The first year as a single parent can feel like the longest of your life. You will have a lot of emotional and psychological stress to recover from, while also adding to your emotional workload by taking on primary caregiving responsibilities for your children.
These six stages of dealing with divorce, separation, and single parenting are encountered by most people as they transition from being a part of a couple to a lone parent.
#1 – Completing Separation And Divorce
Single parenthood comes with a few additional challenges to parenting as a part of a couple, and one of the first is negotiating a divorce and ensuring parental access to the children for your former partner.
Though these arrangements may be casual at first, you should get things in good order if you are both going to be able to move forward into the future with confidence.
You should seek professional help from an experienced law firm so that you fully understand your rights and obligations, and set a formal custody agreement and visitation rights.
At National Legal Service you will find legal aid solicitors with the expertise you need to make your separation and divorce simpler, and their experienced team has all the necessary resources to support you during the process.
#2 – The Emotional Toll
When you begin the process of separation and divorce things can move very quickly, and a huge raft of changes in your life will take place.
In these initial stages, it is easy to get caught up in the flurry of disruptions, but soon the emotional toll of the end of your relationship begins to set in.
By preparing yourself for these emotional challenges and reaching out to those around you for support you can mitigate these problems.
Getting support from a mental health professional can be very beneficial to newly single parents even if they feel they are managing to cope without it. Stress can build up quickly, and there will be challenging days and weeks ahead.
The people in your life will welcome an opportunity to offer support and assistance to see you through a challenging time. You should never feel any shame or apprehension when asking for help from those around you.
#3 – Feeling Judged By Others
Even now, there is a stigma surrounding single parenthood. It is easy to feel like you and your choices are being judged by others around you, especially by the other parents at school or in your child’s friend group.
Attitudes are changing as more and more people experience being a single parent, but you are going to face unwanted opinions and judgment and you need to prepare yourself for this.
Each separation is unique, and no one outside of you and your former partner can fully appreciate what you are going through and the problems you are facing. Rely on the positivity, support, and understanding of your close friends and family as well as the staff at their school.
#4 – Clashing With Your Ex-Partner
This stage of the process is inevitable. Both of you share interests in your children but have competing personal interests.
Your children need you to work together, and there will be times in the future when you will need the help of your ex-partner to temporarily alter child visitation or custody agreements to accommodate changes in your life. It is easy to become frustrated with one another, but you must think about the long term repercussions of any clashes or verbal outbursts.
There will be many times you are frustrated or angered by the words and actions of your ex-partner, but it is important that you do not let this affect your children’s relationship with them. Your children are going to need a healthy and functional relationship with both of their parents to succeed as adults.
Work with your ex-partner to provide care and love for your children and leave any antagonism at the door.
#5 – Experiencing Failures
It is impossible to manage a separation and single parenthood without making your fair share of mistakes. Things are not always going to go your way, and there will be many things outside of your control or influence that will impact your childcare arrangements and finances. Be prepared to make these mistakes and do not be too hard on yourself.
Do not expect perfection. You will not be able to get through single parenting without experiencing a steep learning curve.
Make sure you treat each failure as an opportunity to grow and learn, helping you to become a better single parent. Support from your family and close friends will be a valuable resource for you at these times.
#6 – Your Children Will Test Boundaries
One of the most common phenomena for single parents is that your children will begin to test your rules and boundaries, and attempt to ‘bounce’ you and your ex-partner off each other. There will be instances where your children insist they are allowed to do one thing in your home and another in their other parent’s home.
The best way to combat this problem is to work with your ex-partner to uphold the same rules and standards of behavior wherever your children are.
It is thought that many children do this to get attention from one parent or another or to exert some power over a situation where they are powerless. The separation is something that happened to them, rather than something they had a hand in.
Be ready for them to cause disruption in your life or to start to make things difficult. This is a way for them to make their feelings felt. Approach them with understanding and support, but you also need to underscore your ground rules for family life.
The biggest challenge of becoming a single parent is keeping your composure. There will be times of extreme stress and your ex-partner’s decisions are going to affect your life, as yours will affect theirs.
As difficult as it sounds, the best solution is to try and bury the hatchet as soon as possible and work together are parents and not partners to build a brighter future for your children.