Guilt and the Single Parent

Guilt and the Single Parent

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
Single parents often have their own complex combination of stresses and concerns. It can be very difficult raising a child on ones own and guilt can often become an overwhelming part of the equation.
Let's look at some of the areas that can cause guilt:
- Money is often a major factor with a single parent. Money has to be earned but earning it often means that long hours are worked and childcare is required. If there is no convenient childcare it can be very difficult trying to earn money whilst giving the children proper care and quality attention. All options bring their own problems. Having someone else look after ones children whilst being away from them for long periods of time is difficult to cope with.
Conversely not earning enough money can cause guilt and anxiety as to how to pay the bills. Many of the options that involve working from home are poorly paid. Some single parents try to share childcare on an unofficial basis, splitting the working week between them. Working part-time is better than not at all. Others work the night shift and arrange for the children to sleep at a friends or neighbours.
- Role models are often a concern. Finding good quality male or female role models can be difficult. Sometimes there are family members nearby or godparents. Neighbours, friends, clergy may suffice. As they get older schoolteachers and local clubs can bring good role models into their lives. Joining youth groups can introduce children to inspirational leaders and role models.
- Discipline can be difficult for the single parent. There is often the desire to spend precious free time together in a pleasant way and when things don't go to plan it can be distressing and depressing. Needing to be firm enough to raise children well can be difficult, especially when one is doing it alone. Guilt can be a factor, especially if the children seem to be unruly. It can be hard to accept that all children misbehave. But being stressed and shouldering all the responsibility on ones own can cause a feeling of guilt at having failed in some way.
- Being present and available for the children in itself can be difficult and can cause a lot of guilt. Many single parents simply do not have enough hours in the day to be everything to everybody. The stress of constantly being in demand, earning money, having a home to run, being a good mother can cause tension, stress and irritability. There is often no time available for any personal life.
- Having friends, especially potential new dating friends can be guilt inducing. What to do about them, maybe bringing them home, whether or not to introduce them to the children, when is the right time, can all be minefields for the single parent. Wanting to do right by the children as well as have some semblance of a personal life can be a difficult situation to juggle.
Single parents have many logistical and practical concerns before they even consider the facts of raising children. Managing children and a household in order to provide a safe, loving environment brings its own issues and concerns. For the single parent these are all compounded. The guilt is often enormous.

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