(MayoClinic.com) If you're raising a child on your own, you're in good company. Single-parent families are more common than ever. Know how to manage some of the special challenges single parents experience and what you can do to raise a happy, healthy child.
Child rearing can be difficult under any circumstances. Without a partner, the stakes are even higher. As a single parent, you might have sole responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day child care. This can result in added pressure, stress and fatigue. If you're too tired or distracted to be emotionally supportive or consistently discipline your child, behavioral problems might arise. In addition, single-parent families generally have lower incomes and less access to health care. Juggling work and child care can be financially difficult and socially isolating. You might also worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model for your child.How can a single parent deal with these challenges?
To reduce stress in your single-parent family:
Many single-parent families are the result of divorce or separation. If this is the case in your family, talk to your child about the changes you're facing. Listen to your child's feelings and try to answer his or her questions honestly — avoiding unnecessary details or negativity about the other parent. Remind your child that he or she did nothing to cause the divorce or separation and that you'll always love him or her. A counselor might be able to help you and your child talk about problems, fears or concerns. Try to regularly communicate with your child's other parent about your child's care and well-being to help him or her adapt.How can a single parent handle dating?
If you're dating, consider the fact that your new romantic partner will have an impact on your child. Look for a partner who will treat both you and your child with respect. Consider waiting until you've established a solid relationship with someone before introducing him or her to your child. When you're ready to make the introduction, explain to your child some of your new partner's positive qualities. Don't expect your new partner and your child to become close immediately, however. Give them time to get to know each other and develop a relationship.How can a single parent address the lack of a male or female parental role model for a child?
If your child's other parent isn't involved in his or her life, you might worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model in your child's life. To send positive messages about the opposite sex:
Being a single parent can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By showing your love and respect, talking honestly and staying positive, you can lessen the stress of single parenting and help your child thrive.
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