Single parenthood is no walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be a torturous stroll, either. As of 2016, the United States Census Bureau estimates that there are approximately 13.6 million single parents raising over 22 million children each and every day. So while you might feel like single parenthood is an insurmountable task, it’s not one you have to face alone.
In fact, one of the best ways to ensure you and your kids not only survive, but thrive, in the task of single parenthood is to enlist the help of those around you: your family, your friends and support network and your community as a whole.
Co-Parenting Is Invaluable
If you and your former partner separated on amicable terms, it’s in your child’s best interests to maintain a good relationship with them. Even if you and your ex aren’t buddies, the other party is still your child’s parent and, barring issues that would cause your child harm (such as drug use or physical abuse), it’s up to you two to make sure your child maintains good relationships by learning to co-parent.
Co-parenting is a newer buzzword for something divorced couples have been doing for ages: figuring out how to raise your children together while still leading separate lives.
If things are rocky with your former significant other or you know you two will never see eye-to-eye, reach out to a neutral mediator to help forge a co-parenting arrangement you can both live with.
Enlisting Family and Friends
Family is often an endless resource: they’ll be there for you when no one else will. If you’re lucky to have a good relationship with your family members and they live nearby, bring them on board to help you raise your kids. When a family member offers to help, take them up on it, whether the offer extends to caring for your child while you work, babysitting for a much needed night out or taking the kids shopping for clothing or school supplies.
If you’re not on good terms with your family or they’re geographically distant, look to your circle of friends to fill in the gaps. Trusted friends can become your support network and perhaps even an extended branch of your newly single-parent family. Again, if help is offered, take it.
Alert Your Child’s School
Your child’s school needs to be kept up to speed with what’s going on in their family life. Divorce is hard on everyone, and if your child isn’t coping well, their grades may suffer. Speak to your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to let them know what’s going on at home. The people who interact with your child everyday in an academic setting can talk to them and offer some much-needed support. They may also be able to steer you in the right direction to find resources and help that makes single parenthood a little bit easier.
You’ll also need to update your children’s emergency contacts. If you’re in a situation where the other parent isn’t allowed to see the child, for example, the school should also be aware of this so they can take proper safety precautions or if you or both of you have okayed for someone else to be allowed to assist with pick up and drop offs the school should be updated.
Tap Into Community Resources
There are a number of community resources available to single parents to help care for and raise children. Your local department of human services or office of children and family services can steer you in the right direction by providing you with a list of resources to peruse. These resources may range from support groups for single parents to low cost childcare providers, early intervention specialists or even social supports for your child such as programs like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Beyond the resources offered by social services, you can also seek help and guidance from those in your work or leisure activity circles. If you’re a member of a religious organization, for example, you may find that there are fun events held for families where you can meet and engage with other single parents and see how they manage it.
If your work holds regular outings or events for families, consider attending one or two to see if it feels right for you and your kids — you may make some unexpected connections and learn the tips and tricks of making it work from single parents who have been successfully raising their kids by themselves.
Surviving Single Parenthood
Parenthood on its own is one of the hardest, most thankless, heartbreaking jobs you’ll ever encounter. When you’re parenting your kids without a spouse or partner present in your home, the heartbreak and frustration multiplies, but so does the joy and happiness when things are going well.
Look to those around you for tips, tricks and lessons in how to successfully navigate the world of single parenthood. Lean on family, friends and your social circles to raise your kids to be the best they can be, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help from social service agencies or other professionals: that’s why they’re there.
It takes a village sometimes to get your life back on track after a divorce. Don’t be afraid to turn to your friends, family or even your family law attorney for advice. Here at Rodríguez Family Law, we’ve helped lots of people navigate the road from marriage to single parenthood. Give us a call today to find out what you need to move on and start your new life. Our phone number is 862-241-1228 or you can send us an email. We’re here to help.