the bills, grocery shopping, and clothing shopping are on one persons income instead of two. There is also a constant juggling act going on at home. Do you spend quality time with your kid or kids or do you clean the house? You also have to deal with all of the child care on your own, and can even become thought of as the bad guy. This website Better Health Channel talks about this even more and even more things single parents have to deal with.
Rasing kids without a partner
As has been mentioned many times already, being a single parent is not easy. One of the big reasons that it is so hard is because single parents don’t have a partner. They don’t have someone bring another income into the household, they don’t have someone to help clean the house, to help take care of the kids, and they don’t have someone to help them. Getting help from friends and family members is, of course, helpful, but it’s not the same thing as having one person who is going through the parenting process with you.
There is nobody dealing with all of the ups and downs that will come with being a parent. Not having a partner can also feel very lonely. Single parents don’t have another person to share everything with at night and to talk things out with. Not having a partner also means that single parents don’t get a lot of time to themselves. They can’t pursue their hobbies or take a day away from the kids very often, if at all.
Single parents' mental health
In single-parent families, the parent doesn’t often get time to take care of themselves. They have so much stress in their lives and often feel alone in it all. This can lead to depression and anxiety, and given that they don’t have much time to take care of themselves already, many often struggle to get help for their mental health. Mental health also has a lot of stigma around it which many people don’t want to deal with since being a single parent has a lot of stigma around it as well. When you are already being heavily judged in one aspect of your life, it’s hard to let yourself be judged in another aspect of it.
In order for single-parent families to really be happy households for the kids, the parent needs to be healthy enough to ensure that it’s actually possible. Mental health is something that everyone will eventually struggle with in some way and is not something that you should be ashamed of. Single parents can ask their friends and family members to watch their kid or kids for even a few hours every other week to take time for themselves, whether they are seeking professional help or just taking a break for a little bit. Many people are usually happy to help, maybe even more people than you realize.