How to Raise a Happy Child with an Absent Parent
The modern world has greatly influenced family institutions: now, there is no need to save an unsuccessful marriage in order to survive and raise a child. A woman is quite capable of sustaining herself and her child without the participation of a man. Nevertheless, the question of how can a child without a father grow into a healthy person arises inevitably. Is a mother able to cope with the upbringing of her child on her own, or is such a child doomed to a difficult life? (spoiler: no, they are not doomed!).
- Single-Parent Families: Worldwide Statistics
- Raising a Child Without the Dad: What Problems Would You Be Coming Across?
- How is the Child Affected by the Absence of a Father?
- Can a Stepfather Fully Replace a Dad?
- Mistakes that should be Avoided by Single Mothers
- How to Raise a Child Without the Father? Tips from a Psychologist
- Can a Child Be Raised Happy Without the Father?
Single-Parent Families: Worldwide Statistics
Nowadays, more and more people are abandoning the traditional way of life and relationships: a child who is brought up in a so-called “incomplete family” is no longer a rarity. “Incomplete family” refers to the ones consisting of one parent and a child or children. A grandmother is often present in the life of such families, as it is quite difficult to raise a child on your own.
The U.S. is a leader in the number of families with a single parent, with 23% and half of the African American families being incomplete. The second and third places are split between the UK and Sao Tome and Principe (an island state in Africa) with 21% and 19%, respectively.
There are many reasons for a man to leave a family. Moreover, modern women are also increasingly leaving relationships once they feel that they cannot continue them any longer, and this is perfectly normal.
If you could not find a common language with your partner, it is better to get separated and go your own way, rather than aiming to “keep the family for the sake of the children.” Coldness and constant conflicts within the family traumatize children much more than a quiet life with one of their parents.
Raising a Child Without the Dad: What Problems Would You Be Coming Across?
Let’s point out right away that in addition to traditional families consisting of a “mom-dad” combination, “mum-grandmother” type families are now also very common. Both models of the family are quite capable of coping with the upbringing of the child and helping to stabilize the emotional state of the mother.
However, today we will be mainly talking about families where a woman has little (or not enough) help from her family and loved ones, and she is raising a child on her own. Most likely, such a mother will face the problems described below.
1. Lack of assistance in raising the child
When a child is a newborn, they require constant attention. Sometimes mothers can’t even find a minute to take a bath, let alone leave the house without a child or mind their own business.
After this, the stage of kindergarten begins, bringing some endless sick leaves with itself. Unfortunately, very few employers are willing to tolerate a woman who is constantly on sick leave.
Of course, the child will become more independent and life will return to normal over time, however, the first seven years will be the most difficult period in the life of any family, regardless of whether it is a traditional family or a family with a single parent.
2. Lack of self-esteem and certainty in one’s own raising methods
Single moms are often left alone with their thoughts and feelings. As a consequence, they may start feeling like they’re not good enough as a mother.
Society believes that only a complete family can give a full-fledged upbringing to a child. Although in reality, it is sometimes better to raise a child alone than with a destructive father.
Under the pressure of others and from her own insecurity, the mother has a risk of starting to rush from one method of education (ignorance) to another (excess control and helicopter parenting).
3. The need to make decisions on your own
Taking responsibility for one’s life is hard. However, being responsible for two (or even three, four, etc.), is even more difficult. All decisions and issues fall on the shoulders of the mother, from what to have for breakfast to where to get the money to buy winter shoes for the child. The inability to consult or share this burden with someone can be very difficult for the mother. However, for some women, this is, on the contrary, a good thing as they want to live without anyone telling them how to live the way they want.
4. The need to maintain the child’s relationship with the father
Whatever the father of the child, the baby has the right to know who this person is. It is also desirable to talk more about the father’s positive features, and not about the negative sides and who is to blame. The child knows that they were born from the union between the father and the mother. So, if the dad is bad, then this is only half of the issue…
Unfortunately, not all women are ready to help the child to maintain a connection with the father, even if it is a psychological one. They are afraid to let go of the child, and the presence of an ex-boyfriend or husband is unpleasant for them. However, if a man tries to be a good dad, he is not an alcoholic and an abuser, it would be better to find a way to cooperate in raising a child.
5. Lack of financial stability
A mother raising the child on her own is likely to come across financial trouble. According to the statistics, the average child support in the U.S. is only $430 per month and $5150 per year, which is a very small amount to cover all child-related costs. On the other hand, some positive trends can be spotted in Europe, as according to the data, the percentage of single parents has grown by 21% between 1994 and 2004, with 64% of single parents receiving child support.
It is great if a woman with a child has got her own house, a stable income, and a loyal employer, however, not everyone can boast of such luck.
6. Leaving out one’s personal tasks, hobbies, feeling, and emotions
In a whirlpool of endless household chores and educational activities, it may occur that a mother can let go of her own desires and leave them “until a better time”. Nevertheless, if a mother who raises a child with a partner has a chance for rest and self-fulfillment, a single mother would run the risk of fully dedicating herself to the child.
A child requires attention at any age, therefore it is very difficult to combine work, personal life, and raising a child, on your own. However, you can rely on the Findmykids app that allows you to stop worrying about your child when you’re not around. You must always know where your child is, which route they are following, and what is going on around them!
How is the Child Affected by the Absence of a Father?
Of course, the absence of a father has got an effect on the child. Numerous foreign studies show that children growing up without a father are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety. As teenagers, they tend to consume alcohol and have an increased risk of ending up in jail.
It is important to note that, as a rule, all of the above occurs in families with low socioeconomic status, in families in which there is no contact between the mother and child, or if the mother is suffering from mental issues.
The Influence of a Constant Absence of the Father
Scientists emphasize the fact that our society belittles the role of a man when raising children, creating the image of a “father that does not have the influence nor the capability for anything”. In single-parent families where the mother maintains a positive image of the father, children do not feel such a sharp absence of the father. At the same time, the right masculinity is formed in boys, and the risk of entering into unhealthy relationships is reduced in girls.
Researchers also noticed that a child from a single-parent family is strongly influenced by the emotional state of the mother and her responsibilities when solving domestic and financial issues. Children are more likely to get sick and have chronic diseases if they do not receive proper positive attention from their mothers.
Children who grew up with one parent often carry this relationship model into their future families. It is difficult for them to seek compromises, accept love and care, and display it in return. However, from a career standpoint, such children tend to make more practical choices, as financial stability becomes a very significant success factor for them.
The Influence of the Temporary Absence of the Father
There are families in which the father is absent for several months, after which he returns for a while and then leaves again. This is usually associated with a shift type of work. Such families have their own particularities for raising children: dads are, as it were, quite distant and detached from the upbringing process, at least half of the time. They need more effort to form a relationship with the family and children who are used to only having the mother in charge.
With the joint efforts of the parents, the family may be able to find compromises in which the father will act as a full-fledged father of the family, and not just as a “holiday dad with gifts” or a “tyrant father who is always angry”.
The Particularities of Not Having a Father for Boys
It is important for boys to see the right model of male behavior. No matter how hard the mother tries, she cannot be a father. Just like a father cannot become a mother. The absence of a man in the family leads to a lack of balance. The boy receives too much “female” energy, manifested through care, guardianship and outlook on life. Moreover, if a grandmother is also involved in the upbringing process, which is a fairly common family model at the moment, this “energy” becomes twice as prominent.
Here are the 2 main mistakes that women can make when raising a boy: overprotecting the child and belittling the father or other men in the eyes of the child, saying “your father left us”, “he was a bad person”, “all men are like that!”, etc. In contrast, when the child may see how the mother is looking for a partner, they may begin forming a negative overall image of a woman. This wouldn’t mean that the mother should give up her personal life, however, it’s not worth bringing lots of “new dads” into the house either.
The Particularities of Not Having a Father for Girls
A father for a girl is the first man in her life, the person to bring in the first experience of unconditional love and acceptance. The absence of such a person would greatly affect the ability to build relationships with the opposite sex in the future. Additionally, if the mother is also constantly saying that all men are bad, including the child’s father, the daughter develops distrust and rejection towards a potential future partner. This often becomes a family scenario, and this is partly why we see “grandmother-mother-child” families on a regular basis nowadays.
Can a Stepfather Fully Replace a Dad?
Having a stepfather in the family can have a very positive effect on children. However, it only works if the mother’s new partner is ready to wait for the children to accept him.
Stepfathers often try to replace their father by being actively involved in the upbringing of the child and demonstrating excessive strictness. In response, this will end up in the “you are not my father!” argument, and in another scandal, as a result.
There can be only one recommendation for mothers and stepfathers—to approach issues of upbringing together and not to be the father of the child and compare him with the stepfather. Try to establish friendly contact and become a mentor instead of a controller.
Children adopt our behavioral patterns, thus only a respectful attitude can teach children to respect.
Mistakes that should be Avoided by Single Mothers
Formation of a negative perception of a man
We already mentioned this error: there is no need to add half of humanity to the list of “abnormal people”. This will not make you or your children happy, it will only be an addition of distrust between your child and the opposite sex.
When left alone with a child, mothers often face the temptation to make raising their baby the main purpose in life. However, it is important not to forget that a child is a separate individual who does not have to be with you until the last breath. Excessive care makes the child inactive and depressive. In adolescence, a mother may encounter a vivid protest that will lead the child to risky and dependent behavior. If the rebellion is suppressed, then, most likely, the teenager will stay in their home just “to please his mother”, whilst being a deeply unhappy person.
Treating the child as a friend
A child is definitely a close person to their parents. Nevertheless, the role of a home psychologist for the mother is too much for them.
For a child, a mother represents protection and support. It is a person who can do and overcome anything. Therefore, you should stop constantly telling your child about your problems, inducing a feeling of guilt, with them thinking, “I make my mother feel bad”, or having them feel helpless and think that they can’t help their mother. In order to discuss your issues, find a friend or make an appointment with a psychologist.
Avoiding “complete families”
Since a single mom often experiences anxiety and guilt, thinking that her family is not as good as everybody else’s, she may begin to wish to avoid families which have both a mom and a dad. This should not be done. After all, the whole perception of reality is not limited to your family model. Show the diversity of the world to your child. Perhaps when they grow up, they will want to repeat the relationship model that they saw in another family.
Excessive number of relationships and romance or a total absence of it
Since raising a child alone is not an easy task, a mother can fall into one of the extremes by starting to actively search for a “new dad” or on the contrary, fully abandon her personal life. Neither of these two options will lead to anything positive.
Find balance within yourself. Appreciate the signs of attention from men, but do not make plans with everyone you meet on your way. Introduce your child to your new partner only if you are certain that you are willing to establish a long-term relationship with them.
A “new father”
A stepfather appearing in the family is normal. However, do not force the child to call the new family member “dad”, especially if the child already has a father and they keep in touch.
Be prepared to encounter some resistance from the child, since you chose this person, and not them. Show that no matter what, you love your child, accept their feelings and don’t get angry. If your new partner is wise enough, he and your child will certainly find some common ground.
How to Raise a Child Without the Father? Tips from a Psychologist
Different things happen in life, and our desires and plans are not always fully realized. A beloved husband may turn out not to be so ideal, the child’s father may abandon you or pass away. Despite all of that, the child has already been born, and they require your support and understanding.
“A calm mother is key to a calm baby”—this is the formula that psychologists mention from time to time. Therefore, it is important to start educational work with yourself by addressing the following points:
- Choose a parenting style that you understand and that fits your perception of the world. No need to jump from one extreme to another and use all given advice at once. There are no perfect moms, but there are certainly “good enough” ones. Your predictability is the key to the calmness and confidence of your child.
- Get rid of the feeling of guilt. It is not your fault that your family is incomplete. This also does not mean that your family is inferior to others. Your assurance that the mom and the child form a family will give your baby the confidence that the world is good and safe.
- Master the skill of time management and delegate responsibilities. Involve those who are not indifferent in the upbringing of the child, such as relatives, friends, or other families. Moreover, it is possible that paying for babysitting services could be a more profitable solution than sick leave. Remember that there are no unresolvable situations. In the worst-case scenario, YouTube and cartoons will give you up to one hour of free time for a shower and a cup of tea.
- Maintain a decent image of the dad. Remember that this is the man you fell in love with and with whom you have a child. What happened between you should not matter to the child. It is important for them to know that they were born from two good people, as this would mean that they are a good person, too.
- For a boy, if possible, find a person who can give a worthy example of male behavior, in the people around you. It can be an uncle, godfather, grandfather, or coach. It is important that the child feels a positive attitude towards themselves, and that they can get advice and support in difficult times. Perhaps this example could also be set by the father or the stepfather. However, do not put pressure on either children or the father.
- Involve the child in the life of the family in a gradual way. In adolescence, the child is able to take responsibility for their studies and self-care. Yes, a child is not a husband or a psychologist, but they aren’t weak-willed creatures either. Children enjoy helping their parents if the parents feel grateful.
Remember that each day will make it easier for you. Sleepless nights, endless purchases of clothes, whims, illnesses, and homework will go away. One day the child will grow up and become an independent person, and it would be nice if both of you are ready for this.
Can a Child Be Raised Happy Without the Father?
You can raise a happy child without a father, just like you can raise an unhappy child in a two-parent family. Overall, there is no catastrophic difference in whether two parents or one are raising a child. It is important that the child feels the value of the family, as well as love and support.
It is necessary to build healthy boundaries and spread rights and responsibilities in an efficient way. It is desirable that the roles in the family do not switch places and that everyone remains in their place. This way, the child will feel safe and their confidence and calmness will be strengthened. Such people will inevitably find happiness!
The picture on the front page: Liderina/Shutterstock.com
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