I bet if you are a single parent you must often wonder what the effects of single parenting will have on your boy! You probably rarely think of the effects it has on you, but, of course, it affects you too.
The effects of single parenting on the parent
I think we should start by looking at how it affects you, the single parent. It's just too easy to think of the effects on the children and overlook the effects on the parent. If you are a single parent, you must be mother and father at once and that places a huge burden on you. In addition, single parents are usually afraid to be lonely or isolated. It doesn't have to be the case! Many single parents will tell you that they felt way lonelier when they were in a bad relationship than they are now they are single.
Loneliness is part of life, it happens to everybody at some point. Just learn to deal with it. Instead of focusing on the negatives in your life, focus on all the good things. Don't waste time dating or having relationships with people who don't treat you nicely just because you'd do anything not to be lonely. Your time is better spent with people who have a positive outlook. They will help you have a positive focus on your life. Likewise, it's not a good idea to rush into marrying someone just to be with someone. You might end up even lonelier and more miserable than you were.
Despite - or thanks to - the difficulties of being a single parent, you can actually become a stronger person. It can help you learn to not rely on others for your emotional well-being. You will probably have to learn to deal with problems that you might not have dealt with before. I bet you will learn to be more understanding to people going through difficult times and will try to help them and support them emotionally.
Another of the effects of single parenting is the parent overcompensating. Single parents often feel guilty for putting their son in this situation and, as a result, they end up spoiling their child. Don't be mistaken, spoiling your son will not replace the missing parent and will not make him love you more. Do show him your love and spend as much quality time as possible with him, but learn to say no when necessary. He will not love you less!
I mentioned guilt. This is a very common feeling amongst single parents. And, unfortunately, some children do take advantage of this parental guilt to try and manipulate their parent. Do not fall into this trap! You are both in it together and must work as a team. You are the parent and you are the one making decisions, whether he likes it or not. The situation you are in has nothing to do with this. You know what is in your son's best interest. Try and put your guilty feelings behind and focus on being a responsible parent. You are not a less worthy parent because you are single.
Of course, a major effect of single parenting is financial! Chances are that you will have to cut on a lot of things when you become a single parent. Cutting your income in half (or even more!) can have drastic consequences. You will probably need to take a hard cold look at your finances and review your priorities. Unfortunately, even when child support is issued, it is not always paid. You might have to rely on your sole income. This can mean working more out of the home and this can lead to difficulties with your son if you work long hours.
Another consequence you might face is that your son might resent you because he is putting the blame on you. This often happens when the other parent is missing in the child's life. Your son will feel rejected by the missing parent and might take his frustration on you as a result.
But, the most difficult effects of single parenting are probably all the things a single parent has to do. There is no-one to blame if something goes wrong or doesn't get done. You are responsible for doing everything. Single parents usually quickly learn that if something needs to be done they'd better do it themselves. Even with a strong support system in place, there will be times when no-one can help you and you'll have to rise to the challenge. Just try to keep a positive attitude and learn from these challenges. It will help you grow. Remember, someone said that the day we stop to learn is the day we begin to die. ;)
The effects of single parenting on the child
Now, of course single parenting also affects the child. But, it's not all negative, there are a lot of positive effects of single parenting for your son.
Children growing up in single parent families usually develop strong bonds. It's probably due to the fact that they spend more one-on-one quality time with the one parent they live with.
When it comes to chores, children in single parent families usually need to contribute more to the family system. Their help is more necessary than in a two parent family and it helps them learn to share responsibilities and do their part.
A good side effect of the conflicts that often arise between separated parents is to allow kids to witness conflict mediation skills. They get to see how their parents work together and collaborate to settle the issues between them. In addition to learning to cope with conflict, they learn to deal with disappointment early in their life. Said like that, it might not sound like a good thing, but I believe it is. The sooner we learn to deal with disappointment, the better. What you can do to support them is to show empathy and encourage them. These experiences are good opportunities for growth and will help your son become a sensitive, caring and empathetic man. You won't always be able to prevent your child from feeling disappointed but you can help him learn to cope with his feelings.
Of course, there are also some negative effects of single parenting for the child. It is common in single parent families for the children to help more around the house and, as a consequence, they have less time to take part in typical kids activities with their friends. Children of single parents can also have difficulties understanding that their parent need some adult companionship. Another common issue for the child is to feel torn between his two parents and feel like he must take side. This is particularly true when there is conflict between the parents.
As a single parent you might be worried that your son will do less well in school because of your situation. There has been a lot of studies that tried to look into this. The results seem to be divided and I have had trouble finding clear results one way or another. It seems to me that there is no strong correlation in this regard. I want to quote the results of a recent Australian study:
"Findings from this study suggest that on the whole, most children will make satisfactory adjustments and cope adequately with these changes to family structure and family process resources. Therefore, it would behoove professionals working with children whose parents had separated or divorced to be aware of the more positive rather than negative prognosis for these children that this study and some other Australian studies have identified."
As a conclusion, I really want to stress the fact that not all the effects of single parenting are negative, on the contrary! Yes, there will be consequences for your son. But, as long as you provide him with love and a safe and nurturing environment, I believe he will do just as well as his peers in two parent families. Trust me, I'm one of those kids! ;)