According to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there are around 949,000 single-parent families in the country, of which 65% had dependents living with them.
Single parent families are on the rise worldwide, due to a number of reasons. There are many advantages and disadvantages that single-parent families experience.
THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF BEING A SINGLE PARENT
THE BENEFITS THAT SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES FACE
Being a single parent is difficult, but it also has many benefits, some which might shock and surprise you. So, don’t get bogged down with the negatives and think about the positives the next time you think about the beautiful journey of parenting.
MAKE YOUR OWN RULES
The best part about being a single parent is that you get to make your own rules. You don’t need to spend time debating how best to do something, you can just go ahead and decide what you want to do.
Making your own rules saves time and stress because you don’t need to argue with your partner about how best to look after your child, or if they can go to a sleepover at their friends.
Although at first, this might feel intimidating and like you are taking on a whole lot of responsibility, you’ll get used to it. You are your own boss and that feeling is very empowering.
BECOME MORE INDEPENDENT
As a single parent you don’t depend on anyone else. You are free to do what you want and what you feel is best for your family. Becoming more independent has a number of benefits, for one it will allow you to look after yourself and your family better.
Research has shown that becoming more independent can also increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. Which means that you will make better relationships and connections with others. Increased self-esteem can also make you feel happier and healthier.
MANAGE YOUR OWN FINANCES
As a single mum, you will be able to manage your own finances. Managing your own finances means that you are able to spend money on the things you really want and need. It also means you are able to save money for what you want, i.e. nice family holidays, or money for your children’s futures.
Keep track of your finances and remember to teach your children about how to look after money. A great way to do this is by giving them pocket money in exchange for household chores.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN VALUES
Speaking of teaching your children, being a single parent can be beneficial for them because they will get to experience first-hand what it means to be more responsible.
Children are very observant and will see that their mum is responsible for a lot of things in their life (things that they will become very grateful of). Your child will learn how to work as a team, in your family unit, and will be able to apply this to their later life.
Single parents can also teach their children other life lessons, values, and beliefs that will become invaluable to them as they grow up.
THE CHALLENGES SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES FACE
Whilst it is true that there is nothing as rewarding as parenting, it is also true that there is nothing that is quite as difficult as parenting, especially if you are doing it alone.
Challenges of being a single parent can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Here are a few challenges that you can expect, or might already be experiencing, and the ways in which you can deal with them.
Feelings of loneliness can creep in unexpectedly and can burden you, especially if you are a single parent. You don’t have a lot of time to yourself because raising children is a full-time job in itself and then you have all the other requirements, such as working to bring in money to look after your family.
Dating might be the last thing on your mind when your head hits the pillow after a long day. Or dating might always be on your mind, but you simply don’t have the time to commit to someone. You also might find it difficult to make time to spend with your friends because of family commitments, which can lead you to feel very lonely. The company of your child, or children, is great, but you can still experience feelings of loneliness because you want some adult company.
How to overcome this challenge: Try making more time for the things you want to do i.e. allocate an hour or two away from the kids that you can have with your friends. Or join a parent support group, these groups are a great way to meet new people and converse with other mum’s and dad’s about parenting.
FINANCIAL PROBLEMS OF BEING A SINGLE PARENT
Financial problems can be a large source of stress, especially for single parents. It can be very difficult to balance a full-time career and a full-time family. If you are the only source of income for your family, i.e. your child’s father isn’t paying child support, then money might be tight.
Many studies have shown that single parents have a particularly hard time creating enough income for their families. One study in particular, found that single parents in Australia are $271 per fortnight worse off.
How to overcome this challenge: Do your research and make sure you are receiving any financial support that you are entitled to. You can also use a number of apps and budgeting tools that can help you track what you are spending and work out how you can save money.
JUGGLING WORK AND HOME LIFE
Single parents often feel exhausted due to trying to juggle their work and home life.
Before work, you can expect to run around like a headless chicken, trying to sort the children out for school and doing household chores. Then you go to work, which can be mentally and/or physically exhausting (depending on what you do). After work, there’s a mad rush to get the kids, make dinner, and put them to bed. Yes, it is exhausting juggling both work and home life. Doing all of this by yourself essentially makes you a super-mum!
A spokesperson from Parentscorner said, “Single parents struggle to strike an important balance between work, home, and finding time for themselves. It is important to work out routines that allow you to make the most of your time and remain healthy and happy.”
How to overcome this challenge: Find a balance that works for you and your children. If your children are old enough get them to help out around the house. Make sure you set aside an allocated amount of time each day or night, so you can relax and free your mind from the stress of the day.
DISCIPLINING YOUR CHILD
For single parents, it can be difficult to discipline your child, especially if you aren’t used to doing this (i.e. you let your partner previously discipline your child). Nobody likes to discipline their child, but sometimes their behaviour needs to be addressed so they can understand that they shouldn’t be doing or saying certain things. Children sometimes manipulate their parents into not disciplining them, especially if they are experiencing difficulties (like the split of their parents).
How to overcome this: Always offer an open communication policy between you and your child and let them know that they can talk to you if something is bothering them. Also, set boundaries and clear expectations for your child to follow. Then if they misbehave, make sure you use clear and concise communication, with a relevant punishment. For example, if they misbehave at school explain that what they did was wrong and give ground them for a week, or make them do more chores around the house.
MAKE BEING A SINGLE PARENT WORK FOR YOU
Whilst many people think that single parenting is difficult, it can be very rewarding and thus, a worthwhile journey.
Challenges will come your way, but it is all about keeping a strong head on your shoulders and working out how to overcome the challenges. For example, for the challenge of looking after yourself, you can implement routines so that you can balance your time better, or you commit to setting aside half an hour each day just for you.
Like anything else in life, single parenting is what you make of it and you need to find effective ways to make it work for you and your family.