Single parenthood in the United States is close to being commonplace. In fact, the percentage is about “three in ten children living in a single parent home.” The most predominant kind of single parenthood typically involves a single mother. And yet single fatherhood is not lagging to far behind as it becomes more common in the country. The growth in this setup is around 60% in the last decade. This is attributed to the court’s assessment of the man’s capability of supporting the child financially (Wikipedia, online).
The sense of loss in losing a significant other may not only cause emotional turmoil, but may have substantial financial implications as well. Logically, there is marked increase in the costs of sustaining the household. It is not unconventional to find children of single parent suffering from delinquency or to other difficult issues brought about by the difficulty in adjusting to the separation of parents (Wikipedia, online).
The scenario gets even worse when the situation of African American single fathers is considered. There has been a notable trend indicating that there is an increasing the number of non-resident or absentee black fathers, particularly those in their teens. This phenomenon is attributed to the factors such as divorce, cohabitation, and premarital conceptions among this group (Danziger & Radin, 1990). And yet there have been several empirical researches that suggest that the being a non-resident father does not necessarily translate to the incapacity to be engaged with bringing up the child. And yet, black non-resident fathers even have more frequent visits to their children and are more strongly involved in their children’s caring tasks and have a higher probability of providing support (Wattenberg, 1993).
It may also be noted that the percentage of African American single father is higher than their White single father counterparts. Moreover, it has been noted that there is a marked preponderance of empirical research that has focused more on the experience of white single fathers than African American single dads (Greif, 1990).
It is implicitly assumed that the families headed by single parents are beyond the norm and at times even perceived as “deviant”. It is not commonly accepted as an option to the conventional two-parent family form (Glick & Norton, 1973). This perspective does have its critics. And yet, there has been growing evidence that the conventional family form does result in more adaptive, socialized and cognitively adequate children compared to those who belong to families of single parents (Brandwein, R. A., Brown, & Fox, 1974).
There have been efforts at empirically recording the repercussions of single parenting on their children’s social dealings, including their development on the cognitive and social facets (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1975). Compared to those who belong to two-parent families, Hetherington et al (1975) assert that after separation of parents through divorce, children have a higher probability of being disorganized with their normal routines. Their normal routines, activities, and schedules have higher probability of being in disarray. In addition, the parent-child interaction tends to diminish in terms of quality. On the part of single parents, they are more likely to make demands on being mature, to articulate what they want and to exercise constancy in disciplining the child.
For the single parent to be successful, he must exhibit willingness in seeking support. The acknowledgement and acceptance that one needs help is the first step in learning and of going through the process effectually. One other indicator of such openness is to be able to articulate one’s emotions. The presence of friends and significant others will expedite the adjustment process. Counseling or therapy may also be helpful. In the process of coping, there ought to be no rush for the single parent. Everything ought to be taken one step and one day at a time. Taking issues in stride and taking it in bite-sized pieces is helpful and shall facilitate the coping process. Further, there are various sources from whom the single parent may ask for assistance. Keeping oneself busy is also a requisite to faster recovery, both for the single parent and for his or her child – lethargy shall only make things worse. In confronting single parenthood, the individual must be able to recognize and leverage on his strengths and see things with optimism (Wolf, 2006).
Coping for Single Parents
Wolf (2006) suggests that encountering a crisis such as divorce may make the involved parent feel a strong sense of inadequacy or lack of control. It involves the grief of losing a much treasured relationship, and yet one must be able to stand up to the challenge for the welfare of one’s child. Single parenthood necessitates a firm resolve from the single parent; that is, the resolve of addressing the problem upfront and to survive amidst adversity.
Acknowledging the difficulty of single parenthood, Walker (2002) provides several tips for single mothers. First, she shares that the single mom should be very candid with her children, and be able to address the queries raised by them. The children should also be made aware that they are loved by both parents despite the separation. Single mothers should also establish support networks to be able to alleviate the burdens posed by their condition. This entails holding the other parent accountable for child raring – for both financial and emotional facets of upbringing. The single parent ought to endeavor to form support groups from similar others. There should also be amiable relations maintained with the other parent despite the separation. Children should also be constantly reminded of the other parent, and they should be accustomed to opposite sex role models to make up for the other parent’s absence. Walker (2002) further cautions the single parent from entering into another romantic relationship and to prioritize the needs of the child instead. Finally, the single parent must concentrate on maximizing his or her full potentials despite single-hood.
Financial Management for Single Parents
Brown (2001) emphasizes the importance of financial management for single parents. She first advises that the single parent should be able to allot adequate funds for supporting the child’s schooling. It may be beneficial to make the investment in your child’s name since this will make the taxation relatively more cost-efficient. However, one setback may be experienced in cases when the child seeks for financial assistance. One viable option for the single parent would be college savings plans. One other important piece of advice for single parents is for them to have sufficient savings for their retirement as well as in a contingency account for unforeseen or unanticipated events. The criticality of clear documentation is also pointed out, whether for the parent with shared or exclusive customer to protect the financial interest of the child. Brown (200) further advises that the single parent have life insurance placed in a living trust to guarantee proceeds to the child upon death (Brown, 2001).
Single parenthood is not exactly the easiest situation to be in – in fact, it is an ordeal that must be maturely dealt with by the parent involved. Not only should the parent be on the look out for his or her own welfare, but more importantly, for the well-being of the child. While it may be a herculean task to race a child on one’s own gracefully, it is nonetheless possible.