My mother is a single parent and my sister, mom and I all live together. Even though my mom is alone with the two of us, she finds a way to provide us with the things we need at the end of the day. She works later hours sometimes at night. On nights like that I take care of my sister by watching her. My family is mostly made up of single mothers who teach me with their wisdom and grace. Children like me are growing up in single parent families more and more and with that come many challenges.
If you are like me and live with one parent you know a lot of other kids who do too. More than 20 million kids in the United States also live with one parent. Approximately 20% of women in our country lead a single parent family. Three major reasons for this are death of a parent, separation and divorce, or the mom and dad may never have lived together. Divorce is the main reason and 49% of marriages end in divorce in the U.S. Many of my friends have divorced parents. Divorced women are four times more likely to live in poverty than a married woman. This has a great impact on children.
There are many challenges that single parent families face. One challenge is the feeling of being split between parents. For a period of time I lived with my dad and then I lived with my mother – but never at the same time. Many children struggle deeply with accepting the fact that their parents are broken up. Single parent families with multiple children often need help from their oldest children to raise the younger children. This sometimes limits kids from experiencing all the adventures of childhood because of the parental role they must assume. These are just a few of the different circumstances and challenges that single parent families face.
Right now my mother and father try to work together and keep me happy. On the weekends I go down to my fathers house and spend time with my other family. I am very lucky because other children with only one parent may never know their mom or dad. Regardless of who your single parent is, without a full time working parent, the family has less money and often more stress.
A custodial parent is the term for a parent who has legal and physical custody of their child. There are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States. Of these single parents, 84% of custodial parents are mothers and 16% are fathers. A non-custodial parent does not have legal or physical custody of their children, which is usually decided by a court. Half of non-custodial mothers are totally default on support, which means they struggle or cannot pay for the support their families need. I think that non-custodial moms are treated more harshly than non-custodial fathers because people think that women who lose their kids are bad mothers and that mothers are supposed to be a child’s primary care provider.
It can be tough when you don’t have enough time with your dad or mom. When you live with one parent, that person really has to do the work of two people. Besides a job, your mom or dad is responsible for caring for the kids, the house, the yard, the car, the pets – everything that grown-ups do! Approximately 66% of custodial mothers work less than full time. The percentage of custodial fathers who work less than full time is 18%. Single parents are often working parents because someone needs to earn money to pay for food, clothing, and a place to live. Thirty nine percent of two parent families made 75,000 dollars last year but only 6 % of single parents matched this earning. Having a job means your mom or dad is able to provide these things and more for you.
Around the country there are organizations that support single parent families. Spin is an organization that provides single parent families with the information they need from single parent volunteers. Spin started when the director of the organization lacked information on the circumstances of being a single mother. Spark is an organization that helps single parents with a child or with children who are under 18. They also let single parent families go to events every month; they go to places like museums, concerts, dinners, and more.
I have also researched methods to help kids of single parent families and then I mixed some of these suggestions into my own ideas. Strategy number 1 is for kids of single parent families to push themselves to do their best work because this will prove to people all over that single parents can have well educated kids. Strategy numbers 2 is to increase communication so feelings can be shared and better understood. Especially talk about the other parent if the children are curious about the situation. Strategy numbers 3, do family things like outings and trips, or even going to the market or place of worship. These strategies are all about talking it out.