Single parents enjoy more freedom and control
Single parents may not have the flexibility to run out to the supermarket for ice cream at midnight, nor can they expect a back rub at the end of a long day; but they enjoy the freedom of not having to report to anyone. Married couples may have all the benefits of partnership, including two incomes and some help with the housework, but singles enjoy the ultimate freedom: choosing how their money will be spent. This means deciding where the family will go on vacation, which furniture to buy and which vegetables to serve at dinner. Children who grow up in single-parent households gain independence and self-reliance faster than any other kids in their peer group, and they grow up with realistic expectations about adult life instead of living inside a “bubble.”
As someone who has been raising two daughters on my own for the past 12 years, I’m always happy to hear all the accolades from family members, coworkers and married friends. “I don’t know how you do it,” they often say. It gives me that inflated, chest-thumping sense of self that is often missing from a single parent’s experience. I’m not saying it’s been easy raising the girls on my own, but there is something nice about the amount of control I get to have as a parent. To be honest, I’m not sure how readily I would give that up if the right guy came along.
Faith-based community support
It may not be included on the list of advantages to single parenthood, but I know that I couldn’t have such a positive outlook if it weren’t for my faith in God and the bonds I’ve formed at my church. The youth group has been an amazing source of encouragement for my daughters as they’ve grown up, and there are many wonderful couples that have served as role models for their future relationships. I am now involved in several ministries, including Women on Their Own (WOTO), community outreach and serving as a barista at the café on Wednesday nights. The church has become my most important place to meet new friends, compare notes with other parents, and gain strength for daily living.
Discipline and Competitiveness
Children from single parent households may not realize it, but they spend a lot of time competing with one another for the attention of their custodial parent. One might point out the other’s flaws and try to influence their parent’s perception of them as the “good child,” while the other might try to play the role of the victim claiming you favor the other one. Girls are particularly good at this type of manipulation and they tend to negotiate more when there is only one parent.
If you’re not a natural disciplinarian it may be hard to resist engaging in negotiations about everything, but take it from me – the kids need to know who is boss. Children are very good at pushing their parent’s buttons, especially when there is no other parent to intervene. When it’s time to discipline, this may mean keeping a straight face and resisting the temptation to give reasons for your decision. In other words, you need to know when it’s time to switch from the good cop to the bad cop - without feeling that single parent guilt.
Fewer People to Care For
As someone who once had to care for a husband and children, I can honestly say that there is very little distinction between the two. Not to say that there aren’t men out there who do their share of the cooking and cleaning, but husbands make some basic demands on their wives’ time and energy. At least as a single mom I’m only worried about myself and the children. Another side benefit of this is how much more time I have for the kids. Single parents aren’t distracted by long discussions with their husband and rarely feel the need to leave the kids at home with a babysitter. And they’re less likely to hear conflicting opinions on what is in the child’s best interest. If your divorce was particularly contentious, the kids might be secretly relieved to leave the conflict behind.
Image courtesy by Ben Earwicker /http://sxc.hu