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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Cox

Navigating Stressors in Single-Parent Families: Understanding Challenges and Building Resilience


Single Parent

Unique Dynamics and Common Stressors in Single-Parent Households

Single-parent families face different challenges than two-parent households. Single-parent homes may look different than commonly a single mom or dad raising his or her child. Some single-parent households are lead by a grandparent or even an older sibling (apa.org, 2023).

Even though single-parent households are common, many stressors come with raising children as a single parent. Single parents often feel alone as they deal with many responsibilities alone. Between working, paying bills, taking children to extra-curricular activities, and household responsibilities, it is not uncommon for them to feel overwhelmed (apa.org, 2023).


Financial Challenges in Single-Parent Homes


Financial struggles are another reality of single-parent homes that may lead to frequent moves, loss of social support, and longer work hours. While most single mothers have child support agreements, single fathers often do not. However, single fathers usually recover more quickly financially (Chavda and Nisagra, 2023).



parenting and stress

Interpersonal Struggles and Relationship Dynamics


Other stressors may include problems that arise with visitation, sharing custody, and ongoing conflict with the other parent. Parent-child relationships may also change as the child may spend less time with one parent and adjust to the other parent playing a more prominent role. Disruption in extended family relationships may also lead to additional stress and tension as the family adjusts to navigating these relationships. Another considerable stressor is the struggles that begin when one or both parents meet another partner who becomes involved in the child’s life (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2023). 



Discipline Challenges in Single-Parenting


Discipline is yet another source of stress as single parents feel overwhelmed and may find it difficult to instill rules and limits. Also, when children visit two homes, each parent may have different parenting styles that can not only be confusing for the child but also create increased difficulty in enforcing limits and making one parent feel or look like the “bad guy.” 



stess and children

Challenges Faced by Children in Single-Parent Homes


Like parents, children in single-parent homes also face challenges. For instance, they may not understand why the family has changed and become angry toward one or both parents. They may also experience feelings of grief and mourn the loss of their parent, guardian, and family as they remember. Additionally, as parents adjust to single parenthood, the child may experience difficulty adapting to a new or different routine due to changes in income, status, and schedules (Medicinenet.com, n.d.).



Impact on Education and Social Relationships


Other struggles for children in single-parent homes are the impact on school performance and peer relationships. Research indicates that children from single-parent homes are more likely to drop out and earn lower grades perhaps due to socioeconomic status and lack of parent involvement in school activities (Chavda and Nisagra, 2023).



positive impact of single parenting

Positive Impacts of Single-Parenting


While many stressors exist in single-parent homes, there are also positive impacts. Bonding between the child and parent increases compared to typical two-parent homes. As children mature, they may learn to adjust to change more comfortably and build resiliency. As children grow up in single-parent homes and see the struggles, they may learn to value parenthood from a different viewpoint, work harder toward their goals, and learn to balance their needs as well as the needs of others (Chavda and Nisagra, 2023). 



Conclusion: Navigating Stressors and Building Resilience


While many stressors are commonplace in single-parent homes that impact both the parent and the child, there can also be positive impacts. Raising children as a single parent is not easy. Building support networks and reaching out for professional help to foster mental and emotional well-being can help single parents navigate these stages and process the unique struggles they and their children face.





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