Parenting is tough, and it gets even tougher when you are a single parent and all the responsibilities are on you. However, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of single parenting can help you embrace the challenges and understand your role better.
While you may get anxious about meeting financial expenses on your own and the single impact parenting can have on your child, experiencing the love and warmth of your little one and raising them the way you want can be rewarding and wholesome.
In this post, we talk about the pros and cons of single parenting. Read on.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Single Parenting?
There is a good and bad side for almost anything that happens in life; parenting, or rather, single parenting has its ups and downs too. No matter what your circumstances or reasons, once you are a single parent, you should be prepared for the good and bad and handle it accordingly. Here are the advantages of being a single parent and as well disadvantages.
Advantages Of Single Parenting
You may have mostly thought that being a single parent can be a hard job, with too much to do, less time for yourself, no time to be out with friends and hardly any time to meet new people. All that stated, as a single parent, you do get to experience a lot of advantages too. Here are just some benefits of being a single parent that you should give yourself a pat on the back, and a smile on the face for:
1. You Make All The Parenting Decisions:
As a single parent, the entire authority of making the decisions will rest on you. While this may seem a little intimidating in the beginning, you will soon realize what a boon it is when it comes to taking all the decisions that will affect your children.
From the school your children will attend to the classes they will take, the type of food they eat, the friends they go out with, the places you visit, what you buy and where you buy, how you spend your weekends, what you do and do not do and other restrictions or freedom that your child will ever have will all come from you!
2. Managing The Finances:
As a single parent, you will also have the choice to decide how you spend your money on your children and you. You will always be in a better position to plan your finances and understand when you can splurge just a bit more and when you need to cut down. You will also be able to help your children understand finances and teach them to manage money better.
When you start planning your finances yourself, instead of going for a family income and expenditure account that you may have done while you were with your partner, you will realize that most decisions that you take, such as what type of home you will live in and where, will all be yours to make, which is quite a big thing but a great choice at the end of the day.
3. Your Children Will Be Super Responsible:
While being a single parent means that you will have to handle almost all the work by yourself, it also means that you will teach your children to learn to be responsible for their actions at a young age. Of course it is not humanly possible for you to do everything on your own, whether it is for you, for the home or your child.
Being a single parent will mean that you help your child be a team player and work together as a team, instead of making your child rely on you for every little thing. Your child will learn the importance of planning and handling his or her actions. When you want to do something for the house, such as get a new piece of furniture or even go grocery shopping, chances are you will always ask your child for their opinion. Not only will it make your child feel important, it will also instill a sense of responsibility that will come from participating in team work and everyday decision-making.
4. Undivided Attention:
As the child of a single parent, your little one will get all your undivided attention, without the worry of your love and attention getting divided between you and your spouse. As long as your child is with you, your entire love and attention will be towards your child. Similarly, whenever your child is with your ex, the entire love and attention of your ex will also be towards your child.
No matter how things stand between you and your ex, your child will always have the chance to experience all the love and care without any of the negativity that could otherwise seep in when you and your ex do not see eye to eye. As a single parent, you will also have enough time on your hands without having to worry about giving your time and dedication towards building another new relationship. Once you do decide to get into a relationship, your future partner will already know about the time division that you have, and you will also be in a better position to understand whether or not a future relationship will work out or not.
5. You’ll Not Be Dependent On Others:
While you were in a relationship with your ex, you most probably always tried to look at the relationship as a balancing act. From going out to work to working at home, to cooking or doing the dishes or doing the laundry, to managing your child’s homework to going for school meetings, there was always a list of things that you had to decide with your partner and see who would do what. It is possible that many times you got into an argument with your partner when you felt that you were always the one who had to do most of the work, or if your partner criticized you about your ways or asked you to do more. To make your relationship work, you most likely tried to iron out the differences and try and juggle more and more, which may have made you feel bitter and resentful towards each other.
As a single parent, the onus of parenting and managing the home is on you, but you will still be your boss. When you know that there is no one else in the house to take care of certain responsibilities but only you, you will make sure that you find a way of doing it yourself to the best of your abilities. In a positive light, you will no longer be dependent on your partner to help you with certain tasks in the house or outside. You will learn to manage your time and whether or not you have someone to help you, you will still be able to do it on your own.
Focusing on the positives could help you face your challenges well. Just like single mom and blogger Galit Birk does. She has been managing her duties towards her children and herself to the best of her abilities. And sometimes it may get overwhelming, she still manages to stay afloat. She says, “At the end of the day, I recharge, be it with friends or with a quiet night with myself. For the last three years, I have been a student, earning another Master’s degree while working full time and parenting, and now I am studying for the dreaded licensing exam, so at night — I often jump into student mode, too. As I said — it never ends. But it’s good — all good — mostly good — and I am grateful. Exhausted and grateful (i).”
Disadvantages Of Single Parenting
Of course, it is difficult, and that too when you are a single parent. From a family with two parents, you are now suddenly the one who will have to take care of your children and home, and, of course, it cannot be an easy transition. When it comes to parenting, nothing can be easy or without adventure. In the initial months and even years, you may feel that your life has taken a full-blown hit where you are not able to differentiate between the day or night, where you have no idea of what you are doing anymore, or who you are.
Being a single parent can be a hard job, with too much to do, less time for yourself, no time to be out with friends and hardly any time to meet new people. it is the only way of life you have now, so why not try and understand the disadvantages better, so that you can deal with them in the best possible way? Here are some of the disadvantages of a single parent family that you should give a thought to and plan in advance to see how you can best work with them:
1. Always Short On Money:
As a single parent, if you do not have a financial settlement with your ex over finances, the chances are that you will find yourself in the difficult spot of providing for the expenses. While you try to take care of the money situation, you could often find yourself juggling between jobs and trying to take on more than one job to help support your financial condition. It can not only lead to increased stress on your mind and health but can also take away a lot of your time and make it difficult for you to spend quality time with your children.
Spending all your time, attention, and energy on focusing on the finances can take a toll on you, leading to potential negative impact on the child’s development and also on the way you behave with them. Until you have a proper plan where you can balance the income and the expenditure, it can get difficult for you to concentrate on anything else. Try and involve your children in the budget planning to make it easier to manage money as well as to keep them in the loop. Also, they will know about your difficulty balancing work and parenting, which will make them more responsible.
2. Being Overloaded With Work:
While being a single parent will give you all the run of the house and you will be the only one who takes all the decisions related to your home and your children, it is also true that you will have an overload of things to look after. As you also have to take care of the finances, it means that you will spend a lot of time at work, more so if you are trying to do multiple jobs. Coming down in the financial status from a double income family to a single income family can be a big change for your children as well as you, and in your efforts to keep your children’s lifestyle same as earlier, you may be taking up too much load upon yourself.
If you are trying to make your money count, you probably will also try to avoid any additional expenditure, such as household help. What it also means is that even though you will be able to save on that money, the time you spend doing everything can get you overworked and irritated. Also, if your children are still too young, you may find yourself faced with a load of tasks that only you can take care of, and may not be able to delegate the same to your children.
3. Feeling Lonely:
Getting out of a relationship with your ex may or may not make you want to get into another relationship yet, but it does not mean that you will not get lonely. Whether or not you have an amicable relationship with your ex, you will still be alone at the end of the day, and even though you will have your children with you, you may crave some adult company, even if just for the sake of some end of the day grown up conversation.
Even if you may not be looking for any intimate company yet, you may feel that you are the only partner who is left to take care of everything, while your partner has conveniently taken the easy way out. Also, as you are the main and maybe only caregiver to your children, you will rarely have the time or the opportunity to go out and socialize with other like-minded individuals. Not meeting other people and not being able to spend time with friends can also make you feel extremely lonely and lead to social isolation. This will also mean that you’ll get limited time for self-care.
4. Disciplining Your Children Can Be A Problem:
Often, even as you face the repercussions or loss of your relationship, your child too will have trouble adjusting to the new status of being the child of a single parent. While you may be trying to do everything to make your child comfortable and feel safe and loved, there are moments that your child will feel abandoned or unloved, and may react in a rebellious or aggressive way. Such a situation can make it especially difficult for you to set boundaries for your child and discipline them.
Children can also be very smart at emotionally manipulating parents. If your child is experiencing feelings of loneliness and is upset or sad, you may have trouble disciplining, as well as following up on any rules that you may have set previously. It is also possible that if your child frequently meets your ex and you and your ex do not have the same values of discipline, there can be a conflict of thought that can make your child feel confused about what to follow and what to listen to.
5. Negativity In Your Child:
Every child is different, and the way your child may react to your single parent status may not be what you had anticipated earlier. It is important for you to remember that your child will find the sudden change very disturbing and confusing, and there may be many instances when your child actually blames you for any of the problems that have surfaced in your relationship with your ex. It is also possible that your child resents you for some time, blaming you for being selfish and for breaking up a relationship and a home that your child felt was perfect.
Your child’s initial reaction can sometimes continue for a long period, and can also turn into a serious behavioral issue. The change in parenting status is a difficult change for your child to accept, and even your best attempts at trying to make your child understand can sometimes backfire.
Single parenting may be difficult, but you are not alone. Research from the US Census Bureau has shown that the number of children living with a single parent has increased since the 1970s.
In 2012, the highest number of children living with a single parent was recorded at 20,915, with 17,991 living with their mothers and 2,924 with their fathers. While the numbers gradually decreased after the peak, there was another increase in 2016. In 2022, the total number of children living with a single parent was 19,224.
Number of US children living with a single parent (1970 to 2022)Source: Number of children living with a single mother or a single father in the U.S. from 1970 to 2022; US Census Bureau
Strengths Of Single Parenting
An ideal family setup for a child involves both the mother and father. Children of single parents miss that setup. However, that is compensated with certain strengths of single parenting. As the parent is solely responsible for the well-being of the children, they tend to focus more on the child, to make sure that there is no void in their parenting. Below, we list some of the greatest strengths of single parenting.
1. Children understand their responsibility:
Single parents look up to their children for help and cooperation and in most cases when they experience lack of support. One of the best positives about single parenting is that the children get a stronger sense of responsibility, and they try their best to do things right. It gives them independence and flexibility while taking away the burden of single parenting.
2. Post-divorce stress eases out:
A family that goes through divorce experiences severe stress and tension at home. The phase after that — single parenting — brings in some much-needed calm and peace. There is a reduction in hostility. Children, who are generally put on the back burner due to the divorce, become important again and can focus better on personal growth. The phase after the divorce is more nurturing and loving.
3. Children are cautious about partners:
Often, children in single-parent families are cautious in choosing their partners. As they have seen their parents struggle, they understand the importance of having compatibility with the partner at various levels. Not just that, once they are in a relationship, they value that bonding and give their best to it. At the same time, they are also mentally prepared to deal with any break-ups or unpleasant experiences in the relationship.
4. Parents and children share a friendship:
Children who grow up with single parents are often empathetic towards them. They understand that their single parents would need their companionship at home and this in turn will lead to increased empathy. This brings them close to their parents, paving way for a strong bond of friendship. They depend on one another, become supportive, and form a closer bond with each other.
5. Parents devote more time towards children:
As the parent and children work together, and the parent involves themselves in the child’s education and other activities, they tend to spend more time with each other. The children and parents take care of the home and indulge in chores together, or go out for a movie. It can lead to a healthy relationship between them. The single parent also gets firm control over parenting decisions.
How Can You Help Your Child And Yourself With The Single Parent Status?
Becoming a single parent will be a hard choice and change for you as well as for your child. Juggling through so many emotions can be difficult for you, and when you have to take care of your child’s emotions as well, it can almost always seem like an impossibly difficult job. However, you can minimize the pain and damage it causes to both you and your child by taking some baby steps to help prepare you both for the change. Here are a few tips that can help you connect better with your child and also help you adapt better to your single parent status:
Irrespective of time crunch or financial strains, make it a point to form a stronger bond with your child. Even though it can sometimes be emotionally overwhelming to sit and explain everything to your child, make sure that you address all queries that your child may have, as it will help your child understand you better.
If you are busy through the week and are not able to give as much quality time to your child as you would otherwise want to, make sure you set up a dedicated number of hours for each weekend that you will spend exclusively with your child. You need to have better communication skills for your children. Plan fun activities for your child that both of you can take part in together. The activities do not have to involve spending money. Instead, you can plan lots of fun and interesting activities depending on your child’s age and interest. For example, both you and your child can spend a day in the kitchen doing simple yet super fun things such as kneading dough, beating eggs, making a batter for a cake, baking a cake, chopping and dicing vegetables under your supervision and many more such fun yet simple tasks in the kitchen. You can also try and make the weekends a special day to hit the beach or go to the park. Make sure that when you are there with your child, you plan it in such a way that you are not distracted by anything else.
Do not give up hope about yourself or about your future in terms of companionship or relationship. Give yourself some time to settle down as a newly single parent, where you can understand your child’s and your needs better. Once you have established a routine and your child seems a little bit more settled in the new life, you can start looking for people who have similar interests as you. If you are interested in books or theater, you can join a club or take up a new hobby course. If your time and finances permit, you can also take a quick weekend getaway with friends, where you will have the chance to meet new people or just be by yourself and clear your thoughts. Make sure that you first speak to your ex and make arrangements for your children to be taken care of before making any plans for yourself.
Watch out for signs of anger, confusion or distress in your child. As a single parent, you already have your hands full, and you are already doing all you can for your child. However, it is also very important for you to constantly keep a watch on your child’s mood and behavior. The initial few months are crucial for your child to adjust to the new setting. If your child is sensitive and emotional, it can be even harder to adjust. Be there for your child as a parent, as a confidante and as a friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the causes of single parenting?
Some of the causes of single parenting may be divorce, death of the spouse, forced marriages, teenage pregnancy, and separation of partners.
2. What are the four types of single parents?
The four types of single parents are:
- Divorced parents
- Widowed parents
- Unmarried parents who separated
- Single parents by choice
3. Are single mothers happier than married mothers?
A 2011 study shows that single mothers are not as happy as non-single mothers. However, the number of single mothers who claimed to be unhappy reduced between 1972 and 2008. The change in the happiness quotient may be because of social welfare programs, reduced social stigma, and compositional changes in single motherhood (1).
There is no denying that they are advantages and disadvantages of being a single parent. While you are the source of all the love for your child and vice versa, you may also feel stressed while playing the role of two as you try to fulfill the place of a role model for the opposite gender. However, focusing on the positives could help you face your challenges well. Try to accept the circumstances and understand that you are doing your best. Although it might be challenging to lead the life of a single parent initially, you will be able to come up with better strategies eventually. However, if the situation seems overwhelming, do not hesitate to seek the help of a professional.
Infographic: Advantages And Disadvantages Of Single Parenting
Raising a child can be a tedious task. But, while being a single parent comes with challenges, it also has its own set of advantages. So, give the following infographic a read to learn about the pros and cons of single parenthood better. Share it with other single parents too!
- Single parenting offers independence and decision-making authority, and is a rewarding experience.
- Children of single parents learn independence, responsibility, and receive undivided love and attention.
- Financial insecurity, work overload, and loneliness can create stress for single parents, and disciplining children can become difficult.
- Single parents and children develop close bonds from spending time together.
- Children of single parents learn from their parent’s struggles, and may be more cautious when choosing a partner.
Personal Experience: Source
i. A day in the life of a working single mom.
- John Ifcher and Homa Zarghamee; (2011); Trends in the Happiness of Single Mothers: Evidence from the General Social Survey.