Dealing with the Stigma of Being a Single Parent


Although few people choose to be a single parent it can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges, including societal stigma. Difficult situations may be even harder and lead to feelings of isolation, shame and self-doubt. Fortunately, you can build a strong, supportive community and celebrate your own strength and resilience with a few approaches. 

Here’s how to deal with the stigma of being a single parent. 

Minimising self-stigmatisation 

With all the outside stigma and perceptions of single parents, you owe yourself grace and positive self-talk. It’s hard enough dealing with the aftermath of divorce and splitting a household. While single parents often see mental health struggles and psychological challenges as a justifiable consequence of the social circumstances of divorce, it’s still important to seek help, engage in therapy or counselling and accept support. You don’t have to go through this process alone. Courses like Restored Lives provide emotional support as well as practical tools and skills to navigate the process.

Make every proactive effort to maintain self-belief and self-confidence by taking charge of your own identity. There is no shame in being a single parent. In the UK there are around 1.8 million single parents with dependent children, making up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children.

Have faith in your abilities. While single parenting may not have been your first choice, you can make the best out of it by speaking kindly to yourself and reinforcing your identity as worthy and capable. 

Set boundaries around your parenting and home

As a single parent, you may sometimes experience more judgment and criticism about your parenting and choices. Protect your mind and well-being by setting boundaries around how people talk about or to you. Even well-meaning friends and family members can make comments that seem harmless to them but affect you deeply. Make it clear that you won’t accept scrutiny and heavy criticism and would prefer support and understanding. 

If people don’t respect that boundary, it shows you where you may need to reduce contact and look for support elsewhere. 

Setting boundaries will help you to preserve your time and emotional energy for more important things. Instead of trying to convince other people of your choices and parenting style, you can focus on enjoying time with your kids, finding healing from your separation or taking up new hobbies. 

Make new friends

If you used to hang out with other couples before the divorce, you may have noticed some distance lately. You may hesitate to open up about the divorce. In this case, it helps to make connections with other parents who have gone through divorce. You can lean on them for support and understanding in a way only they can offer, having been through a similar situation.

Look for ways to make connections, like finding a Facebook group for single parents, taking a gym class or joining a book club. These steps can help you build a support base to help you feel more stable as you settle into your changed world.

Reach out for help

Make the journey less lonely by intentionally reaching out for support. Although vulnerability may be frightening, taking that first step will impact your life positively. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help — studies have shown that 80% of the time people are willing to lend help when asked. Don’t feel ashamed to want assistance with moving, taking care of your kids or shopping for groceries. 

It’s more than asking a friend to pick up the kids from school or your mum to babysit on a Saturday afternoon. Reaching out also means seeing a therapist or counsellor if you’re struggling. 

Take time off for yourself

While a huge part of your life is caring for your kids and providing for them, you are an important individual, too. When you ask for help, make sure it’s not just for necessities. Take time off to do something you love, decompress and get away from everything for a while. 

A big part of changing the shame or guilt that comes with single-parent stigma is having a life outside of being a parent. Tend to the you that loves a good party or concert or the you that wants to spend an afternoon in a bookshop looking for new reads. 

Focus on the glimmers 

Glimmers are seemingly tiny moments in life that activate your parasympathetic system to produce feelings of relaxation. For you, this may look like brushing past the worries and comparisons around you to focus on the beautiful moments with your children. When you go for outings, be intentional about being present in the moment, whether going on that rollercoaster with your teen or enjoying a popsicle after a day out. 

You can also create glimmers by making new traditions and routines for your kids. Maybe you miss Christmas traditions from your relationship and need new ones that align with the situation. You can do things like spending quality time with friends by hosting a “friendsmas” dinner party or picking a new Christmas movie to rewatch every year. 

Dealing with the stigma of being a single parent

When you face challenges and societal stigma, remind yourself that you are capable, resourceful and deserving of respect. You are doing our best to raise wonderful kids and you deserve grace and time to take care of yourself, too.

Author Bio

With a personal focus on recovery and growth, Jack Shaw writes to provide actionable steps and wisdom to those in need of some. Jack is the senior Lifestyle editor of Modded Magazine, where he explores topics of mental health, parenting, hobbies and relationships. You can find his works published in Tiny Buddha, Kentucky Counseling Center, Calmerry and more.

What Next?

Are you or is someone you know going through a breakup? Or perhaps they have been separated or divorced and are still struggling with the fallout? Register for our next online course.

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