Long gone are the days when a normal family was made up of mum, dad, children, and the family dog. Today, about 25% of children in the UK are in single parent families and the numbers are similar in other countries as well.
There are many reasons for the high number of single parent families. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances such as divorce, death of a partner, or abandonment leaves one parent solely responsible for the care of the children, while other parents choose to raise their children solo.
Many single people want to parent a child and choose surrogacy, in vitro fertilisation, or adoption to help complete their family. In any case, the face of families has changed dramatically over the past few decades, with single parenting becoming commonplace.
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A Real Look at Single Parents
While old school thinking may stereotype single parents as less capable than two parent families in caring for and meeting the needs of their children, today’s single parents are often nothing like the old description of a young female, abandoned by her partner and forced to rely on benefits to raise their child. The single parent community covers a broad spectrum of individuals, just like two parent families.
As any parent will tell you, raising kids can be very stressful. The support of family, friends, and the community as a whole is important to all parents, and for those without partners, having a caring support system may be especially appreciated. Many churches, schools, and community centres sponsor single parent social and support groups to give parents the opportunity to form bonds with others who face similar challenges. Activities such as weekly meetings and outings can help single parents to form valuable friendships.
While it can be difficult to raise children on two salaries, families with only one source of income may have an especially hard time making ends meet. For those who qualify, help is available. If you are struggling, consider whether you may qualify for:
- Working Families Tax Credit
- Children’s Tax Credit
- Lone Parent Run-On
- New Deal for Lone Parents, which is a voluntary programme operated through Employment Service Job Centres, designed to assist single parents who are seeking employment.
Across the UK a number of organisations are in place to offer help and advice for single parents. You may want to contact:
- Single Parents UK, an online community
- One Parent Families Scotland
Going it Alone
There are many sources of assistance and support for single parent families across the UK, so there is no need to feel that you are in this alone. You can ask friends and family members for referrals or simply go to your favourite search engine to locate a group near you.
Raising kids is a joyful experience rich with rewards, but can be enormously hard work. Take care of yourself by seeking the support of friends and you will be better able to take care of your kids, too.