In recent years, a widespread phenomenon we have encountered is families consisting of children and one parent, compared to the nuclear family’s classic model. Usually, single-parent families are created either by choice, by divorce, or by one parent’s death.
Types of single-parent families
Single-parent family by choice (single parent)
This category usually includes mothers who decide to raise their children independently, without the presence of a partner. Most problems arise when a child realizes that his own family is different from that of his classmates. The mother needs to prepare the child and explain to him simply and understandably why she made this choice, without blaming the biological father. It is important to emphasize that diversity is not a bad thing.
Single-parent family due to divorce
In the divorce, the reclassifications caused are particularly difficult and painful for both parents and children. Even if the divorce occurred in a friendly and calm atmosphere that did not burden the children emotionally, their reactions to this change are unpredictable and completely normal. Moreover, in most divorces, the transformation taking place in children’s lives is intended to improve the environment as they will now all live without conflict, tension, and anger. They may find it difficult to adjust to the new reality, but they will gradually realize that it happened for good reasons. It is up to both parents to decide the level of relationship they will maintain so that the children are not deprived of either parent’s presence.
Single-parent family due to the death of one parent
The death of one of the parents inevitably alters the family balance. Dealing with loss and adapting to new circumstances is a long and challenging process for both parents and children. The surviving parent is now responsible, among other things, for the children’s upbringing and education, for the care of the home and the family’s financial security. In addition to the role he previously had (mother / father), he is obliged to shoulder the other parent’s unfulfilled part. He needs to stand firm to be able to support and meet the needs of his children.
It is a fact that all types of single-parent families face problems of either financial (as a single parent, without support from their immediate environment, may find it challenging to meet the practical, economic, and educational needs of children) or social and psychological (as the social environment can treat them in a different way and children may exhibit various negative behaviors due to the absence of one parent).
What can you do as parents who raise your children on your own to restore the family atmosphere and balance?
· Try to organize the family environment with rules that will restore security and stability.
· Speak honestly to the children and answer all their questions about the other parent.
· Let children live their childhood and do not force them to assume responsibilities and adult duties due to the other parent’s absence.
· Avoid involving children in the process of deciding which parent to stay with after the divorce. If there are conflicts between the two parents, it is a good thing that they remain with each other and do not convey any negative feelings about the other parent to the children. Children must live in an atmosphere of stability and love; this will be ensured with interest from both parents and their smooth cooperation for children’s good.
· Many times, children believe that they are the same culprits for the parent’s death or the divorce. It is good to clarify that they are not responsible for anything that happens to their family. Life plans are continually being adjusted or changing, and we are called upon to respond to these changes.
· It is possible that children try to conceal or stifle their negative feelings because they don’t want to hurt the parent who cares for them. Please encourage your children to express their feelings by taking the first step. It is not bad if you sometimes look weak and vulnerable, if he sees you crying or if you express your sadness and anger at the whole situation. If they’re not ready to express themselves verbally, you don’t have to push them.
· Younger children, because they still haven’t learned to manage and control their emotions, can erupt with manifestations of rage and aggression. Help them find helpful ways to channel this anger.
· Help children keep memories of the deceased parent.
· Do not hesitate to ask for the support of your loved ones (on a material and emotional level).
· Spend time exclusively with yourself and improve your mental mood to cope with the new situation and convey this positive climate to children.