Single Parenting is on the rise. One fourth of children under the age of eighteen in the US live in a single-parent household.
According to a publication by the US Census Bureau, over 21 million children (approximately 26%) live in a single parent home. Of those, around 84% live with the mother and 16% live with the father.
Read more about single parenting.
In some single parent households, the parent chooses to take on the adventure of raising a child alone. This is also referred to as being a Choice Mom or Choice Dad.
While there are a number of challenges to becoming a single parent by choice, in many ways, it's simpler than a two-parent household.
Who Are Single Parents By Choice?
There are any number of reasons that a person may choose to have a child without a partner. People who choose to be single parents may include:
- A single person who will start (or continue) to be the parent to a child without a partner.
- A person who has the emotional and fiscal ability to care for a child by him or herself.
- Usually, single parents by choice are women who have dedicated their lives to their careers and have reached a point in which she decides to have a child.
- Most single parents by choice are in their thirties or forties.
Challenges of Being a Single Parent By Choice:
Having a single-parent household can be difficult. Here are some of the challenges a single parent by choice may encounter:
Being a single parent household can be difficult. You may find it tiring to care for them twenty-four hours a day without reprieve.
Be sure to rely on family and friends to give you a break. Do NOT feel guilty about reaching out to friends, family or sitters if you need a break – everyone should have time to themselves; single parents are no exception.
Another challenge is being a one-income household. There may be limitations on what you can afford regarding luxuries that two-income households may be able to accommodate.
As a single parent, you are responsible for all decisions regarding your children. This can be both a challenge and a benefit.
Many people believe that a two-parent household is the preferable route for raising children. In this way, as a single parent by choice, you may spend a good deal of time defending your choice to have a child without a partner.
If you've made the choice to be a single parent by choice, be prepared to develop a thick skin - don't allow other people to tell you that you're "doing it wrong." It's your life; not theirs.
Options for Becoming a Single Parent:
In today’s world there are many options available to both men and women who have the desire to be a parent, single or not.
Adoption: There are several types of adoption, and each has its own set of requirements. In the end, the result is the same: a child united with a family and a family completed.
Read more about adoption.
Surrogacy: A woman agrees to carry a child for someone who will parent the child. Surrogacy is often an alternative to adoption and often adoption is part of the process, depending on the state and specific situation.
Read more about surrogacy.
Fostering Care: Children are placed in foster care for a variety of reasons, generally with the goal of reunification with their original family. Sometimes there are problems with the parent(s). These problems can include: abandonment, abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), incarceration, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or even death, which does not allow the child to return to his or her home. These children are placed in long-term foster care homes.
Read more about foster care.
Known Donor: In many cases of single parenting by choice, a woman asks a male friend to donate his sperm to her with the expectation that he will not be her partner, nor will he be acting as the father of her child. If you're opting to become a single parent by choice using a known donor, it's very important that all legal issues are taken care of before the child is born.
Intrauterine Insemination: Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is also known as artificial insemination. IUI is a medical procedure that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus during ovulation to make the woman become pregnant.
Read more about IUI
In Vitro Fertilization: In Vitro Fertilization, usually referred to as IVF, is a procedure used to address infertility by manually mixing an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. If the fertilization works an embryo transfer will be done to place the embryo in a woman’s uterus.
Read more about IVF.
Tips For Single Parents:
Even if a parent chooses to be a single parent by choice, there are challenges associated with being a one-parent household. Here are some tips for managing single parenthood by choice:
- Plan ahead for sick days by organizing a couple of back-up babysitters.
- Use extended family and friends for support and help (if possible) when parenting has become overwhelming or if you need a break.
- Make and use a schedule of chores, important events, and (yes!) even fun stuff to stay organized. Managing tasks and staying organized means less time for overload.
- Age appropriate chores are beneficial for both you and your child. He or she can learn responsibility while helping you in the day to day household tasks.
- Take care of yourself. You matter too. For your children's well-being and your own, you need to rest, get proper sleep, and de-stress.
- Do not treat your child as your equal. Do not confide in your children or expect emotional support from them. They are still children and you are still the adult.
- Remember, you are one person and you are doing the best you can. Keep your expectations - and the expectations of your children - realistic.
- Do not feel guilty for needing and taking a break. As a single parent, you may not get much "alone" or "me" time. Reach out to family members or sitters and take yourself on a date. A happy parent makes a happy child.
- Don't let other people bring you down about your choice to have a child without a partner. Once you've made the choice to be a single parent, stop listening to the naysayers.
- In the same vein, remember that opinions are like assholes (everybody's got one). If you don't wish to hear the guy behind you at the store tell you why your choice was selfish and/or wrong, don't tell him. You're probably not going to change the way other people think.
Single Parenting By Choice Resources:
WIC (Women, Infants and Children): WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Modest Needs: offer grant programs designed PRIMARILY to assist individuals and families who generally are able to pay their monthly bills with no help from anyone, who don't qualify for conventional types of social or charitable assistance, and who are facing a financial crisis because they've encountered a single, unexpected expense they just can't afford on their own.
The Nurturing Network (TNN) provides an individually tailored program of support free of charge to mothers whose own support networks have let them down. The comprehensive support offered by TNN's professional Staff and Volunteer Members includes specialized educational and employment assistance along with the more routine medical, housing and counseling services.
Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities agencies serve people of all faiths. They provide a wide range of services, including services for single moms and children: housing, emergency services, health care, child care, adoption, counseling, financial assistance, food pantries, and other critical services.
Salvation Army: help families and individuals with emergency food, housing, utility assistance and other temporal needs.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs: helps low income households, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs.
Ronald McDonald House Charities: The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children.
Medical Resources for Single Parents:
Insure Kids Now: information for each state about qualifying health care programs.
Find a Health Center: locator for federally-funded health centers that will provide care, even if you have no health insurance.
Medicaid is jointly-funded federal-state partnership administered by each state. Medicaid provides health care coverage to certain low-income people and families. Whether you qualify for Medicaid may depend on your age; whether you're pregnant, disabled, or blind; your income and resources; and whether you're a U.S. citizen. Each state has a unique set of eligibility rules and benefits covered. Call 1-877-KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) or visit the website to see if you qualify.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance: helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need through the program that is right for them. Many will get their medications free or nearly free.
Child Care Resources:
Child Care Aware: free, federally-funded service, at 800-424-2246 to find a local CCR&R.
Head Start: administered by the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Head Start promotes school readiness for children, ages three to five, in low-income families by offering educational, nutritional, health, social and other services.
ChoiceMoms.org: a website dedicated to information about being a single mom by choice.