How Will I Ever Manage?
We got pregnant and now, just before she is to be born, we’ve split up! Many thoughts and feelings overwhelm me now. Concerns regarding finances, work and being a stable provider flood my mind. Will I be able to provide for our child and provide her with a variety of possibilities? I’m worried about parenting period so now what about “joint” parenting. How will we ever parent together? Can I work with… do I want to work with an “ex” that I couldn’t get along with and now don’t even like?
I don’t feel good enough to be this child’s parent, especially alone? Will I be nice to her… still holding onto the hurt and pain from this broken relationship? How do I even introduce this father to my baby if he does not want to be around? Is it okay if the father isn’t around?
Photo credit: click from morguefile.com
Scared and alone mothers-to-be have valid reasons to be afraid, and they are justified to have such concerns… even more. When a child is raised in a “lone-parent” family, there are increased risks threatening the child’s and family’s health and development. There are still other risk factors, common also in two-parent families, that are magnified in a single parent family. Research indicates clearly that two parent families have a protective quality, both reducing and preventing risks, thus, promoting healthier growth and development. The following research data is not for the faint of heart. Knowing the risks we face or may be facing can often help us take steps to address them and avoid or reduce their impact. Over twenty-five years ago, in the face of a tidal wave of propaganda promoting that a child raised with one parent is not concerning, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead courageously reported the following evidence-based statistics;
“According to a growing body of social-scientific evidence, children in families disrupted by divorce and out-of-wedlock birth do worse than children in intact families on several measures of well-being. Children in single-parent families are six times as likely to be poor. They are also likely to stay poor longer. Twenty-two percent of children in one-parent families will experience poverty during childhood for seven years or more, as compared with only two percent of children in two parent families. A 1988 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that children in single-parent families are two to three times as likely as children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral problems. They are also more likely to drop out of high school, to get pregnant as teenagers, to abuse drugs, and to be in trouble with the law. Compared with children in intact families, children from disrupted families are at a much higher risk for physical or sexual abuse.”
More recent reports support these findings, as follows:
Statistics show that children raised in healthy single parent homes have more problems emotionally and interpersonally, in school and with the law (Stevens, examiner.com, April, 2011).
Children from two-parent homes; specifically biological parent homes, typically exhibit more positive development outcomes than single-parent children (Thomas, Global Post, 2014).
Children [people] learn how to love from their parents, but if both parents are not there to teach them how to love, their love might be somewhat one-sided (White, Feb. 2011).
Lone parents, custodial parents, primary parents* may find these previous comments very defeating (*these terms tend to be more accurate to describe this family type than the age old “single parent” given that the other parent is quite often still involved to some degree, not to mention all the extended family supports which often include other parents). People rarely grow up intentionally planning to become separated, parenting mostly without the support and cooperation of the other parent. This is not how most of us grow up and expect our lives to turn out. So, given the new reality of separation, what needs to be done to improve our lives and the life of our child?
- Co-Parenting ASAP: Find the strength to make room for the other parent whenever possible and as appropriate.
- Assemble a Support Team: Whether grandparents, adult siblings, extended family and friends, it is important to decrease feelings of loneliness. This team is always there to support you and your child, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no reason to feel guilt or shame that you cannot manage on your own. This is the purpose of having a team.
- Readjust your priorities (and don’t forget to have fun): Know that you do not have to be rewarded as a superwoman who can do it all. It is okay to take breaks, drop previous tasks, say no to others, and decrease your work time. It is important to prioritize in such a way that you be healthy.
- Nurture and set goals for yourself: You have the opportunity to teach your child to create dreams and work for them to become a reality. Qualities of ambition, drive, work ethic, integrity, and responsibility go a long way towards positive development for children.
- Parent co-operatively: There are seasoned (grey hair suggested), experienced professional counsellors who can help the adults involved decrease animosity, set aside previous struggles and hurt in order to increase effective and positive co-parenting. Developing effective parenting agreements that include clear communication agreements and strategies will improve mental, physical and spiritual health for all involved… even and including extended family.
If you are a “lone parent” (either expecting or have a child(ren) already), there is a lot you can do to reduce the chance of your child becoming a negative statistic. First… Get help! Working alone reduces the likelihood of success. To develop a clear plan, with or without your co-parent, learning the necessary adjustments to promote a healthy and positive development in your child’s life call us today.