Are you a single parent by choice or considering single parenting by choice? It is definitely no longer taboo for a woman or even a man to be a single parent, as there are many valid reasons as to why you may want to undertake this daunting yet exciting task.
Single parenting is not always easy, but then neither is parenting in a two-parent household. The choice of whether you become a single parent or not is one that should be only be considered with all the facts in front of you, but the choice is yours alone.
Why Choose Single Parenting?
There are various reasons for individuals to decide to become single parents by choice, whether they are women or men who choose to do so. Some women choose single motherhood because of health problems, wherein they want to have children, but have not yet met the man they want to settle down with for the rest of their lives, and the window of opportunity is closing fast. This could be due to their age or to a medical condition such as endometriosis, through which the period in which the woman can conceive is severely limited.
Men are also electing to become single fathers by choice because they may want to father a child but do not necessarily want to get married, or for various other reasons, such as the fear that they may get divorced and not get to see their children often enough, since, unfortunately, men are often at the mercy of women in this regard, even if they are excellent fathers to their children.
You may also be stuck in an unhappy relationship and decide to divorce or separate. In this situation, firstly, the decision of who gets full custody, or how custody will work, must be a mutual decision. Remember that a biological mother or father does have rights, and these should be respected, unless of course, in a situation where the opposing parent was abusive, for example. If you have both decided that you will be the sole parent after the separation, you will need to carefully consider how to explain this situation to your child or children, and do not allow them to become pawns in a messy break up. The best advice is to be honest, as children are surprisingly perceptive as to when they are being lied to. This can be a very empowering decision for you to make, but you must be certain that it is something that you want to, and can, do alone, and that it is also the best decision for the sake of the child. The transition from a dual-parent home to a single-parent one must be handled with caution.
Making the Decision to Become a Single Mom or Single Dad
It is most certainly possible to be a loving, caring and successful single parent, but you must be fully aware of what you are getting yourself in to, and ensure that you are prepared. Of course it will be a little harder without a spouse, but this does not have to dissuade you if you are in a stable environment and long to experience the joy of children. However, there are many factors to consider, such as the need for a support system in the form of family and friends, or a support group, and whether or not you can actually afford to be a single parent for the next 18 years. The next decision to make is what route you want to take in having a child; adoption, artificial insemination and the regular way are all options open to single mothers by choice, as is surrogacy.
Single fathers by choice generally have to rely on surrogacy or adoption if they are looking to start a family. Whichever route you decide to go needs to suit you and your needs and means, and must be done legally in order to protect all parties. Get the best legal advice for your situation and engage the services of a reputable lawyer to represent you.
Financial Security as a Single Parent
One of the most important details that need to be resolved before undertaking single parenting by choice is to ensure that your financial situation is stable and that you are either earning sufficient to support raising a child, or that you have an alternate means of income such as shares or an inheritance.
You will need to:
- Ensure that you have sufficient medical insurance and life insurance cover
- Have a reliable car in case you need to take your offspring somewhere in a hurry and cannot afford to wait for public transport
- Have access to a nanny or someone reliable to look after your child whilst you are at work
- Ensure that you have all your critical documents such as a will, a health care proxy, and power of attorney so that your child will be cared for in case of death or disability
- Have an emergency savings account in case you get laid off at work or cannot work for a period of time due to illness or an accident
- Ensure that you have at least some family members and or friends who are willing to act as a support system when you need one
The myth that single parents cannot be as good as, or even better than, two parents or that children of a single-parent household will suffer without a mother and a father to rear them is just that, a myth! Times have changed, society has progressed, social norms have relaxed and the parenting of today is not the parenting of our parents’ time.
Twenty years ago it was believed that a child needed two parents, and that raising a child in a single-parent home would create gender confusion because of the lack of a male or female role model. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry published a study which completely refuted these beliefs. The most important factor here is you. If you are a strong person and are determined to give your children the best care possible, with the means to do so, and despite any perceived adversities, then you needn’t feel inadequate. Children need a loving home and a good education; it does not matter whether they have the latest smart phone or wear the main name-brand jeans or not.
Single Parents by Choice Make Wonderful Parents
There are tens of thousands of women taking the option of single parenting by choice. Many studies that have been conducted that state that children from single-parent homes usually end up going off the rails; the boys end up in gangs, jail, on drugs or dead, and the girls become sexually promiscuous, and the majority of these children end up as high-school dropouts. Most of these studies are very old and are also mostly based on the single-parent families that are so because of death, abandonment or divorce, not families that started out that way by choice. The child born into your home will not become one of these statistics because you have made a conscious choice to bring your child into the world into a single-parented home. You have ensured that everything is in place for the child to have everything that he or she needs from you as a single parent, so there should be no emotional baggage or a sudden change in the financial situation which negatively affects the family to deal with.
In general, single mothers and fathers who are single parents by choice make wonderful parents because of the fact that they have a few things in common, such as the ability to make hard choices and stick to them. Single parents are self-sufficient and determined, and they are dedicated and loving. The trend of placing children with single parents has grown because it has been proven that single parents are more focused and the child responds very well to this focused attention.
The Benefits of Single Parenting by Choice
Single parenting is difficult, but it brings with it great rewards, amongst which is the fact that you will get to know yourself and just what you are capable of. Children of single parent homes usually have more chores than those who are raised in homes with two parents, and this teaches them valuable life lessons. Earning their pocket money teaches them the work ethic and responsibility that they will need in life. Allowing your child a say in some of the major decisions will also teach them how to think things through thoroughly in order to form a well-informed final decision. This also gives the child a certain degree of confidence, because you trust him or her enough to ask for their opinions, and then actually act on them. It can also be said that a child from a single parent household may have a stronger bond with his or her parent, since it will just be the two of you.
Also remember that you are, in fact, never alone; you can join groups, both online or in social gatherings, where you can converse with the members who can offer assistance, emotional support, and advice. This allows for a very wide network of family, friends, mentors, and male and female role models to be introduced into your children’s lives. It is important that you introduce various adults that you hold in high esteem as role-models to your children. Exposing your son or daughter to a community connection such as the one that can be found in single parenting groups will enable them to inculcate the moral coding of a social group and do not look to celebrities or as the people to emulate.
An often overlooked benefit to single parenting by choice is that there will be no one to undermine your authority. You are free to do what you believe is best for your child or children, and to enforce that. When you say it’s time for homework, there is no one saying “Ah honey, just let them watch TV a little longer”. You and you alone are in total control.
The Disadvantages of Single Parenting by Choice
As with two-parent families, there are some difficulties which you will need to deal with as a single mother or single father, but being aware of them will help you to overcome the difficulties more easily. Although the strong bond between single mothers and single fathers by choice can create really independent and strong children, it can also have the opposite effect. The intensity can sometimes be difficult to break as the child grows into a young adult, especially on the side of a mother who may not have a great social life and tends to be more of a recluse. It is for this reason that a strong support network is vital, so that both parties can take a break from each other. One of the disadvantages of those who are single parenting by choice have in common with parents who are single due to divorce or death is “where is my daddy/mommy?” This can be a difficult question to answer, and the best way is just to be totally honest with your child as to the reasons that you chose to become a single parent. The fact that you chose to have them, even though you were/are single usually makes them feel very loved and wanted, and they will appreciate your honesty, as well as learn from it.
The other problem that may arise is if you as a choice single parent do meet someone who you would like to get to know better and even date. This will probably present a problem, as your child is used to having you to themselves, but they should not have too much of a problem if you have prepared them enough by talking openly to them. Also, by exposing them to all types of families and a community that consists of aunts, uncles, friends, single and married parents, elders, and other children, they will have gathered that you may bring someone else into the relationship at some stage, as they will have seen that families do not always just consist of one parent.
Whether you elected to become a single parent because you have not met Mr. or Miss Right, or because you decided to get out of a marriage that was not working, or because of a medical condition, is irrelevant; you made the right choice for you. Remember that single parenting by choice does not mean that there is no help out there, nor does it mean that you have to do it all on your own.