Being a Single Parent

Last Updated July 2021 | This article was created by editorial staff and reviewed by Leisa Bailey, MD

Today’s families come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The “typical” household made up of 2 parents and 2.5 children is no longer typical. You may be raising your children on your own. Being a single parent can be challenging. It can also be very rewarding.

Path to improved well being

You may be a single parent due to divorce or death of a partner. Maybe you are parenting alone by choice. Being a single parent doesn’t mean you’re alone. You may have family members, friends, or neighbors nearby that can pitch in when you need them. You can also find a support group for single parents in your community. Look to your local community centers and religious organizations to see the groups they offer. You’ll meet other people who are in similar situations. Participating in a support group gives you a chance to share your feelings and get advice.

Being a single parent can cause financial strain. You may sometimes have problems finding childcare. The life of a single parent can be very busy. In addition to taking care of your children and your home, you may also be working and/or going to school. It’s important to find a way to balance all of the parts of your life. There are things you can do so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

  • Accept help. If friends and family offer their help, take it! This can mean having someone play with your child while you run errands or having someone to call when you need to talk.
  • Take advantage of local resources. Many communities offer playgroups, after-school activities, and parenting classes. These can give you and your child a chance to have fun, learn, and make new friends.
  • Take some time. Find creative ways to spend more time with your children in your busy days and weeks. See if your job will let you work flexible hours.
  • Have fun. Take a break from your busy routine to plan something special for you and your child. For example, take a surprise trip to the zoo, or go out for ice cream together. Check local event calendars for free or inexpensive activities you can do together.
  • Make time for yourself. You need to relax once in a while, too! This can be as simple as taking 15 minutes to look at a magazine after your child goes to bed. Find reliable childcare by asking friends and neighbors for resources. Then take a day or evening off once in a while so you can have time to relax and recharge.
  • Stay active. Find ways for you and your children to include exercise into your days. Staying active is good for you mentally and physically. It’s also a way for you to spend quality time with your children.

Things to consider

Children benefit from good role models of all sexes. Look for family members or friends of the opposite sex to be good examples for your children. Invite a positive and responsible family member or friend to spend time with your child. If you don’t have a family member or friend available, groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters can help.

Parenting is hard work. All parents have times when they get angry or frustrated. But don’t take out your feelings on your child. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask for help right away.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Childhelp USA

Parents Without Partners