Typically, divorce professionals and therapists will recommend couple's actively participate in co-parenting their children after they decide to end their marriage. Co-parenting helps children cope with divorce, and provides a sense of familiarity and structure, which is calming to children of divorce. However, due to certain circumstances, co-parenting may not always be a viable option. So, what should you do if you're facing the realization that you will be a divorced and single parent?
Before we discuss what to expect as a first time single parent, we need to understand why some former couples choose not to co-parent. Reasons for opting to become a single parent vary, but a common factor has to do with domestic violence. Whether it be physical, emotional, or mental, abusive households are not a proper environment for children to be raised in. Additionally, abusive relationships between parents give children a false idea of what a healthy, successful and mutually satisfying relationship is. Because of this, abuse victims will often try to shield their children from their former spouse and protect them from harm. This can be done by receiving an Order of Protection, or, being granted sole legal and physical custody of the kids.
Alternatively, there are situations where, despite their best efforts, co-parenting just doesn't work out. This is usually due to hostile and negative feelings left over from a messy and contested divorce proceeding, however, relocation and a dedication to a professional career can oftentimes make co-parenting impossible, as well. It can be incredibly hard, if not sometimes impossible, for former spouses to co-parent if they do not get along. Sometimes, one parent will move to another state or country to further their career. Having one half of your co-parenting team suddenly become an absent presence in your child's life means that you to figure out how to raise your children on your own (whether you like it or not).
While single parenting will be difficult, especially during the initial adjustment period, those who find themselves in this situation can take comfort in the fact that single parenting is not an impossible feat. It's important to have a great support system comprised of extended family members and friends because they can act as a shoulder to cry on during tough times, as well as help out with the children when you are unable to do so. Additionally, some parents and their children may have a tough time adjusting to a single parent lifestyle (especially if they were members of an abusive household), and would benefit from therapy.
Financial woes are a major concern for single parents, as they now have to support their children on one income instead of two. Child support helps to soften the financial blow of single parenthood; however, it isn't always enough. This why it is imperative a single mother or father devise a budget- and stick to it. You should have a general idea of what your current net worth is, thanks to the Statement of Net Worth that was completed during your divorce. Sticking to a budget will help keep you out of credit card and loan debt, which in turn, will keep your stress and anxiety levels low.
Studies have shown the rewarding outcomes of positive thinking, and when faced with becoming a first time single parent, it's best to look on the bright side. Sure, taking on the stressful challenge of raising your children without the help of your ex is scary, but a pessimistic outlook regarding the situation will set you up for some form of failure. Prioritizing will also help single parents keep a positive outlook because it allows them to make time for the most important or memorable experiences.
Finally, one of the most important things a newly single parent can do is to take time for themselves. Be a little selfish and spend time doing something you enjoy on your own or with a few friends. Go out for drinks, take a cooking class, or even remodel your bedroom. To keep your sanity, and a positive attitude, you need to check-out of real life once in a while. Your happiness will rub off on those around you, which can be beneficial for your children.
Becoming a single parent is hard, but not impossible. Surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends, actively working to avoid debt, seeking professional help for you and your children, and taking special "you" time are all ways to help ease your new, little family into a single parent lifestyle. At the law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. , we continually fight for our client's rights throughout the divorce process by representing them in New York City Supreme and Family Courts, as well as negotiating the best settlements on their behalf. For more information regarding divorce and child custody and support matters, contact (718) 875-7584 or (646) 759-0167 to schedule your free consultation today!