As I posted about last week, I contributed to an article that was launched last week regarding the difficulties of being a single mother to a baby. I would like to include more of my thoughts on this subject at this time, as not all were included in the article Going It Alone: Overcoming the Challenges of Single Parenting by Shannon Philpott.
There are many challenges that come with being a single parent, especially with being a single parent to a baby. However, I want to say that not all single mothers experience increased difficulty and some may even prefer to parent this way. All new mothers experience a loss of freedom but single mothers may experience less help and support on a daily basis due to not having a father in the household. On the other hand, if the mother has a good support system with other family members and friends, it is possible that she will receive much of this support and possibly even more so than the father could provide. Having less support, however, puts the new mother at greater risk to feel resentment towards her baby. If she is not a single parent by choice or expected to have help from the father, she may be feeling anger, sadness, and resentment towards the father as well, and the baby is often seen as an extension of the father, again possibly increasing resentful feelings towards the baby.
A single mother may also need to go back to work sooner than she wants to due to having to provide for the baby. A working mother is less likely to be able to continue breastfeeding due to having to be away from the baby. For some mothers, not being able to breastfeed as often could also be a drawback. Single mothers may also feel increased stress due to having to find childcare, work, and care for the baby as well as feeling guilt for not spending the time that she would like to with the baby. All of these factors could interfere with creating a bond with the baby and/or cause the mother to feel more guilt and put her at higher risk for postpartum blues or depression.
Luckily, being a single mother or parent does not doom a parent to a lifetime of stress and a low bond with their child. These are only possibilities in this scenario and some mothers actually fair very positively. Part of this is due to everyone having different strengths, supports, and thresholds. Some things that you can do to increase the likelihood that you are not as negatively affected by being a single parent is finding support from whatever positive sources you can find. As I stated in the article, this may be from church, family, friends, neighbors, mothers groups as well as other sources. It is also essential to find time for relaxation and de-stressing. A good way to do this is to commit to getting exercise outside with the baby. Not only is it good for you to get outside for fresh air and to exercise, but babies tend to enjoy being outside as well. Also, it is important for mother’s to realize that quality time has a bigger impact with their child than the quantity of time, so when you are with your baby, make sure you make the most of the time.
Overall, as stated in the article, it is essential to accept that your life is now different than it was pre-baby. Instead of dwelling on how much more difficult your life is now, be sure to focus on all the positives that being a parent brings to your life and the joy and wonder you share with your baby.