Problems of Parenting Alone
Many of the problems that single parents have are the same as
those for two-parent families. But these problems may seem more
difficult to bear or manage when the parent is alone. For
example, all children feel some hostility toward their parents as
they try to be independent. But when the anger and rebellion are
all directed to one person, it may seem worse if there's only one
to bear it, not two to share it.
There are some special problems that single parents have which
make it difficult to raise children. These include bitterness
toward the absent parent, loneliness, poverty, and insecurity
about raising children without help. For these and other reasons,
single parents sometimes cling to their children or overindulge
them. The children may not get chances to be with other adults or
other children as much as they need to.
Despite the problems of single parenting, a one-parent family
can be good for a child if certain conditions are met. Most
important, the child needs to feel loved -both by the parent at
home and by the absent parent.
The Absent Parent
If your former spouse desires to be with the children, you
should generally encourage such opportunities, even if you have
negative feelings about your former partner. Moreover, you must
allow your children to respect and love the other parent. It is
important not to belittle or continually battle with the other
parent. The absent parent can be given credit for the good things
he or she has done.
Beware of resenting or condemning your children because they
remind you of their other parent.
Role Models for Children
Children need role models to pattern after. Single parents
cannot be both mother and father, but they can find other adults
to serve as role models. The models show children how to become
adult men or women. Allow your child to get to know adults of
both sexes whom you like and admire. Relatives, neighbors,
friends, and teachers can set examples for children about male
and female behavior.
In addition to knowing and spending time with other men and
women, children need to see good male-female relationships. They
need to see how men and women get along together as friends or
marriage partners. Give your child opportunities to spend time
with married or other committed couples, perhaps relatives or
Examine Your Attitudes
Your attitude about the opposite sex is important, too. For
example, if a mother is bitter towards men, her son may be
reluctant to reach out to other males as role models and her
daughter may learn to hate or fear men. A father's attitudes
toward women or towards other men can have a lasting effect on
his son's or daughter's attitudes.
Whether you are single or with a partner, your own sense of
self-worth and confidence are essential if you are to be a good
parent. A good parent is emotionally stable. If your are
divorced, strive to overcome bitterness and try to keep a
wholesome relationship with your child's other parent. Examine
your motives for doing things to see if they stem from self-pity,
jealousy, blaming, or getting even. If they do, you may have to
change your attitudes so that you and your children will have a
good home and a successful life.
It's difficult being a single parent in a society like ours,
oriented towards two-parent families. Yet every day there are
more single-parent families because of death, divorce,
separation, adoptions by single people, and births to unmarried
Ronald L. Pitzer, Extension Family Life Specialist
Phone (612) 626-1212
Date: Friday, June 14, 1996 10:55 AM
Submitted by: Ronald L. Pitzer *
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